Miller’s Indices and Consumer-Choice Profiles

Status-Related Behaviors and White Ceramics
  • Suzanne M. Spencer-Wood


A major area of research in archaeology is concerned with the connections between artifact patterns and sociocultural behavior patterns. Since Binford considered “the study and establishment of correlations between types of social structure classified on the basis of behavioral attributes and structural types of material elements as one of the major areas of anthropological research yet to be developed” (Binford 1962:219), archaeologists have increasingly studied relationships between social and economic stratification and artifact attribute patterns (Flannery and Coe 1968; Hill 1968; Hoffman 1974; Sanders and Webster 1978; Watson 1978). A growing body of research in historical archaeology has contributed analyses of artifact attributes that have been related to social and economic status of site residents (Deagan 1982:164–165, 1983; Drucker 1981; Geismar 1982; Mudar 1978; Otto 1984; Poe 1979; Singer 1985; Schulz and Gust 1983). Miller (1980) recently developed ceramic price scaling indices to measure the mean value of whiteware decorative types in a site ceramic assemblage. Because the attribute of decoration affected whiteware prices, it was hypothesized to be related to socioeconomic status. This research is concerned with the effects of alternative methods for testing the hypothesized relationship between Miller’s indices and household participation in consumer behaviors of socioeconomic groups. Perhaps most importantly, a refinement in the use of Miller’s indices is proposed, called a consumer choice profile, that involves the analysis of archaeological patterns of whiteware decorative type values in an archaeological assemblage.


Historical Archaeology Vessel Count Body Sherd Sherd Count Site Assemblage 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Suzanne M. Spencer-Wood
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of MassachusettsBostonUSA

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