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January 2022

A necessary unity: The articulation of ecological and social explanations of behaviour

Journal/Book: J Roy Anthropol Inst. 1996; 2: 50 Fitzroy Street, London, England W1P 5HS. Royal Anthropological Inst. 141-158.

Abstract: This article is concerned with the way that ecological and social factors interact to influence behaviour, and takes issue with those who ascribe causal priority to one or the other set of factors. Ecological relationships are identified as those that affect the material outcome that can be expected from an action; social relationships are identified as those that affect the use an actor could make of that outcome. This distinction maps onto that between production and consumption, between the simultaneous acquisition and utilization of resources which is entailed in all action. Both classes of relationship constrain the value of an action and thus affect the probability of its reproduction; they should be understood as mutually constitutive systems, articulated through the actor. Explanations which emphasize ecological constraints on behaviour, and explanations which emphasize social constraints, are shown to trace different paths through the same field of relationships between persons and environments.

Note: Article M Minnegal, Univ Queensland, Dept Sociol & Anthropol, Brisbane, Qld 4072, Australia

Keyword(s): ACHE HUNTER-GATHERERS; EASTERN PARAGUAY; SUBSISTENCE; WORK; ANTHROPOLOGY; PERSPECTIVE; ENVIRONMENT; SOCIETIES; MODELS; CHOICE


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