Middle-Range Theory in Archaeology

A Critical Review of Origins and Applications
  • L. Mark Raab
  • Albert C. Goodyear
Part of the The Springer Series in Underwater Archaeology book series (SSUA)


The concept of middle-range theory, arising over three decades ago in sociology, is reviewed. The concept was proposed as an approach to theorizing, urging consolidation of high-order theories with low-order empirical studies. The critical elements in such hierarchies are theories of a middle-range of abstraction. However, most current conceptions of “middle-range theory” in archaeology are far more narrowly conceived. Derived primarily from Binford’s work, they continue the New Archaeology’s attempt to develop a materialist epistemology for archaeology. In this view, principles of site formation processes are nearly synonymous with “middle-range theory.” The dangers to theory building of this approach are outlined. Examples of middle-range theory that expand our capacity for explanation of cultural behavior are presented.


Archaeological Record Sociological Theory Theory Building Cultural Behavior American Archaeology 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. Mark Raab
  • Albert C. Goodyear

There are no affiliations available

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