|Society in the World of Avatar|
In more recent years, the United Republic of Nations has ushered in new ways for citizens to grow in status and wealth, as a person's accomplishments could also determine their rank in society besides the conditions of their birth.
Air Nomads Edit
Council of Elders Edit
The authority of the Council of Elders is not well known. However, it has been shown that they are not considered royalty. They were trusted with making decisions for the society and were likely well-respected by their people. Like the Fire Sages of the Fire Nation, the councils had one Head Monk or Head Nun, who seemed to have more authority than the other monks and nuns.
Average nomads Edit
It seems that all citizens were considered equal in rights and in social rank. This is natural because all Air Nomad citizens were benders and there were thus few differences between the abilities of various nomads.
Water Tribes Edit
Water Tribe society differs between the Southern Water Tribe and Northern Water Tribe. While the smaller Southern Tribe seems to consider almost all members as equals, the Northern Tribe appears to have more social divisions.
Tribal Chief Edit
Northern Water Tribe Edit
The Northern Water Tribe differs from the Southern Water Tribe through its more complex social order, pointed out by Hahn while he was berating Sokka's surprise and displeasure on the subject of Yue's forced marriage.
In the Northern Water Tribe, the chief is considered royalty to some extent, as his daughter carries the title of Tribal Princess. The chief makes decisions for the tribe and can probably create and abolish certain laws and customs. Arranged marriage, however, does not seem to be one of them, meaning that the power of the chief does have limits. For example, Chief Arnook stated that he could not force Master Pakku to take back pupils if he did not want them, even if that pupil is the Avatar.
Southern Water Tribe Edit
In the Southern Water Tribe, chiefdom seems to be less complicated. The chief has the ability to lead his people and make decisions. Unlike Arnook's daughter, Chief Hakoda's children did not hold the titles of "Prince" or "Princess", as Hakoda was not royalty. The chief can also personally lead his warriors in battle. At Chameleon Bay inside of a large tent, Hakoda was seen with a group of about seven individuals planning the next battle.
Chief's advisers Edit
In the Northern Water Tribe, the chief has advisers to help him make decisions. They seem to be in position of high authority, as they sit beside the chief during meetings and other events. Even though the chief has more power than these advisers, they are still important members of the Northern Water Tribe society. Known advisers are the tribe's waterbending master, Pakku, and the chief's daughter, Princess Yue.
Average citizens Edit
Northern Water Tribe Edit
In the Northern Water Tribe, all men seem to be equal, though women are forbidden by law from studying waterbending, and are restricted to learning the healing capabilities of the bending art instead.
Southern Water Tribe Edit
In the Southern Water Tribe, all of the tribe's members, even the chief's children, are considered average citizens and have also been referred to as peasants. The tribe does not appear to have a well-developed society. There are no clear social differences for warriors. Before the Southern Water Tribe raids, a decent population of the citizens were waterbenders, but the raids later left the tribe with only one bender - Katara.
Earth Kingdom Edit
Because a vast, diverse people populate the Earth Kingdom, its social hierarchy is correspondingly more stratified.
Earth King Edit
The Earth King is the King of Ba Sing Se and ruler of the Earth Kingdom. He occupies the highest social position in the entire kingdom, and his palace and seat of government are located in the Upper Ring of the capital.
Previous Earth Kings exercised tremendous authority over the whole kingdom. Recently, a conspiracy led to the decline of this position from a true leader to a mere figurehead, as was the circumstance of the 52nd Earth King, Kuei; the Earth King was treated as if he were a god to the citizens. When Kuei returned to power at the end of the Hundred Year War, with the conspiracy broken, he took the Earth King's original role in society.
Regional leaders Edit
As a confederate monarchy, the Earth Kingdom has a number of leaders who exercise power over individual parts of the Earth Kingdom. While the Earth King has final authority over such leaders, these leaders do have considerable power over their lands.
- King of Omashu - Omashu, a largely autonomous city in the Earth Kingdom, also has its own regional king. He, however, is not powerful enough to fall in the Earth King's social class, as only the sole leader of the Earth Kingdom executes the title, and he remains subordinate to Ba Sing Se.
Council of Five Edit
The Council of Five is a group of the five most powerful generals of the Earth Kingdom. They are held in high respect. The Council of Five have very high authority and an extremely high social status, as they control the entire military.
Grand Secretariat of Ba Sing Se Edit
The Grand Secretariat is a position held by the Leader of the Government of Ba Sing Se. It is his job to maintain law and order in the bustling city. This position is considered a high social status, due to it serving as one of the prime advisers for the Earth King.
