Nodes and edges: A network approach to hierarchisation and state formation in Japan

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This paper argues that the centralised hierarchy that emerged at the beginning of the Kofun (mounded tomb) period in Japan can be explained by the locations that the polities to be hierarchised occupy and the differences in the topological potentials that these locations generate. Previous attempts of explaining the phenomenon by attributing its cause to factors such as differential access to resources and control over their distribution have been proven not to fit with the available body of evidence. The application of social network analysis-derived concepts and methods reveals that the topological locations that polities occupied generated different centralities, i.e. different degrees of connectedness to other polities and of mediating interactions between polities, which led to the hierarchisation and centralisation of their relationships. The paper concludes that the topological structure of a social network itself can be a significant cause of its own hierarchisation, and it compares the finding with the manner in which the concepts of agency and power are applied to the explanation of social hierarchisation and centralisation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-26
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Anthropological Archaeology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Archaeology
  • History
  • Archaeology


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