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VOL, T IS about three-quarters of a century since the early anthropologists and I sociologists attempted to formulate cultural regularities in generalized or. Attention is centered on cultural differences, particulars, and peculiarities, and culture is often treated as if it developed quixotically, without determinable causes, or else appeared full-.
It is unfortunate that the two approaches are so widely thought of as theoretically irreconcilable rather than as expressions of different purposes or interests. The 19th century writers had the perfectly legitimate purpose of making scientific generalizations from what they considered recurrent cultural patterns, sequences, and processes in different cultures, while the more recent school has the equally legitimate purpose of examining the distinctive or non- recurrent features of cultures.
As all cultures, though unique in many respects,. Morgan, If the 19th century formulations were wrong, it was not because their purpose was inadmissible or their objective impossible, but because the data were inadequate and in- sufficient, the methodology weak, and the application of the schemes t o o broad. In spite ot a half century of skepticism concerning the possibility of formu- lating cultural regularities, the conviction is widely held that the discovery o f cultural laws is an ultimate goal of anthropology, to be attained when fact- collecting and detailed analyses of particular cultures and sequences are suffi- ciently advanced.
White3 has already offered some general formulations con- cerning the relationship of energy to cultural development, and he has argued for the importance of formulations of all kinds. The present need is not to achieve a world scheme of culture development or a set of universally valid laws, though no doubt many such laws can even now be postulated, but to establish a genuine interest in the scientific objective and a clear conceptualization of what is meant by regularities.
It does not matter whether the formulations are sequential diachronic or functional synchronic , on a large scale or a small scale. It is more important that com- parative cultural studies should interest themselves in recurrent phenomena as well as in unique phenomena, and that anthropology explicitly recognize that a legitimate and ultimate objective is to see through the differences of.
In fact, the analyses of cultural particu-. White, Lesser, Such scientific endeavor need not be ridden by the requirement that cultural laws or regularities be formulated in terms comparable to those of the biological or physical sciences, that they be absolutes and universals, or that they provide ultimate explanations. Any formulations of cultural data are valid provided the procedure is empirical, hypotheses arising from interpretations of fact and being revised as new facts become available.
Three requirements for formulating cultural regularities may be stated in a rough and preliminary way as follows:. Types represent abstractions, which disregard peculiarities while isolating and com- paring similarities.
To use Tylor's classic example, the mother-in-law tabu and matrilocal residence, though in each case unique in their local setting, are recurrent types, the cause and effect relationships of which may be compared and formulated. Anthropological terminology demonstrates that hundreds of types of culture elements, patterns, and total configurations are recognized, despite the peculiarities attaching to each in its local occurrence. Any reconstruction of the history of a particular culture implies, though it may not explicitly state, that certain causes produced certain effects.
Insights into causes are deeper when the interrelationships of historical phenomena are analyzed functionally. Functional analysis of arche- ological data has not been lacking, though archeology has used an atomistic and taxonomic approachs far more than has conventional history.
Gordon Childes is exceptional in his effort to treat archeological materials functionally. WittfogellO has been outstanding in his use of historical data to make func- tional-historical analyses of the socio-economic structure of early civilizations. Where historical data are not available, only the synchronic approach to cause and effect is possible. Radcliffe-Brown, Redfield, and Malinowski, des- pite important differences in their thinking, are distinctive for their functional analyses.
The particularists, though conceding that such formulations are theoretically possible and even desirable, are inclined to hold that in practice it is virtually impossible to isolate identifiable cause-. Similarities between cultures are interpreted as the result of a single origin and diffusion, provided. See Steward and Setzler, If ,the obstacles are very great, differences are emphasized. The use of diffusion to avoid coming to grips with problems of cause and effect not only fails to provide a consistent approach to culture history, but it gives an explanation of cultural origins that really explains nothing.
One may fairly ask whether, each time a society. In both cases, the early societies were integrated by a theocratic hierarchy, which controlled communal endeavor and enlisted labor for the construction of religious centers. It is not sufficient to say that the agricultural, social, and religious institutions merely diffused as a unit, for that would be merely stating distributions in historical terms but failing to explain process.
Incipient farming appeared first, and it diffused before the other complexes developed. The latter have a functional dependence on intensive farming. They could not have been ac- cepted anywhere until it developed, and in the course oi its development simi-.
The increasing population and the growing need for political integra- tion very probably would have created small states in each area, and these states would almost certainly have been strongly theocratic, because the super- natural aspects of farming-for example, fertility concepts, the need to reckon seasons and to forecast the rise and fall of rivers, and the like-would have placed power in the hands of religious leaders.
Diffusion may have hastened the development of theocratic states, but in each case the new developments were within determinable limits, and independently involved the same functional or cause-and-effect relationships. It is true, of course, that many peculiar features common to New World. Gladwin, Is Malinowski, , pp. Thus, the wide distribution of such concepts as the plumed serpent or the jaguar god, or of such constructions as terraced pyramids, may be explained in this manner, though deeper analysis might reveal the reasons for their wide acceptance.
In general, it is the rather arbitrary, specific, or stylized features, that is, those features which have the least functional dependence on the basic patterns, that provide the greatest evidence of diffusion.
These, in other words, are the particulars, which distinguish tribes or areas and which obscure regu- Iarities. Another means of denying the possibility of isolating cultural regularities is to stress that the complexity or multiplicity of the antecedents or functional correlates of any institution makes it virtually impossible to isolate the true causes of the institution; convergent evolution rather than parallel evolution i s generally used to explain similarities that seem not to be the result of diffusion.
The answer to this is simply that in dealing with cultural phenomena, as in dealing with all the complex phenomena of nature, regularities can be found only by looking for them, and they will be valid only if a rigorous methodology underlies the framing of hypotheses.
