Inequality and social groups

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

5 Scopus citations


In 1993, Robert Sharer produced a concise review of Classic period Maya social organization. Though Sharer was careful to note that there was no single pattern-Maya people organized themselves in a variety of ways across time and space-his account represented the state-of-the-art at that time. A quarter century has passed and hundreds of research projects have come and gone. What have we learned over the last 25 years? This chapter surveys what is new in our knowledge of social organization, focusing specifically on inequality and intermediate scale social groups, defined as larger than a household but smaller than Maya centers. Such social groups include lineages, house societies, neighborhoods, and communities of practice. Inequality comes in many forms (wealth, status, power, etc.) and can be measured in many ways using a variety of data (dirt archaeology, epigraphy, ethnohistory, iconography, etc.). In addition to summarizing recent advances, this chapter argues that we should jettison a common way of thinking about inequality: the dichotomy between elites and commoners.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Maya World
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781351029575
StatePublished - Jun 17 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 selection and editorial matter, Scott R. Hutson and Traci Ardren.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences
  • General Arts and Humanities


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