Human Ecology as Human Behavior

A Normative Anthropology of Resource Use and Abuse
  • John W. Bennett
Part of the Human Behavior and Environment book series (HUBE, volume 4)


Since the term “anthropology” appears in the title, and since anthropology is intimately associated with the concept of culture, it is necessary at the outset to describe the writer’s views on the use and meaning of the concept. I consider that “culture” is an abstract generalization made from observing behavior, and, as such, it cannot be a cause of that same behavior.1 However, some of the various phenomena included in the catchall conception of culture are undeniably influential in shaping concepts and practices related to the physical environment. But these phenomena have differing roles to play in this complex process, and therefore must be treated separately. For example, while ideology may influence conceptions of the conservation of resources for posterity, consumer desires may work in the opposite direction. To say that “culture” shapes or determines our use of the environment thus has little meaning. It is necessary to specify what components of culture, in what circumstances, at what times. Moreover, it is necessary to translate these cultural elements into active behavioral tendencies: responses and adaptations made by real people in real-life contexts.


Human Behavior Rational Choice Great Plain Adaptive Process Birth Interval 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • John W. Bennett
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyWashington UniversitySt. LouisUSA

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