Rola ekologii kulturowej w badaniach środowiskowych
The Role of Cultural Ecology in Environmental Studies
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Cultural ecology examines in a systematic way the interdependence between the environment, technology and the patterns of human behaviour. It employs methods typical of the social sciences in order to describe the processes of adaptation and the transformations of the given communities in the natural environment proper for them. Fully developed formulation of cultural ecology took place in Julian Steward’s book Theory of Culture Change (1955). The idea of cultural ecology initiated by Julian Steward has undergone a serious transformation and today it can hardly be called a uniform and coherent scientific concept. On the contrary, one can say that it attracts scientists representing a very wide spectrum of disciplines and who examine very diverse phenomena. The only thing they seem to have in common is the fact that all of them point to the connection between the technology used, the natural environment, and human behaviour. Cultural ecology is a still valid method of analysing old and new problems concerning the interdependence of small groups of people and the natural environment. It is particularly useful for examining the communities of hunter-gatherers, pastoralists, preindustrial cultivators as well as contemporary rural societies. It seems that this concept still has potential, which has not been fully employed yet. The best proof for the vitality of this idea is constant reflection concerning it and the successive attempts at improving it; together with the voices of constructive criticism they warrant that cultural ecology holds its place among several other approaches analysing the relationship between man and the natural environment.
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