Power, Ideology and Inequality

Subject ANTH30005 (2010)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2010.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 3 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2010:

Semester 1, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period not applicable
Assessment Period End not applicable
Last date to Self-Enrol not applicable
Census Date not applicable
Last date to Withdraw without fail not applicable


Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: A 2-hour lecture and 1-hour tutorial per week
Total Time Commitment: an average of 8.5 hours each week.
Prerequisites: 25 points of 2nd year Arts subjects
Corequisites: None.
Recommended Background Knowledge: At least one core 2nd year Anthropology and Social Theory subject. the core subjects are as follows:
Study Period Commencement:
Credit Points:
Semester 1
Semester 2
Non Allowed Subjects: This subject was previously available at 2nd level with the code 121-060. Students who have completed 121-060 are not eligible to enrol in this subject.
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering requests for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Description, Subject Objectives, Generic Skills and Assessment Requirements of this entry.

The University is dedicated to provide support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the Disability Liaison Unit website : http://www.services.unimelb.edu.au/disability/


Dr Alan Thorold


Dr Monica Minnegal


Subject Overview:

This subject offers a comparative perspective on the distribution of inequalities in human societies over time and in contemporary cultures. The aim of the subject is to investigate the varied manifestations of interactions between power, ideologies and the material world. This will involve us in discussions of the nature of "egalitarianism" and "hierarchy" and the way in which concepts developed by social theorists influence our understanding of indigenous ideas, theories and practice. Issues of gender, knowledge production, and access to scarce resources will be considered in relation to political processes and structures through case studies of caste, gerontocracy, Pacific leadership, divine monarchies and colonial cultures. The interplay between domination and resistance will be discussed in the context of colonial and postcolonial states and globalisation. There is a strong area focus on the Asia-Pacific region.


Students who successfully complete this subject will:

  • have a thorough understanding of the way in which anthropologists have approached political organisation in non-western societies.
  • have acquired a knowledge of the ethnographic literature on the dynamics of political organisation in societies categorised in the literature as "egalitarian" and "hierarchical" in Australia, SE Asia and the Pacific.
  • have critically examined anthropological theories about the distribution of power in societies in relation to issues of colonialism and gender.
  • have an understanding of: issues of gender, knowledge production and access to scarce resources as they relate to political processes and structures.
  • understand the interplay between domination and resistance in the context of colonial and post-colonial states and globalisation.
Assessment: A research essay of 2000 words 50% (due at the end of semester), a tutorial assignment of 500 words 10% (due one week after presentation in week chosen by student) and a take-home examination of 1500 words 40% (due mid-semester).
Prescribed Texts:

A subject reader will be available from the University Bookshop at the beginning of semester

Breadth Options:

This subject potentially can be taken as a breadth subject component for the following courses:

You should visit learn more about breadth subjects and read the breadth requirements for your degree, and should discuss your choice with your student adviser, before deciding on your subjects.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

Students who successfully complete this subject will:

  • have practice in conducting research and speaking articulately.
  • have practice in writing clearly in a variety of formats and reading with attention to detail.
  • have experience of systematically evaluating a body of empirical data and identifying its theoretical context.
  • have experience of methods of critical inquiry and argument leading to improved analytical skills.
  • have acquired awareness of issues relating to cross-cultural communication.
Links to further information: http://www.pasi.unimelb.edu.au/anthropology/
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Anthropology
Anthropology && Social Theory
Anthropology and Development
Anthropology and Social Theory
Anthropology and Social Theory
Development Studies
Development Studies
Development Studies
Development Studies Major
Gender Studies
Gender Studies
Gender Studies Major
Sociology Major

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