Julian Steward – “The Patrilineal Band”

All quotes are taken from the reading unless otherwise noted.

After “the ‘mid-century collapse’ of Historical Particularism” a resurrection of the dearly departed “cross-cultural comparison” or evolutionary perspectives on culture, began to crop up. A good example of this is the following reading, where the author states that societies that occur in similar environments develop in the same ways. Defining cultural types as those sharing cultural features forming a “core” of practices associated with subsistence, ranging in complexity from family to multi-family and finally state, hi students later “refined” this series to the “now familiar classifications of band, tribe, chiefdom, and state.” Contrary to unilineal evolutionists, Stewart believed that “cultures could evolve in any number of distinct patterns depending on their environmental circumstances.” Despite being a student of Kroeber, he butted heads with his mentor by his interest in the causes of cultural traits, Krober being the author or “The Eighteen Professions” said many times that anthropology should not be concerned with teleology, in fact anthropologists should not be concerned with causation at all, needless to say the relationship was contentious. Steward’s text is a prime example of how he shows culture to be an adaptation to the environment.

A few definitions to get us started…

Patrilineality - “is a system in which one belongs to one’s father’s lineage. It generally involves the inheritance of property, names or titles through the male line as well.” -Wikipedia

Patrilocality – “is a term referring to the social system in which a married couple resides with or near the husband’s parents.” – Wikipedia
It is important to note that patrilocality is more readily visible through the examination of marriage practices.

Exogamy – In this context, “exogamy is the marrying outside of a specific group.” Particularly, avoiding incest by marrying outside of the immediate family, potentially cross or parallel cousins may be preferred marriage partners.

 A Breakdown of the Reading

It is important to note that a recurring theme that permeates Steward’s writings are far from the Historical Particularists of his day in that he is almost consumed with an interest in discovering “general laws of culture.” In this instance Steward is attempting to find a correlation between environment and the subsequent cultural construction. The result of this study is the notion of, as so termed by Dr. Mullooly, Environmental Determinism.

About these ads
Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Comments

  • benjamin johnson  On March 18, 2011 at 10:28 am

    Julian stewards attempt to find general laws of culture, reflects a theme reflected by others in their return to the Neo-evolutionary thought. They (Stewart, White, and Murdock) were trying to quantify something that contains infinite variables, and there for not reliable. Though it should be noted that the rise of scientific thought was full-fledged, and social and cultural anthropologists fell victim to this in attempt to resolve what i think of as a “field wide identity crisis”. This attempt to prove to the other sciences that anthropology could use the same types of scientific methods to reach valuable and finite conclusions (valuable yes, finite no). Today perhaps we have evolved into a more self confident field and (dare I say) feel more comfortable in our levels of variability that characterize the social sciences.
    But this is not to say that the work of the Neo-evolutionists was not valuable, on the contrary it is the mistakes that one learns form perhaps more so than the successes. Julian Stewart turned a great many heads with his work “Patrilineal Bands” and set a great deal of thought into motion. By considering the environments influence on social order we find useful discussion as to the structure and dependences of our own.
    His basis for a group arriving at such a state of patriliniality relied on several necessities. He argued that if a native group of people were: A) gatherers and hunters of small game (rather than following migratory herds) B) had basic projectile technology, and C) had limited population size because of resource availability then they would ‘likely’ be patralinial. This causation was supported further by the sexist notion that males naturally hold dominant social positions.
    Interesting? Yes. Scientifically valid? Not really. It is quite reasonable to suggest that environmental resources could play a role in the way a tribe or group structures itself, but to suggest that a rule or constant had been found, and could be applied globally, is unreasonable (not to mention the sexist foundation, which I feel doesn’t even really need to be addressed as it is reflective of historical perspective).

  • Leslie Sipat  On March 20, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    I wonder if there’s an overall preference of the patrillineal band in more places than we realize. When I think of my family ( Mother and Father’s side), it seems to get a little confusing. I guess seeing it as a whole is confusing because the difference lies in the individuals in the family.

    I do agree with Stewart and his belief that “cultures could evolve in any number of distinct patterns depending on their environmental circumstances.” I could say I see this with people who immigrated to the United States. Many big cities exhibit the combination of culture and environment (NYC, Los Angeles, Chicago).

Trackbacks

  • [...] Julian Steward Studied anthropology at Berkley under A.L. Kroeber. He first started in archeology and then moved to ethnography and worked with the Shoshoni, Pueblo, and later the Carrier Indians in British Columbia. He investigated the parallel developmental sequences in the evolution of civilizations in the New and Old Worlds. He proposed that cultures in similar environments would tend to follow the same developmental sequences and formulate similar responses to their environmental challenges. Steward did not believe that cultures followed a single universal sequence of development; he proposed instead that cultures could evolve in any number of distinct patterns depending on their environmental circumstances. He called this theory multilinear evolution to distinguish it from unilineal evolutionary theory. He then created the field of study called Cultural Ecology (the examination of the cultural adaptations formulated by human beings to meet the challenges posed by their environments). [...]

  • [...] Julian Steward Studied anthropology at Berkley under A.L. Kroeber. He first started in archeology and then moved to ethnography and worked with the Shoshoni, Pueblo, and later the Carrier Indians in British Columbia. He investigated the parallel developmental sequences in the evolution of civilizations in the New and Old Worlds. He proposed that cultures in similar environments would tend to follow the same developmental sequences and formulate similar responses to their environmental challenges. Steward did not believe that cultures followed a single universal sequence of development; he proposed instead that cultures could evolve in any number of distinct patterns depending on their environmental circumstances. He called this theory multilinear evolution to distinguish it from unilineal evolutionary theory. He then created the field of study called Cultural Ecology (the examination of the cultural adaptations formulated by human beings to meet the challenges posed by their environments). [...]

  • By Julian steward | Greenovationha on July 14, 2012 at 4:27 am

    [...] Julian Steward – “The Patrilineal Band” « Making Anthropology PublicMar 13, 2011 … All quotes are taken from the reading unless otherwise noted. After “the ‘mid- century collapse’ of Historical Particularism” a resurrection of the … [...]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,540 other followers

%d bloggers like this: