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Case Studies Essay, Research Paper

Leadership in the Vice Lords Vice Lords? define a Leader as a person who has followers. To

a person outside the world of the fighting clubs, this may seem

overly simplistic, but what defines one as a Leader or Follower

is self-evident only to the Vice Lords. There are several reasons

for this. Leadership is highly contextualised- that is, there are

few contexts when an individual"s identity as Leader

emerges. Further, the same person may assume identities of both

Leader and Follower at different times. A leader is one who exercises power. The exercise of

leadership is thus the exercise of power. Among Vice Lords a

person is recognised as a Leader when he has the ability to get

others to do his will. Among Vice Lords, however, power is not

based on force. A Leader exercises power through what we call

influence. Vice Lords follow others because they like them, or

respect them, or because they think they will gain something by

doing so, but not because they fear them. The positions of Leader

and Follower are interchangeable; a leader in one context can be

a follower in another. Some Vice Lords who are considered Leaders

sometimes assume Follower identities in certain situations. There

is a formal hierarchy of leadership positions that partially

accounts for this. There are two kinds of contexts in which power is exerted.?

The first kind includes situations that demand physical action.

Some obvious examples are: gangbanging, wolf packing, and

hustling. The second kind of context in which leadership

identities are relevant are those defined by public decision

making. Some decisions which affect the club are made during

discussions between Vice Lords while hanging on a corner or in an

alley. Usually, however, public decision-making takes place

during club meetings. The strength of an individuals" power is subject to

constant fluctuation. Power is based on the number of

one"s followers, but a Leader"s following is

constantly changing, and the exact extent of a person"s

power is not usually known.

? Trobrianders – In the minds of the Trobrainders, the myth stories recount

the actions of real people who made decisions that continue to

affect that affairs of each succesive generation. Among all the

ancestors who established matrilineages, only some of them came

to Kiriwina with extensive food taboos and certain body shell

decorations; these, from the beginning, ranked them as chiefly

lineages, and separated them from the commoner matrilineages,

whose ancestors came without these elaborate sumptuary rules

(that is, rules about foods and decorations that are permitted or

prohibited). – In the case of chiefly lineages, however, those who came

with them as commoners worked for them by raising their pigs and

growing betel nuts and coconut palm trees. From time to time, the

chiefs rewarded them with stone axe-blades or shell valuables.

Today, these obligations continue, so whenever the Omarakana

Tabalu chiefs need pork, coconuts, or betel nuts for a feast,

they send a message to the men whose ancestors came with their

ancestors from the same place of origin. – What the origin stories make clear is that rivalry among

chiefs always was a fact of life and that weaknesses are tested

as one chief strives for an advantage over another. Chiefly

decorations validate one"s authority to claim the ranking

brought on by one"s ancestors; therefore, it is no

surprise that competition between chiefly matrilineages often is

expressed over these "kingly" regalia. – Not only does a chief"s presence carry an aura of

defence and fear, but even the hamlet of a chief represents a

place of danger to those who are members of commoner

lineages. – A chief must work not only to solidify his arena of power

and status but also to protect and prevent other chiefs from

destroying or diminishing his ancestral heritage. – Historically, individual chiefs created differences in the

ongoing political status of a lineage. A person"s right to

sit higher than the rest comes from his birth and the authority

brought by his ancestors. How many people will actually sit under

him comes from the authority he himself is able to summon. By

authority, Weiner means the right to claim legitimacy that is

acknowledged by the members of the society. – Although a hamlet leader controls the matrilineage"s

property, he must also try to retain some direction over the

affairs of those members who live elsewhere. It is a

leader"s hard work and managerial skills rather than the

actual make-up of the hamlet that ultimately gives rise to his

power. – The power of a Trobriand chief is localised, only spreading

out into other hamlets and villages through individual

matrilineages, which either have a woman member married to the

chief or whose ancestors came from the same place of origin. – In villages without chiefs, a primary goal for each hamlet

leader is to establish and maintain alliances between hamlets

within the village, so that a hamlet leader can depend on some of

the other village men for support. A chief, however, tries to

expand his links further by creating support with hamlet leaders

in many different villages. – Polygyny enables a chief to enhance his economic situation,

as a chief with many wives receives annual harvest yams from the

matrilineal kin of each one. – Chiefs are not first among equals, there is a distinct

permanent division between lineages. – There is another dimension to the power of a chief. The

regalia of rank is underwritten by the exercise of authority that

controls the seemingly uncontrollable. Important chiefs must

demonstrate that they know formidable kinds of magic spells that

successfully give them control over villager"s lives and

the growing cycle of yams. – The spells that are most talked about because they are so

dangerous are those for sorcery and those that control the

weather. These traditional spells are the property of certain

matrilineages and known only by a few men. Not all chiefs own

sorcery spells, but since they usually have more wealth than

ordinary men, they can pay those who know the magic to accomplish

their wishes. – The power that chiefs have through their knowledge of

sorcery breeds fear in others. Opposition to a chief or

participation in such incidents as keeping a long yam rather than

giving it to the chief or worse, being suspected of adultery with

a chief"s wife, stay in the minds of those involved,

making them fear the future. Sudden sickness or death points a

finger at the mistakes made or rules broken, making clear the

price to be paid for autonomous behaviour. – Although chiefs walk with the authority that control over

sorcery gives them, they themselves are not immune to its

effects.

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