It is not necessary that any formulation of cultural regularities provide an ultimate explanation of culture change. In the physical and biological sciences, formulations are merely approximations of observed regularities, and they are valid as working hypotheses despite their failure to deal with ultimate realities. So long as a cultural law formulates recurrences of similar interrelationships of phenomena, it expresses cause and effect in the same way that the law of gravity formulates but does not ultimately explain the attraction between masses of matter.
Moreover, like the law of gravity, which has been greatly modified by the theory of relativity, any formulation o f cultural data may be useful as a working hypothesis, even though further research reqdres that it be qualified or reformulated. Moreover, the greater part of culture history is susceptible to treatment only in superorganic terms. Both se- quential or diachronic formulations and synchronic formulations are super- organic, and they may be functional to the extent that the data permit.
I4 Redfield, Neither type, however, is wholly one or the other. Superorganic formulations do not, of course, provide the deeper explana- tions of culture change that may come from a psychological level or a biological level.
Research on these latter levels may profitably run concurrently with the other, but for the present their formulations will be more applicable to syn- chronic, functional studies than to sequential ones. The present statement of scientific purpose and methodology rests on a.
If the more important institutions of culture can be isolated from their zlnique setting so as to be typed, classified, and related to recurring antecedents or functional correlates, it follows that it is possible to consider the insti!
For example, the American high civilizations had agriculture, social classes, and a priest- temple-idol cult. As types, these institutions are abstractions of what was ac- tually present in each area, and they do not take into account the particular crops grown, the precise patterning of the social classes, or the conceptualiza- tion of deities, details of ritual, and other religious features of each culture center.
The latter are secondary and variable s o far as the institutions i n question are concerned. In a more comprehensive analysis, however, they would serve to distinguish subtypes, which would require more specific formu- lations. This conception of culture is in conflict with an extreme organic view, which regards culture as a closed system in which all parts are of equal im- portance and are equally fixed.
It holds that some features of culture are more basic and more fixed than others and that the problem is to ascertain those which are primary and basic and to explain their origin and development. It assumes that, although the secondary features must be consistent and func- tionally integrated with the primary ones, it is these that are more susceptible to fortuitous influences from inside or outside the culture, that change most.
In general, they are the ones which individual scientists are most interested in studying and which the anthropological record shows to have recurred again and again in independent situations. A procedure which attempts to give equal weight to all features o f culture amounts to a negation of typing and of making formulations, for it must include all the unique fea- tures, which obscure similarities between cultures.
The present section deals with the development of early agricultural civili- zations in Northern Peru the sequences are longest and best known in this part of Peru, thanks to the Viru Valley project of the Institute of Andean Research , Mesoamerica Mexico and the Maya area , Mesopotamia, Egypt, and China.
These areas were chosen because they were the cradles of civiliza- tion and because their exploitation by a pre-metal technology seems to have entailed similar solutions to similar problems and consequently to have caused similar developmental sequences.
The environments are arid or semiarid, which, contrary to a common belief, did not impose great difficulties and thereby stimulate cultural development. Instead, they facilitated culture growth because they were easily tilled by digging stick and irrigation farming. The tropical rain forests, the northern hardwood forests, and the sodded plains areas, on the other hand, were exploited only with the greatest difficulty by people who lacked iron tools.
The procedure to be followed is first to estgblish a tentative developmental typology or sequence in which the smaller periods are grouped into major eras, which have similar diagnostic features in each area. This requires con- siderable revision of current terminology, for no two authors use quite the same criteria for major stages of development.
Americanists, who have dis- cussed some of these problems together,are now using such terms asFormative, Developmental, Classical, Florescent, and Empire and Conquest, and they are attempting to reach an understanding about the cultural typology implied by these terms.
Old World writers still cling largely to such entrenched terms as Mesolithic, Neolithic, Chalcolithic, Ceramolithic, Bronze, and Dynastic, thereby emphasizing technological features of minor developmental signifi- cance. Morgan, indicates that his thinking is somewhat closer.
Iron Age. Influences from Greece, Rome; later from north and central Europe. Spanish Conquest in New World destroys native empires. Sui, Tang. Ch'in, Han. Dark Ages. First Inter-.
Local states. Royal tomh. Early Dyn. Yang Shao. Old Em-. Cerro Prieto. Paleolithic and Mesolithic. The second step in the following procedure Section i s to suggest cause-and-effect relationships between the cultural phenomena o f the succes-.
CHART Spanish Conquest. I :E:gLce.
VOL, T IS about three-quarters of a century since the early anthropologists and I sociologists attempted to formulate cultural regularities in generalized or. Attention is centered on cultural differences, particulars, and peculiarities, and culture is often treated as if it developed quixotically, without determinable causes, or else appeared full-. It is unfortunate that the two approaches are so widely thought of as theoretically irreconcilable rather than as expressions of different purposes or interests. The 19th century writers had the perfectly legitimate purpose of making scientific generalizations from what they considered recurrent cultural patterns, sequences, and processes in different cultures, while the more recent school has the equally legitimate purpose of examining the distinctive or non- recurrent features of cultures. As all cultures, though unique in many respects,.
Theory Of Culture Change - Julian Steward
Cultural ecology is the study of human adaptations to social and physical environments. Human adaptation refers to both biological and cultural processes that enable a population to survive and reproduce within a given or changing environment. The central argument is that the natural environment, in small scale or subsistence societies dependent in part upon it, is a major contributor to social organization and other human institutions. In the academic realm, when combined with study of political economy , the study of economies as polities, it becomes political ecology , another academic subfield.