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JaredDiamond (in GunsGermsAndSteel) suggests 4 scales of social organization : bands, tribes, chiefdoms and states. (ReadWith) SocialComplexity

Tables adapted from the book :

Scale and settlement

Name Number Settlement Pattern Hierarachy of settlement Public Architecture
Band dozens nomadic no no
Tribe hundreds fixed, 1 village no no
Chiefdom thousands fixed, 1 + villages no -> paramount village no -> yes ||
State over 50,000 many villages and cities capital yes

Scale and Economy

Name Food production? Division of labour Exchange [1]
Band no no reciprocal
Tribe no -> yes no reciprocal
Chiefdom yes -> intensive no -> yes redistributive ("tribute")
State intensive yes redistributive ("taxes")

Scale and Political Power (See also PoliticalStuff)

Name Decision-making Monopoly of force and info Conflict Resolution Bureaucracy Control of land
Band "egalitarian" (public open discussion) no informal none band
Tribe "egalitarian" (public open discussion) with influencial but informal "big men" no informal none clan
Chiefdom centralized / hereditary role yes centralized none -> 1 or 2 levels (usually fereditary) chief
State centralized / hereditary -> democracy yes laws / judges many levels various

Scale and Social Organization

Name Basis of Relationships Stratified Maybe Slavery Luxury goods for elite
Band Kin (Band related) no no no
Tribe Kin-based clans no no no
Chiefdom caste / class and residence yes, by kin no -> yes no -> yes
State class and residence yes, not necessarily by kin yes yes

Scale and Culture

Name Religion justifies kleptocracy Indigenous literacy
Band no no
Tribe no no
Chiefdom yes no
State yes often

Compare ScalesOfOrganization, RossMayfieldsThreeScalesOfNetwork

See also KinRecognition, OnGranularity