The Heterogeneity of Social Network and Institutional Covariance in the American Southeast

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Social, political, and economic institutions covary with one another in heterogenous ways across space and time. Social Network Analysis (SNA) offers a set of analytical tools and conceptual frameworks that have allowed for formal comparisons of interactions, affiliations, and relationships in reconstructing historical trajectories of institutional change. Although archaeologists have made full use of a range of metrics that describe the structural variation of social networks, formal approaches to analyzing the covariance of networks, and the institutions that structured networks in the past, remain undertheorized. In most cases, descriptive metrics are compared between networks built from different datasets or networks separated in time. Using quadratic assignment procedure (QAP) correlations to compare matrices of archaeological data, I draw on a ceramic dataset of approximately 350,000 sherds from the Southern Appalachian region to investigate how decisions related to manufacture choice and to stylistic design covaried with one another between roughly AD 800 and 1650. I explore how material attributes may or may not vary independently of one another and what that means for our analyses of the institutions they reflect. The results contribute to broader comparative analyses of institutional change and perennial discussions of social evolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)513-530
Number of pages18
JournalAmerican Antiquity
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 7 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • History
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Archaeology
  • Museology

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