Ecology and Mating Systems

Ecology and Mating Systems - Ecology and Mating Systems...

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Ecology and Mating Systems Ethnographic evidence reveals an enormous variety of human mating & family systems cross-culturally, which raises an obvious question: Why have people developed so many different ways to regulate sexuality & raise kids? One prominent hypothesis is that different systems are adapted to different ecological or economic conditions Another is that certain cultural values or religious rules that strongly shape mating and family systems are not themselves adaptive, but spread for other reasons If one or both views are correct, we should be able to match type of family system to 1) specific ecological/economic situations, and/or 2) cultural traditions We can approach this issue by looking at each of 3 main forms of marriage Monogamy is the dominant form in 2 primary situations: 1. Where resources are scarce, so that both parents needed to successfully raise offspring (e.g., traditional pattern among hunter-gatherers in resource-poor environments such as arctic, deserts) 2. Where laws or religious proscriptions prohibit polygyny (e.g., EuroAmerican society); no clear ecological reason why European prohibition of polygamy should have arisen and spread (though even here, mistresses, serial marriage, etc. lead to unofficial polygyny for many high-status or economically successful men) Polygyny is culturally accepted (or even preferred) in great majority of human societies ( Ethnographic Atlas lists it for 716 of the 863 societies therein = 83%), but given roughly equal sex ratios found in most human societies, it is limited to a minority of males in any
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This note was uploaded on 11/22/2011 for the course ANT ANT2000 taught by Professor Monicaoyola during the Fall '10 term at Broward College.

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Ecology and Mating Systems - Ecology and Mating Systems...

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