"Phase transition from egalitarian to hierarchical societies driven by competition between cognitive and social constraints".
arXiv preprint arXiv:1608.03637
Empirical evidence suggests that social structure may have changed from hierarchical to egalitarian and back along the evolutionary line of humans. We model a society subject to competing cognitive and social navigation constraints. The theory predicts that the degree of hierarchy decreases with encephalization and increases with group size. Hence hominin groups may have been driven from a phase with hierarchical order to a phase with egalitarian structures by the encephalization during the last two million years, and back to hierarchical due to fast demographical changes during the Neolithic. The dynamics in the perceived social network shows evidence in the egalitarian phase of the observed phenomenon of Reverse Dominance. The theory also predicts for modern hunter-gatherers in mild climates a trend towards an intermediate hierarchy degree and a phase transition for harder ecological conditions. In harsher climates societies would tend to bemore egalitarian if organized in small groups but more hierarchical if in large groups. The theoretical model permits organizing the available data in the cross-cultural record (Ethnographic Atlas, N=248 cultures) where the symmetry breaking transition can be clearly seen.