LARGE-SCALE COOPERATION AMONG SUNGUSUNGU “VIGILANTES” OF TANZANIA: CONCEPTUALIZING MICRO-ECONOMIC AND INSTITUTIONAL APPROACHES

Socioeconomic Aspects of Human Behavioral Ecology

ISBN: 978-0-76231-082-1, eISBN: 978-1-84950-255-9

ISSN: 0190-1281

Publication date: 30 December 2004

Abstract

Sungusungu non-state justice organizations in Tanzania exemplify large-scale cooperation. Sungusungu third-party enforcers protect property and resolve interpersonal disputes for ethnic Sukuma and individuals from other ethnic groups who have joined the hierarchically structured organizations. We use ethnographic and experimental data to highlight the importance of institutional forces when attempting to understand patterns of large-scale cooperation. We acknowledge the usefulness of considering micro-economic theories (e.g. costly signaling theory) to understand Sungusungu, but show that social institutions and a human predisposition to act as a “strong reciprocator” are important mechanisms to explain both the origins and maintenance of Sungusungu cooperation.

Citation

Paciotti, B. and Hadley, C. (2004), "LARGE-SCALE COOPERATION AMONG SUNGUSUNGU “VIGILANTES” OF TANZANIA: CONCEPTUALIZING MICRO-ECONOMIC AND INSTITUTIONAL APPROACHES", Alvard, M. (Ed.) Socioeconomic Aspects of Human Behavioral Ecology (Research in Economic Anthropology, Vol. 23), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 119-147. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0190-1281(04)23005-0

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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