Despite contrasts and variety economic patterns and cultural patterning? social structure almost always tribal. ? Immediate family, accessible family and much larger family. ? Tribes seen via line of descent from eponymous ancestor. ? Fellow tribesmen, same family, defend each other.

Many large solidarity groups of considerable stability and seem to function as cohesive and virtually autonomous social units Tribe and increasing sub-divisions within focus for primary loyalty? defence against insult or injury. Sub-divisions between lineages could lead to bitterness and rivalry between lineages etc. ? Tribe brings social stability, but subdivisions mean not always social support. Lineages and tribes constantly evolving? hard to trace formation, lineages graduated to tribe status, but periods of stability. Bakr tribal group 600 in northeastern Arabia – but sharp internal differences in smaller groups within effective foci of loyalty.

Genealogy? primary representation of political realities within a tribe? upper echelons? reconstructed at upper levels to reflect power r ships. Clear political purpose in genealogies.