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Chapter 14: Cultural Evolution

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Reading Assignment: Chapter 14: Cultural Evolution and the Contemporary World

In this assignment you will learn the processes by which the worlds non-industrialized societies are becoming extinct. You will learn about the effects of industrialization and development on the underdeveloped societies of the world today. You will develop insights into the nature of peasant societies, including those of the past as well as the present.

You will be introduced to the role of applied anthropology in efforts at directed cultural change and the problems that population growth posses for underdeveloped countries.

Assignment Overview

MCQ   ::  Matching   ::  True/False  ::   Short Essay

MCQ - Chapter 14: Cultural Evolution and the Contemporary World

1. Acculturation is best defined as:

a. the loss of culture by a human society.
b. culture change brought on by intense interaction between two cultures.
c. intense loyalties to a culture in response to competition.
d. the idea that the more powerful society is likely to change more than the less powerful society.

2. The concept of SPECIFIC EVOLUTION is best defined as:

a. change in the direction of increasing adaptive specialization.
b. the evolution of a specific culture.
c. the evolution of a specific subsystem of a culture.
d. any change in a particular cultural trait.

3. Which of the following is true of the GENERAL EVOLUTION of cultures?

a. It is a stage that all cultures must pass through.
b. It refers to qualitative changes in cultural complexity.
c. It has no counterpart in biological evolution.
d. It involves increases in the degree of efficient adaptation

4. The psychological effects of peoples’ declining control over their personal lives that can come with increasing cultural complexity is called:

a. depression.
b. compartmentalization.
c. powerlessness.
d. alienation.

5. Indigenous people are:

a. Those in a territory before the present occupants arrived.
b. The original inhabitants, now politically subordinate to those who control the area.
c. The poorer members of a society.
d. those born into a particular society and territory, as opposed to those who immigrated there.

6. Industrialization refers to:

a. The subordination of native peoples to the political systems of industrialized nations.
b. The shift from home production to large-scale, mechanized factory production of goods.
c. Government funding to mechanize factories totally.
d. Private funding to mechanize factories totally.

7. What impact does industrialization usually have on family farm production practices?

a. The number of different crops increases.
b. The number of different crops decreases.
c. The number of different crops stays about the same.
d. Their cash crops increase and provide the family with all its food.

8. Peasants are:

a. Any poor people
b. Poor people who grow their own food.
c. Food producers who employ and feed only their neighbors.
d. Food producers who use pre-industrial techniques and are subordinate politically and socially.

9. According to the text, colonialism involved all but the practice of:

a. Encouraging production of nonfood cash crops.
b. Taxing peasants and requiring payment in cash.
c. Using physical force to take possession of land.
d. Paying peasants high prices for growing nonfood crops for export.

10. According to Fisher, government-sponsored development projects often fail due to:

a. technological problems in the government.
b. environmental difficulties.
c. peasant distrust of authority. and ideological problems in project planning and handling

Matching Exercise - Chapter 14: Cultural Evolution and the Contemporary World

1. innovation
2. stimulus diffusion
3. acculturation
4. assimilation
5. Law of Cultural Dominance
6. Basic Law of Cultural Evolution
7. specific evolution
8. general evolution
9. Principle of Stabilization
10. Law of Evolutionary Potential
11. Law of Local Discontinuity of Progress
12. alienation

13. indigenous people
14. frontier areas
15. ethnocide
16. genocide
17. industrialization
18. underdeveloped country
19. developing country
20. urbanization
21. peasants
22. neocolonialism
23. image of limited good
24. culture of poverty
25. refugees



the systematic extermination of a people



the borrowing of the idea for a cultural trait by one society from another, with the implementation of that idea being more or less determined within the borrowing culture



underdeveloped nation undergoing industrialization



displaced people who have been forced from their homes and means of livelihood because of the fear of political persecution



the concept that the more efficient a culture becomes at harnessing energy for society, the more expensive and difficult it becomes to implement new means of increasing efficiency



