Dichotomy of Paradigms in Cultural Ecology
A comparison between classificatory cultural ecology and human behavioral ecology using representative articles.
This paper examines and compares the basic elements, theories, and methods of cultural ecology and human behavioral ecology and discusses how the articles fit in their respective paradigms and within cultural ecology at large.
“In any field of study, researchers operate under paradigms: often unnoticed scientific world-views that shape which data the researcher collects, how he/she collects it, and what conclusions he/she draws from that data. Two paradigms in the field of cultural ecology include classificatory cultural ecology, exemplified by Tappers and trappers: parallel process in acculturation (Murphy & Steward) and human behavioral ecology, as in Optimal diet breadth theory as a model to explain variability in Amazonian hunting (Hames and Vickers). Both of these articles study indigenous Amazonian populations, but each from a different paradigm and thus with different methods and results. Through a comparison of these two articles, this paper will explore the differences and similarities of these two paradigms and how the paradigms the researchers worked under shaped their studies.”