Re: Ch. 3 - Religion in the Age of Chiefdoms
I'm not sure I'll succeed in addressing the point you're making, but from Wright's statement that in these early societies there is apparently no word for religion, as well as other things he says about how religion (though they don't have the word!) infuses everything, I perceive that he's not trying to separate religion from these other entities. That couldn't be done, he says, because there is what we would call a religious dimension to every aspect of life, from the civil to the economic to the domestic.
I'm reading "shaman, spirits, and belief" as being about the same as "religion," and so I don't seem to be understanding the point. Wright does generally go along with the idea that belief in the supernatural provided a breeding ground for science, medicine, and law.
I see Wright painting the shaman as a man (sadly, always?) of broad power who has a sort of contract with the people to intercede with the spirit world on their behalf. This includes healing individuals, promoting the well-being of the group, and settling disputes. The latter two functions point to the important political role of the shaman. As Wright says, "in some societies the shaman and the political leader have been one and the same " (p. 42). This seems to indicate interwovenness of institutions, so again I'm getting the feeling that Wright is mostly agreeing with what you're objecting to.