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Allen W. Johnson, Timothy Earle

The Evolution of Human Societies: From Foraging Group to Agrarian State (an excerpt)

2016. Vol. 17. No. 5. P. 30–76 [issue contents]

Is it appropriate to claim that population growth is caused by improvements in people’s standards of living? How can we explain the evolution and growth of the complexity of human societies? The book The Evolution of Human Societies: From Foraging Group to Agrarian State seeks to illuminate these and other questions. The authors have an ambitious aim to formulate integral evolutionary theory suitable to account for the diversity of modern societies. Drawing upon archeological and historical evidence with a rich body of ethnographic data, including their own fieldwork, Т. Earle and А. Johnson present 19 case studies that range widely over time and space. The primary engine for sociocultural evolution is population growth and the associated economic and social changes. The authors argue that society development can be understood through the examination of three connected processes—intensification, integration, and stratification.
Journal of Economic Sociology has published the introductory chapter of the book. In this part of the book, the authors critically revise anthropological theories that explain society development. They reconstruct the logic and point out the limitations of two dominant research lines: linear evolutionary theories and cultural relativism. Other authors describe the Doomsday equation and suggest their interpretation of drastic population growth within a short period. Combining the social evolutionism approach and economic anthropology, Т. Earle and А. Johnson explicate why sociocultural evolution is rooted in the social and political organization of the economy.

Citation: Johnson A., Earle T. (2016) Evolyutsiya chelovecheskikh obshchestv: ot dobyvayushchey obshchiny k agrarnomu gosudarstvu [The Evolution of Human Societies: From Foraging Group to Agrarian State (an excerpt)]. Economic Sociology, vol. 17, no 5, pp. 30-76 (in Russian)
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