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Original affluent society

The ” original tributary society ” is a postulating theory that hunter-gatherers were the original affluent society. This theory was first articulated by Marshall Sahlins at a symposiumentitled “Man the Hunter” in 1966. [1] The significance of the theory from its role in shifting anthropological thought away from the hunter-gatherer societies as primitive , to see them as practitioners of a refined mode of subsistence .

At the time of the symposium new research by anthropologists, Such As Richard B. Lee ‘s work on the ! Kung of southern Africa , challenging popular notions Was That hunter-gatherer societies Were always near the brink of starvation and Continuously engaged in a struggle for survival. [2] Sahlins gathered the data from these studies and used it to support a comprehensive argument that states that hunter-gatherers did not suffer from deprivation , but instead lived in a society in which “all the people’s wants are easily satisfied.” [3]


The basis of Sahlins’ argument is that hunter-gatherer societies are able to achieve affluence by desiring little and meeting those needs. This book is about ” Zen road to affluence , which states that human material is finite and few, and technical means unchanging purpose on the whole” (Sahlins, Original ). This compares to the western way to affluence, which he terms as ” Galbraithean way” where “man’s wants are great, not to say infinite, given his means are limited …” and “the gap between means and ends can eventually be narrowed by industrial productivity “. [3]Thus Sahlins argues that hunter-gatherer and western societies take separate roads to affluence, the train by desiring little, the latter by producing much. Through this comparison Sahlins also stresses that hunter-gatherer societies can not be viewed through an ethnocentric framework when measuring their affluence. For example, one can not apply the general principles of economics (qui Reflect principles and Western values EMPHASIZE surplus) to hunter-gatherers nor shoulds one believe que la Neolithic Revolution Brought unquestioned progress.

The tributary of the affluent, the theory of the original tributary society, which is so widely held about hunter-gatherer societies that were popular at the time of the symposium. Sahlins states that hunter-gatherers have a “marvelously varied diet ” [4] based on the abundance of local flora and fauna. This demonstrates that hunter-gatherers do not exist Through knowledge of their environment, hunter-gatherers are able to change their lives and resources. Throughout they are able to effectively and efficiently provide for and minimize the amount of time spent procuring food. “[T] he food is so successful that the people do not know what to do with themselves”. [4] Hunter-gatherers also experience “affluence without abundance” [4] as they would meet their requirements and not require surplus nor material possessions (as these would be a hindrance to their nomadiclifestyle). The lack of surplus also demonstrates that they will trust their environment . By foraging only for their immediate needs among plentiful resources, hunter-gatherers are able to increase the amount of leisure time available to them. Thus, despite living in the country of society, the nature of poverty, the hunter-gatherer society, the employment of other people, and the survival of others. These are the reasons the tributary society is that of the hunter-gatherer. [4]

Through his thesis on the affluent society, Sahlins deconstructed the then popular notions that hunter-gatherers are primitive and constantly working hard to ward off starvation. However, it is always necessary to avoid shifting, with new paradigms constantly emerging. [2] One must also acknowledge that one can not generalize about hunter-gatherer societies. Although they have been pushed to the margins of society, they are still many societies in the world.

“Work time” and “leisure time”

Cet article May lend undue weight to some ideas, incidents or controversies . Please help to create a more balanced presentation. Discuss and resolve this issue before removing this message. (December 2012)

Sahlins’ argument is partly related to studies undertaken by McCarthy and McArthur in Arnhem Land , and by Richard Borshay Lee among the Kung. These studies show that hunter-gatherers need to work on their lives. [4] Lee did not include food preparation in his study, arguing that “work” should be defined as the time spent gathering enough food for sustenance. [5]When the time is spent on food acquisition, processing, and cooking was added together, the estimate per week was 44.5 hours for men and 40.1 hours for women, but Lee added that this is still modern western households. [5]

The Three to Five Hour Working Day

Sahlins concludes that the hunter-gatherer only works in food production. [6] [7] Using data Gathered from various foraging societies and quantitative surveys done Among the Arhem Landers of Australia and quantitative materials cataloged by Richard Lee on the Dobe Bushmen of the Kalahari , Sahlins Argues That hunter-gatherer tribes are reliable to meet Their 15-20 hours per week or less. [5]


Sahlins’ theory has been challenged by a number of scholars in the field of anthropology and archeology. They assert that hunter-gatherer societies were not “affluent” but suffered from extremely high infant mortality, frequent disease, and perennial warfare. [8] [9] [10] This appears to be true not only of historical foraging cultures, but also prehistoric and primeval ones.

See also

  • The Affluent Society
  • Eco-communalism
  • Golden Age
  • Primitive communism
  • Anarcho-primitivism
  • Distributism


  1. Jump up^ Jacqueline S. Solway (2006). The Politics of Equality: Theory and Practice . Berghahn Books. p. 65. ISBN  978-1-84545-115-8 .
  2. ^ Jump up to:b Barnard, Alan (1983). Contemporary Hunter-Gatherers: Current Theoretical Issues in Ecology and Social Organization. Annual Review of Anthropology . 12 : 193-214. JSTOR  2155646 . doi : 10.1146 / annurev.an.12.100183.001205 .
  3. ^ Jump up to:b Sahlins, M. (1968). “Notes on the Original Affluent Society”, Man the Hunter. RB Lee and I. DeVore (New York: Aldine Publishing Company) pp. 85-89. ISBN  020233032X
  4. ^ Jump up to:e Sahlins, M. (2005). The Original Affluent Society [Online] in M. Sahlins, Stone Age Economics
  5. ^ Jump up to:c Kaplan, David (2000). “The Darker Side of the Original Affluent Society ” (PDF) . Journal of Anthropological Research . 56 (3): 301-324. JSTOR  3631086 . doi : 10.1086 / jar.56.3.3631086 .
  6. Jump up^ http://www.primitivism.com/original-affluent.htm
  7. Jump up^ Sahlins, Marshall (2009). “Hunter-gatherers: insights from a golden affluent age” (PDF) . Pacific Ecologist . 18 : 3-8.
  8. Jump up^ Keeley, Lawrence. War Before Civilization
  9. Jump up^ http://johnhawks.net/weblog/reviews/life_history/aging_evolution/hill_2007_hiwi_mortality.html
  10. Jump up^ https://condensedscience.wordpress.com/2011/06/28/life-expectancy-in-hunter-gatherers-and-other-groups/

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