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Cultural Anthropology: The Human Challenge > CH 7 Review > Flashcards

Flashcards in CH 7 Review Deck (17)
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Adaptation is the process organisms undergo to achieve a beneficial adjustment to a particular environment.

The environment is a defined space with limited resources that presents certain possibilities and limitations.


Adaptation occurs not only when humans make changes in their natural environment

But also when they are biologically changed by that environment.


Cultural adaptation is the complex of ideas, activities, and technologies that enable people to survive in a certain environment

That in turn impacts the environment.


An ecosystem is a functioning whole composed of

The natural environment and all the organisms living in it.


Culture areas are geographic regions in which a number of societies have similar ways of life.

Such regions often correspond to ecological regions.


Food foraging, the oldest and most universal mode of subsistence, requires people to relocate according to changing food sources.

Its characteristics include mobility, small group size, flexible male/female labor division, food sharing, egalitarianism, communal property, and rarity of warfare.


The shift from food foraging to food production, known as the Neolithic revolution, began about 10,000 years ago.

It involved the domestication of plants and animals.


Horticulture, the cultivation of crops in gardens using simple hand tools

Includes slash-and-burn cultivation in which the natural vegetation is cut, the slash is burned, and crops are planted among the ashes.


Agriculture, a more complex activity, involves growing crops on farms with irrigation, fertilizers, and animal-powered plows.

Food production led to fixed settlements, new technologies, and altered division of labor.


Mixed farming involves crop growing and animal breeding

It may occur in mountainous environments where farmers practice transhumance, moving their livestock between high-altitude summer pastures and lowland valleys.


Pastoralism relies on breeding and managing large herds of domesticated herbivores, such as cattle, sheep, and goats.

Pastoralists are usually nomadic, moving as needed to provide animals with pasture and water.


Intensive agriculture led to urbanization and peasantry.

Farm settlements grew into towns and cities, and social complexity expanded to include labor specialization, elite classes, public management, taxation, and policing.


Industrial food production features large-scale businesses involved in mass food production, processing, and marketing, and relying on laborsaving machines.

It is rooted in the industrial revolution, which began in the late 1700s with the invention of the steam engine. Machines replaced human labor, animal power, and hand tools, leading to massive cultural change in many societies.


Today’s industrial food production and global marketing complex, involving a network of interlinked distribution centers

Are made possible by an electronic-digital revolution that began in the late 20th century.


Cultural evolution, the changing of cultures over time, should not be confused with the idea of progress

The notion that humans are moving forward to a better, more advanced stage in their development toward perfection.


Convergent evolution is the development of similar cultural adaptations to similar environmental conditions by different peoples with different ancestral cultures.

Parallel evolution is the same phenomenon, but it emerges with peoples whose ancestral cultures were already similar.


Human groups do not always make the necessary adaptive changes, and this can devastate populations and the natural environment.

Easter Island is a tragic example of catastrophic environmental destruction.