Cultural Ecolog1

Cultural Ecolog1 - best suited to given environment not...

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Cultural Ecology An alternative to both ED and possibilism is position that cultures interact with their environmental settings via a process of adaptation This view was first articulated in detail by Kroeber's student Julian Steward, who offered what he called "cultural ecology" as an alternative to "fruitless assumption that culture comes from culture" Steward proposed that cultural change driven by technoeconomic factors "Cultures do, of course, tend to perpetuate themselves. ..But over the millennia cultures in different environments have changed tremendously, and these changes are basically traceable to new adaptations required by changing technology and productive arrangements." [Steward 1955] Cultural ecology (CE) breaks with determinism/possibilism dichotomy in several ways: 1) focuses on environment as presenting adaptive problems opportunities, not just limits or simple determinants 2) argues that adaptive processes shape cultures to achieve patterns that are
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Unformatted text preview: best suited to given environment, not just any possible 3) suggests that effect of environment on culture depends on existing s/c features that any particular human population brings with it, and indeed that cultural change is driven not so much by environmental change as by technoeconomic change ("changing technology and productive arrangements") These innovations in CE have many important implications for understanding relationship between environment and s/c variation For example, in contrast to Kroeber's possibilism, CE portrays spread of agriculture as an adaptive process involving interaction between culture & environment: much evidence (discussed later in course) indicates that agriculture doesn't simply spread wherever it is possible, nor according to some internal cultural logic unrelated to environmental factors, but rather is adopted when it yields either greater return on labor than foraging, or increased food yield per unit land...
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