In Donald Brown's list of Human Universals, there is this entry:

corporate (perpetual) statuses

In his book that has the same title, he wrote:

The UP have government, in the sense that they have public affairs and these affairs are regulated, and in the sense that decisions binding on a collectivity are made. Some of the regulation takes place in a framework of corporate statuses (statuses with orderly procedures for perpetuating membership in them).

The UP have leaders, though they may be ephemeral or situational. The UP admire, or profess to admire, generosity, and this is particularly desired in a leader. No leader of the UP ever has complete power lodged in himself alone. UP leaders go beyond the limits of UP reason and morality. Since the UP never have complete democracy, and never have complete autocracy, they always have a de facto oligarchy.

The UP have law, at least in the sense of rules of membership in perpetual social units and in the sense of rights and obligations attached to persons or other statuses.

The UP = The Universal People.

I don't quite understand the meaning of each word of this phrase corporate (perpetual) statuses, because each of means different things. The general meaning of the above paragraphs is understood, well, to some extent, but if I was asked: why did he chose corporate or status here in this context, I would not know the answer.

Could you please explain this term? or at least write another word or phrase that conveys the same meaning.

  • The words in the brackets "(statuses with orderly procedures for perpetuating membership in them)" look like an explanation for the term "corporate statuses".
    – Lawrence
    Commented May 31, 2018 at 16:15
  • Could you please explain "statuses" and "perpetuating" in that sentence? English in not my native language, I know what "status" and "perpetuate" mean, but I find it very confusing in this sentence!
    – Ohan H.
    Commented May 31, 2018 at 16:18
  • Here are links to the dictionary definitions: status (definition 1) and perpetuating.
    – Lawrence
    Commented May 31, 2018 at 16:21
  • So, the sentence in brackets means: "(Social ranks with well ordered procedures, for sustaining(??) membership in them)". Is this right? Now, what does corporate mean here?
    – Ohan H.
    Commented May 31, 2018 at 16:53
  • More or less. There are social ‘ranks’, and there are ways to keep the system going. You might have a junior member of staff - they need to do something (take an exam, do set tasks, win influence, whatever) to become a senior member of staff. Note that all this is just based on a cursory reading of the material presented.
    – Lawrence
    Commented May 31, 2018 at 16:59

1 Answer 1


I'm thinking the less-commonly utilized definition of "corporate" (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/corporate), as to mean something unoriginal, could be the author's intent; although the overtone of this writing could easily convey the attribute of association as well. EBT

  • Do you mean that the phrase means: unoriginal statuses? What does this mean? and what does perpetual mean too? and what does that have to do with the Human Universals! It's Very confusing!
    – Ohan H.
    Commented May 31, 2018 at 16:59
  • Yes. Basically 'lacks originality and is on-going "perpetual"'. EBT Commented Jun 1, 2018 at 19:37

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