Remarks on <i>The People of Puerto Rico</i>

Eric R. Wolf

in Pathways of Power

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 2001 | ISBN: 9780520223332
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520924871 | DOI:
Remarks on The People of Puerto Rico

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This chapter discusses Julian H. Steward's cultural-ecological approach to the study of communities as well as complex societies as multilevel systemic structures. The Puerto Rico project exemplifies this approach to area studies. The research strategy that Steward brought to bear upon the study of Puerto Rico was that of cultural ecology, which provides answer an to the question of “whether the adjustments of human societies to their environments require particular modes of behavior or whether they permit latitude for a certain range of possible behavior patterns.” This method studies empirically the relationships between a culturally available technology and an environment. The four regions that are illustrated through inquiries into four representative Puerto Rican communities represent particular combinations of capital and labor at a particular moment in time. To explain their relative position with regard to one another requires a view vastly more dynamic than those offered either by cultural ecology or by the concept of levels of sociocultural integration.

Keywords: Puerto Rico; cultural ecology; sociocultural integration; behavior patterns; human societies

Chapter.  4281 words. 

Subjects: Theory and Practice of Anthropology

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