Four Neo-Evolutionists Walk into a Bar: Steward, White, Service & Fried

Neo-evolutionary anthropology developed in the mid-Twentieth Century as a response to the need to develop theories that better explained cultural differences, similarities and the processes of culture change than the British Structural-Functionalists or the American Historical Particularists. The need was especially felt in archeology for an empirical method that could be used to categorize types of societies from material evidence. This new theoretical perspective incorporated evolutionary theory with Marxism, Structural-Functionalism of British anthropology, the American Historical Particularists and other perspectives. Neo-evolutionists Julian Steward, Leslie White influenced their successors at Columbia University Elman Service, Morton Fried, Marvin Harris and Sidney Mintz . The following essay will compare and contrast the explanations for social evolution of Steward and White and that of their successors Service and Fried. Continue reading

Individual and Society: The contrasting views of Benedict, Geertz and Wilson

What is the relationship between the individual and his or her society/culture? Does a person’s culture and society determine his beliefs and behavior? Or do the individual beliefs and behaviors based on self-interest, collectively comprise a culture and determine the cohesion of a society? In this paper I will compare and contrast the views of Ruth Benedict, Clifford Geetz and David Sloan Wilson on the relationship between people and their culture and society. Continue reading