The nobles lead lives of wealth and luxury. Many of them live within the walls of Ba Sing Se, in the Upper Ring. There are presumably other nobles scattered throughout the Earth Kingdom, though the only known example is the Beifong family in Gaoling, one of the wealthiest families of the Earth Kingdom, who have respect and many privileges throughout the kingdom.
Middle class citizens Edit
Not much has been revealed about the middle class populace of the Earth Kingdom. It has been shown, however, that they do retain many rights and opportunities, as Long Feng was born as a middle class citizen and he eventually was able to secure a position as the Grand Secretariat of Ba Sing Se. Middle class citizens are also able to afford an education, as Ba Sing Se University is located in Ba Sing Se's Middle Ring.
Lower class citizens Edit
The majority of the Earth Kingdom consists of this social class. Farmers, craftsmen, unskilled soldiers, artisans, refugees and other people who "work with their hands" fall under this category. Ba Sing Se has a ring to contain all these people, the Lower Ring, which is the most densely populated and crime filled ring.
Unskilled laborers have no special tie to royalty, as they are considered mere peasants. The Hundred Year War caused many more people of the Earth Kingdom to become poverty-stricken refugees.
Fire Nation Edit
The Fire Nation society is very structured, and most of its populace was kept under strict rule, especially during the Hundred Year War.
Royal family Edit
Fire Lord Edit
The Fire Lord wields absolute power and is the supreme ruler of the entire Fire Nation. Anything he or she proclaims becomes law. The Fire Lord has the highest social rank in the Fire Nation.
"Fire Lord" is a title and is not gender bound, as Ozai appointed Azula as the new Fire Lord after his coronation as Phoenix King, and Zuko eventually relinquished the throne to his daughter, making her Fire Lord. However, female Fire Lords are uncommon, and Zuko's daughter is the first one to ascend the throne in generations.
The Fire Lord's power increased during the Hundred Year War, not only globally as a result of the Fire Nation's subjugation of the other nations, but also within the nation itself. Fire Lord Sozin used his position to take over more land and force the Fire Sages to be loyal only to the Royal Family, and the destruction of the dragons, who were the original practitioners of firebending, also served to increase this power. Furthermore, Sozin and other wartime Fire Lords tightened their hold over the Fire Nation citizenry by rewriting history and reducing freedom.
Children of the Fire Lord Edit
The children of the Fire Lord retain the second highest social statuses in the Fire Nation. The oldest child of the Fire Lord is considered the next heir to the throne. If, however, the original heir is banished or killed, then the next oldest child will earn the title of heir. Citizens of all ranks are expected to show them deference, their will being second only to the Fire Lord.
Fire Sages, nobles, and high ranking military officials Edit
Nobles are ranked very highly in Fire Nation society, and have the possibility to befriend, marry and work with the Royal Family. All nobles seem to reside in the Fire Nation Capital, with the exception of appointed regional leaders. Nobles include Ta Min, Princess Ursa, Mai and her family, and Ty Lee.
Fire Sages Edit
The Fire Sages are the religious authority of the Fire Nation and are ranked high in social position. The Fire Sages once led the Fire Nation, however, when the title of Fire Lord was created, they slowly lost their power. When Sozin became Fire Lord, he forced the Fire Sages to pledge loyalty to him.
The Fire Sages kept a high status even after they were forced to obey the Fire Lord, as they were still allowed in the capital city and they were present at Ozai, Azula, and Zuko's coronations to crown the Fire Lord showing that they are the ones to crown the nation's rulers. This job is performed by the High Sage.
High ranking military officials Edit
During the Fire Nation's one hundred year-long war for world domination, military officials became of great importance. High military officials are very respected in the Fire Nation society. High Admirals and High Generals fall under this position. They seem to act as the Fire Lord's advisers, and are usually present during war meetings.
Middle class citizens Edit
Not much is known about the middle class citizens, except that they are ranked as normal civilians. They have enough wealth to give their children an adequate education.
Lower class citizens Edit
This social class is the lowest of all the classes. The people in it have little wealth and no power. An example would be the villagers of Jang Hui. Like in the Earth Kingdom, peasants of the Fire Nation have no special ties to royalty. They are of little concern to the Fire Lord and are subject to oppression by military officers.
