Middle-Range Theory and Hunter-Gatherers

  • Robert L. Bettinger
Part of the Interdisciplinary Contributions to Archaeology book series (IDCA)


Contemporary hunter-gatherer archaeology is preoccupied with theories of limited sets. It will be recalled that such theories are called upon to articulate the principles of general theories. This they do by relating the general principle to particular cases and showing how such cases result from that principle in the presence of special conditions. In this sense, limited theories are theories about special cases that coincide with expectations of general theory. The limited theories that presently dominate hunter-gatherer archaeology began as attempts to articulate the neofunctional general theory (or paradigm) out of which the ecological model of hunter-gatherers was constructed during the “man-the-hunter” era. In broad terms, that paradigm implied that hunter-gatherer societies had to be explained as functioning adaptive systems. As attractive and promising as the idea seemed, it was not altogether clear what it actually meant.1


Archaeological Record Residential Mobility Faunal Assemblage Site Formation Early Hominid 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert L. Bettinger
    • 1
  1. 1.University of California, DavisDavisUSA

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