Work Effort - Work Effort The old stereotype that foragers...

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Work Effort The old stereotype that foragers work incessantly to meet bare minimum of food needs, and that work effort is thus simply a function of getting enough to survive, has been laid to rest by empirical evidence from several populations This evidence shows that foragers often work shorter hours than the average ethnographer, averaging some 6.5 hours per day (see Hames 1992 time allocation graph ) However, there are some problems with concluding that foragers live a life of relative leisure 1. How do we define work? In time allocation studies, work is typically defined as activities that secure livelihood conducted outside of home This overlooks activities that are necessary for subsistence which take place within the One study showed that including such tasks can as much as double total "work" time Focus on direct subsistence tasks (especially food production) also leaves out other activities essential to survival and reproduction, such as childcare or maintenance of social relations In sum, there is no clear agreement on how to define "work" in a general, non- ethnocentric manner; the best we can do is to specify what activities are included in our 2. Is there a clear trend? Can we conclude from the available time allocation data that foragers generally work less than people in other modes of subsistence? There are two reasons to doubt this (if by "other" modes, we mean "all other") First, available cross-cultural evidence indicates that swidden horticulturalists (from Amazonia and from New Guinea highlands) work less than H-Gs (see Hames graph again) On other hand, intensive agriculturalists (pre-industrial or industrial) work much more than either H-Gs or swiddeners, while average work time declines somewhat in advanced industrial society (ditto) Second, there is problem of sample size: quantitative data on time allocation only available for a handful of forager societies (n=4 in Hames' compilation, though this has doubled in the last dozen years), and no data at all for sedentary foragers with complex socioeconomic systems (e.g., Native California, Northwest Coast, prehistoric Woodland culture in E. No. America, upper Paleolithic Europe, northern Japan) For the 4 H-G groups in Hames' sample, daily mean work effort ranges from 5 to 9 hrs,
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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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Work Effort - Work Effort The old stereotype that foragers...

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