United Republic of Nations Edit
The United Republic was founded by Avatar Aang and Fire Lord Zuko upon the notion that benders and non-benders would be able to "live and thrive together in peace and harmony," and people from all over the world immigrated there from their own native lands to attain this equality themselves. Judging by the country's governmental bench that currently holds no non-benders and heightened poverty rates in the ghettos of non-benders, coupled with bending-based crime triads that exercise their abilities to extort the non-bending population, this utopian goal is far from established in the main city. However, the goal seems more established in an underground community of vagabonds, where benders and non-benders live in harmony.
United Republic Council Edit
The United Republic Council is the governmental body of the United Republic of Nations composed of representatives from the Air Nation, Northern and Southern Water Tribes, Earth Kingdom, and Fire Nation. The members of the Council convene for regular meetings in Republic City's City Hall to discuss political affairs like passing new laws. They are also tasked with weighing the good against the bad in certain situations and deciding whether or not to act on threats against the people's well-being. This system is more focused on the government taking its citizens' needs into consideration as opposed to the autocracy of the Fire Nation or the Earth Kingdom's monarchy.
Upper class Edit
Nobles are not a class in the United Republic because of the nation's break from the traditional governing systems of the world. This makes wealth in the United Republic something that must be striven for, not something that one is simply born into. Sports like pro-bending have given way to high-paying jobs for proprietors of such businesses. The automobile industry has also proven to be an undertaking of great profit. With Republic City being the capital of both the nation and its commerce, it can be logically assumed that most citizens with this status reside there. Some such examples are Hiroshi Sato and Butakha.
Bender bias Edit
- See also: Anti-bending Revolution
The middle and lower classes of the United Republic can be described by the unintentional bias that the nation holds toward its bending population in terms of power and status.
The United Republic Council in its current incarnation is made up solely of benders. While the inclusion of representatives from each continent should in theory have created an equal balance in power, this power is distributed amongst benders only. This was not always the case in the council, but the truth of bias amongst government officials was made an undeniable fact when four of the five councilmen incited a curfew for non-benders because the council suspected they were all Equalists who would attempt to overthrow the council, a decision brought on by prejudice and paranoia. Most lower-class citizens appear to be non-benders, as evidenced by the whole of the Dragon Flats borough, a place resembling a ghetto for non-benders, being put under the curfew, suggesting everyone there was a non-bender.
Oftentimes bending triads take advantage of theirs and the non-benders' positions in society for their own personal gain, as seen when the Triple Threats attempted to extort an innocent non-bending citizen.
All of these factors are part of the concurrent non-bending oppression that is taking place in the United Republic. The bending population has risen to political and underground power while the non-benders have been left to more trivial pursuits.
The Avatar is in a social class by him or herself, being unique in the world and wielding vast bending powers. Before the Hundred Year War, the Avatar was considered to be without equal in the entire world, a sacred being representing the principle of balance and the planet itself. All of the Fire Sages, the assembled Fire Nation nobility, and the Crown Prince Sozin all bowed to Roku when he was revealed as the new Avatar, at the time sharing power with the Fire Lord in the Fire Nation, giving their allegiance to the Avatar. It has been shown that kings as well as upstarts like Chin the Great stood up to past Avatars, but without exception they were quickly put back in their place. Even when Sozin was already the Fire Lord, Roku had enough authority to openly defy and forbid him from pursuing his dreams of empire, as if the Fire Lord himself were a subordinate.
The Avatar is required to do what it takes to bring balance to the world and thus are not able to claim allegiance or conform to his or her native country. Examples of this include: Avatar Yangchen who was willing to resort to lethal matters, although it is against Air Nomad beliefs, Avatar Kyoshi who defied the Earth King, and Avatar Roku, who, despite being born in the Fire Nation, threatened Fire Lord Sozin's life if he were to continue Fire Nation colonization of the Earth Kingdom.
Also, the Avatar is revered and loved by the general populace, with shrines and temples across the four nations dedicated to him or her and spiritual groups tending to places connected to him. The people of the four nations viewed the Avatar as the supreme arbiter of any injustice done upon them or the world in general, vested with the power and authority of the great spirit of the World.
Avatars have no need of worldly possessions, as shown when the Fire Sages informed Roku of this. However they are not prohibited from having a family and owning property, as Roku settled with Ta Min on a remote island, and Kyoshi created what became known as Kyoshi Island when ousting Chin the Great. Aang had even stated he saw no reason he could not be in the position of a jewelry maker and the Avatar at the same time. However, their main duty is to the world, something not to be distracted by accumulating wealth and belongings.