changes in a culture as a result of discovery or invention



an approach to life often found in situations of poverty in which actions are directed only to satisfying the needs of the present, by spending and consuming all income, because saving for the future seems futile



change in the direction of increasing adaptive specialization



the systematic destruction of a traditional way of life



the process of change from an economy based on home production of goods to one based on large-scale, mechanized factory production



the idea that the successive stages of general evolutionary change are not likely to occur in the same locality



a fatalistic outlook common in situations of peasant poverty, in which the drudgery of life is not believed to bring much reward, since the achievement of one person can only be accomplished at the expense of another



the concept that a culture's capacity to move from one general evolutionary stage to another varies inversely with the degree of its specific evolutionary adaptation to its environment



the process in which two or more cultures interact intensely so that they change in the process of borrowing traits and adjusting to each other



the concept that increases in energy harnessed or in efficiency of its use through technological change are the primary cause of cultural evolution



change that occurs to a culture when when a previously distinct society comes in contact with and interacts intensively with another society and loses its autonomy in the process



the process in which an increasing portion of a society’s population becomes concentrated in cities



the principle that the cultural system that effectively exploits the energy resources of a given environment has the tendency to spread into that environment at the expense of less effective systems



the contemporary world system in which exploitation of underdeveloped nations' enforced by the economic necessity of their participation rather than by political coercion



people who use non-industrialized, labor-intensive techniques for producing food and who are politically and economically subordinate to a governing class of which they are not a part and with whom they have little influence



a group of people whose occupation of an area precedes the state political system that now controls that area, and who have little or no influence within that political system



dissociation of workers from ownership of things they produce, accompanied by feelings of powerlessness and boredom



change in the direction of increasing complexity



lands unproductive for industrialized agriculture that are opened to settlement by national governments that do not recognize the claims of the indigenous population



nation with a largely non-industrialized economy

True/False - Chapter 14: Cultural Evolution and the Contemporary World






1. The spread of tobacco around the world is an example of STIMULUS DIFFUSION.



2. GENERAL EVOLUTION occurs when societies harness new sources of energy for new uses.



3. The LAW OF EVOLUTIONARY POTENTIAL suggests that the societies that have undergone the most specific evolutionary change are the most prepared to undergo a general evolutionary change.



4. General evolutionary development is synonymous with progress in the quality of life.



5. Nonstate societies of the world are becoming extinct.



6. Most underdeveloped countries suffer from severe shortages of land, capital, or labor.



7. Industrialization has helped all segments of society equally.



8. Colonialism undermined the economic self-sufficiency of peasant societies.



9. Anthropologists feel that those who design projects for improving the lives of peasant people should be familiar with their ways of life.



10. Hunter believes the problem in underdeveloped countries is basically a matter of too little growth in population to achieve enough productive labor.

Short Essay Questions - Chapter 14: Cultural Evolution and the Contemporary World

1. When two cultures interact, what factor may cause one to be more likely than the other to undergo acculturation?

2. Explain the Law of Cultural Dominance.

3. What effects did the introduction of steel axes have on Yir Yiront culture?

4. Explain Thomas Harding`s Principle of Stabilization.

5. Explain Sahlins and Service's Law of Evolutionary Potential.

6. Explain the Law of Local Discontinuity of Progress.

7. What are indigenous peoples? How many indigenous people are there in the world and what percent of the world's current population do they represent?

8 How does economic production and consumption differ in industrialized societies and pre-industrialized ones? How does farming for one's own consumption differ from farming cash crops?

9. How did colonial governments encourage peasants to shift from the raising of food crops for their own consumption to export crops?

10. How have the People’s Republic of China and Singapore attempted to reduce population growth in their countries and which approach has been more successful?

Copyright 2008, by the Contributing Authors. Cite/attribute Resource . admin. (2005, January 04). Chapter 14: Cultural Evolution. Retrieved January 07, 2011, from Free Online Course Materials — USU OpenCourseWare Web site: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons License