The Individual in Cultural Adaptation: A Study of Four East African Peoples

The Individual in Cultural Adaptation: A Study of Four East African Peoples

The Individual in Cultural Adaptation: A Study of Four East African Peoples

The Individual in Cultural Adaptation: A Study of Four East African Peoples

Excerpt

THE INDIVIDUAL IN CULTURAL ADAPTATION is the detailed analysis of the attitudes, values, and personality attributes of four East African peoples. It is a particularly crucial part of a research program designed to demonstrate the process of cultural adaptation. It is my responsibility to set forth the broader context within which Robert Edgerton's study was executed, to give the theoretical orientation of our common enterprise, and to place this book within that framework.

In very general terms, the Culture and Ecology Project was perceived as a means of illuminating the process of cultural evolution. It is a study, if you will, in the microevolution of culture. The four tribes selected for analysis each had sectors with primary emphasis on farming and other sectors with primary emphasis on pastoralism. The focus of our attention has been to record the differences between these sectors and to discover whether such internal variances demonstrated consistent patterns of adaptation in accord with a general theoretical construct of the relationship between the manner in which a livelihood is secured and the patterned aspects of interpersonal relationships and the behavior, values, and attitudes of the personnel.

The research was prosecuted by a team of six scholars: four ethnographers, each of whom recorded the social behavior in two communities (one predominantly farming, the other predominantly pastoral) in one of the tribes; a geographer who examined the environmental base and studied the economic relations of man to the land in all four tribes; and Edgerton, whose work consisted primarily of securing responses to a battery of questionnaires and tests from sample populations of each of the eight communities under investigation.

It can readily be seen that we have attempted to preserve the holistic approach that characterizes anthropological study while at the same time taking cognizance of internal variation and individual behavior, and have therefore used statistical treatment whenever possible and appropriate. The holistic approach was necessary, for our . . .

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