I began my work as an economic anthropologist after nearly twenty years as an economist, holding a Ph.D. in agricultural economics from UC Berkeley. I was lured into anthropology by an interest in intra-household resource allocation, a subject on which anthropology presents an abundance of cultural variation. I then became interested in bridewealth and dowry and consequently with the nature of lineage organization as resource-holding social entities, leading finally to a more general interest in the foundational resources that generate the power of social formations. The known forms of foundational resources are: human and animal fertility, land and capital. But it is the configuration of resource-rights among persons and the management of those resources that distinguishes social formations and defines their relative power.
In this context, power can be defined as the ability of any individual, group or society to grow in number, value or size in the face of competing entities and at the expense of others. We can see that the effort to gain social power is the fundamental to social evolution. In most cases this effort is lead by an elite whose management assures their special rights to scarce resources. This, I shall demonstrate, is the real foundation of social evolution.