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Traditional Micronesian SocietiesAdaptation, Integration, and Political Organization in the Central Pacific$
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Glenn Petersen

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780824832483

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824832483.001.0001

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Politics and Leadership

Politics and Leadership

(p.158) Chapter 7 Politics and Leadership
Traditional Micronesian Societies

Glenn Petersen

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter deals with the broad sweep of political life in Micronesia, focusing on the overlapping spheres of political dynamics and leadership. Micronesian political life is characterized by opposing pulls between quite inclusive participation in a community’s decision making, on the one hand, and the hierarchical organization of authority and responsibility, on the other. Hierarchy and rank are fundamental to Micronesian political life but exist within a participatory context, recognizing that every individual and group possesses legitimate interests in the community’s continued success. Competition for social status is a fundamental aspect of Micronesian politics precisely because there is a significant degree of social mobility among individuals and groups. Politics and leadership in Micronesian societies can be understood only as growing out of this continual interplay between hierarchy and equality. Although hierarchy and equality are often treated as if they are opposite poles, in Micronesia they are complementary aspects of an essentially common political culture.

Keywords:   Micronesia, Micronesian political life, political dynamics, leadership, community decision making, hierarchy, equality, political culture

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