The inextricable relationship between culture and technology has been addressed by many anthropologists, such as White (1949), Harris (1968), Sahlins and Service (1988), Schiffer (1992), and Basalla (1993). Many anthropologists and historians view cultural change and technological development as progressing in a linear or multilinear fashion, and frequently discuss them in evolutionary terms (White, 1949; Sahlins and Service, 1988; Basalla, 1993). A common thread among all of these views is that culture and technology progress, sometimes rapidly, sometimes more slowly, but always moving forward with newer, more efficient forms replacing older less effective ones. Another common thread is the inevitability of change. Change, like death and taxes, may indeed be certain, but a new idea, tool, or method introduced to a culture is merely an alternative, not an inevitability. When the term “evolution” is used in discussions of cultural or technological change, it seems to imply that humans passively accept change and once change is set into motion, the ways of the past are forever abandoned. These theories fail to consider that a group may reject a new thing altogether or that one or more social groups or individuals within the culture may resist the change and choose to attempt to continue in their traditional lifeways.
KeywordsNineteenth Century Common Thread Steam Power Teenth Century Sailing Ship
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