Ecological Functionalism

Ecological Functionalism - Ecological Functionalism Partly...

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Ecological Functionalism Partly as result of dissatisfaction with problems of CE (as outlined above), 2nd school of ecological anthropology emerged in late 1960s, associated especially with Vayda & Rappaport (see Rappaport 1971 reading, and Rappaport's famous book-length treatise on Tsembaga Maring of New Guinea, Pigs for the Ancestors [1968]) Although it built on CE, this new approach emphasized 1) cybernetics (feedback loops) rather than linear causality 2) study of non-subsistence traits, esp. ritual and population regulation Because of focus on how traits functioned to maintain populations in balance with their resources, and emphasis on homeostatic regulation, this approach often termed "ecological functionalism" (EF) or "neofunctionalism" One major contribution of EF was explicit attention to measurement of ecological variables (such as population density, land area, energy flow, etc.) -- Steward had been much more vague about this However, the theoretical framework of EF has been subject to several major criticisms: 1) Homeostatic equilibrium focus: Are ecological systems really stable & self-regulating? If so, how does change ever arise? 2) System-level adaptation: Ignores conflicting interests within human groups, as well as between human population and other populations in local ecosystem 3) Reliance on functionalist explanation : Begs question of how beneficial consequence of a given trait or practice explains its presence or maintenance First 2 points taken up in next set of lecture notes, but 3rd needs some attention here The "ABCs" of functionalist explanation can be diagrammed as: ------ > C --------------- > B ------ | | | | | | ---------------
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Ecological Functionalism - Ecological Functionalism Partly...

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