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HE ORIGINAL AFFLUENT SOCIETY? A few studies in 1960s (Richard Lee w/ !Kung San, various researchers w/ Australian Aborigines) gathered detailed quantitative data on contemporary H-Gs, leading to rather sudden abandonment of old view and adoption of new orthodoxy in H-G studies, a trend that crystallized with the Man the Hunter The new view established by these studies includes several tenets: 1) H-G have as much or more leisure time than agriculturalists 2) Food supply is abundant, and population regulated below Cc 3) Composition of residential groups (camps, local bands) is flexible, and land ownership is absent (no "territoriality") 4) Bulk of food supply comes from gathering plants (primarily women's work) The anthropologist Marshall Sahlins went so far as to label H-Gs the "original affluent
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Unformatted text preview: society", with a "zen economy" where scarcity has been banished not by boosting production, but by reducing economic wants to a minimum (Sahlins 1972, as discussed in Kelly 1995 and Winterhalder 1993 readings) This new view of H-G has become the orthodoxy in anthropology, effectively inverting the previous "nasty, short & brutish" stereotype However, the empirical basis for the new orthodoxy was rather slim (a handful of studies with actual data, and even those based on just a few weeks of data collection), and there are some weaknesses in its theoretical basis as well, raising doubts that it provides an accurate portrayal of H-Gs at all times and places Let's consider the four tenets of this new orthodoxy (listed above), and examine the logic & evidence behind each of them...
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