Behavior, Selection, Agency, Practice, and Beyond

Chapter 1 outlined our theory for studying technological variability and change. In this chapter, we address other models that deal with these issues. Although there are a number of approaches to understanding the relationships between people and things (e.g., Broughton and O’Connell 1999; Fitzhugh 2001; O’Connell 1995), here we focus on three major schools of thought that are common in contemporary archaeology: Evolutionary Archaeology, what we call the “French school,” and agency and practice theory. The relationship between selectionism, one variant of Evolutionary Archaeology, and Behavioral Archaeology has been explored previously (O’Brien et al. 1998; Schiffer 1996), so those arguments need to be reviewed but briefly here. We will, however, spend some time on the relationship between our model and the French school. Although we have already discussed some areas of overlap between these approaches, there is need for a more detailed discussion. Finally, we review how agency and practice theory have been applied to the understanding of material culture change. These approaches are quite compatible with our model and can be integrated in a useful way. This chapter concludes with several examples that illustrate a behavioral strategy for investigating social power.


Archaeological Record Thermal Shock Resistance Social Power Historical Archaeology Colorado Plateau 
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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

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