How Hunter-Gatherers' Stories "Make Sense": Semantics and Adaptation

Essay Excerpt

The most important achievement of hunting-gathering cultures through hu­ man history has been effective internal communication. These cultures have been able reliably, if on a small scale, to motivate and inform individuals as to what they must do to make group life continue. They have found successful ways to make decisions, coordinate activities,and suppress conflict. With low population levels they have remained in balance within their environments, which they change very little in order to live. Western cultures are faced with the necessity of doing all these things on a much larger scale. Large populations and escalating exploitive capacity combine to threaten already stressed global resources. Yet understanding of what must be done either by individuals or groups is fragmented, action is piecemeal, and con­flict is endemic.

Western cultures are faced with the necessity of doing all these things on a much larger scale. Large populations and escalating exploitive capacity combine to threaten already stressed global resources. Yet understanding of what must be done either by individuals or groups is fragmented, action is piecemeal, and con­ flict is endemic.

Megan Biesele is Research Associate at The University of Texas, Austin.

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