• Gillian G. Tan
Part of the Studies in Human Ecology and Adaptation book series (STHE, volume 10)


This book has proposed a framework for change, based on a view of change that is not only predicated on substantive fixity but also—and more crucially—understood through probing and analyzing relationships. In this regard, the argument draws certain parallels with Sahlins’ (Historical metaphors and mythical realities: Structure in the early history of the Sandwich Islands kingdoms, University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, MI, 1981; Islands of history, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1985) work on cultural change. Through the “structure of the conjuncture,” Sahlins demonstrated how a system or structure could transform. Importantly, the impetus behind the transformation was not an external force or agent, although the presence of a “new” variable, namely the event, initiated transformations in structure. Instead, transformations were created by the conjuncture of certain cultural categories (structure) and the new variable (event) given by people acting according to relationships. This chapter considers this argument in light of the analyses on adaptations and transformations. It reflects on the conceptual implications of a framework for change, based on different orders and kinds, and cautions about being overly distinct with analytical categories when detailing ethnographic complexities. It also offers insights into the practical implications of actions based on a view of change as fundamentally connected to stability.


Structure of the conjuncture Ethnographic complexity Orders of change Kinds of change Conceptual and practical implications 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gillian G. Tan
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Humanities and Social SciencesDeakin UniversityGeelongAustralia

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