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ANTH 2170 Midterm: Fall Term Exam Review ANTH 2170

Course Code
ANTH 2170
Maggie Mac Donald
Study Guide

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Test Review for ANTH 2170
Louis Henry Morgan
oAmerican anthropologist who proposed the theory of social evolutionism in the late 1800s
oSocial Evolutionism – evolutionary model used to explain all aspects of human social
organization (how society functions) – (Mascia-Lees & Black – Gender and
oProblem with this theory was its implication of Western superiority (ex. other societies
were used as examples of West’s “primitive past”
oLooking across an expanded span of human existence, Morgan presented three major
stages: savagery, barbarism & civilization
oSocial evolutionists argued that societies had evolved from the simple to complex, chaotic
to organized and homogeneous to heterogeneous – immersed in beliefs of desirability for
progress therefore societies that were less advanced were seen as inferior
oThis model also implied the conception of women devoting their time and energy to being
good mothers – exclusion of women in the public sphere because “scientific claims” made
said they lacked vital energy
oMatrilineal (inheriting descent through mother) societies were viewed as weak because of
lack of male dominance
oTherefore women’s “biological necessities” rendered them physically and intellectually
oConcept found in Mascia-Lees and Black’s text
oIs a field of scientific study which is based on the assumption that social behaviour has
resulted from evolution and attempts to explain and examine social behaviour within that
oSocial behaviour is biologically determinable

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Sociobiology & Selfish Genes
oInstead of understanding human reproductive strategies as ones that has benefited the
species of homosapiens as a whole, sociobiologists see male-female sexual relations as a
contest between men and women
oDiscusses battle of sexes to ensure genes be passed down
oMales are described as being “genetically programmed” for hyper-sexuality (to pass on
oWomen are considered chaste once pregnant; more frequent relations will not increase her
chance of passion on her genes since she can only get pregnant once at a time
oWomen are discussed as benefitting from male help but must develop strategies to keep
him around so he won’t spread his genes (playing hard to get)
Critique of Sociobiology
oSelfish gene model is closely related to contemporary societies conception of the male
“double standard” in which males are not labeled as being a slut, whore, etc. for their
oExistence of societies that have males that have more sex than females does not prove
male’s “naturalness” of an intense sex drive and passive female one
oSame as social evolutionists, sociobiologists today use themselves and the behaviours
found in their societies as universal reference point
oThe attribution of human characteristics or behaviours to a god, animal or object
oDiscussed in Lancaster’s text
oExamples from the animal kingdoms become pivotal to credibility of analysis and to
its status as “science”
oHowever it is difficult to compare human behaviour to that of animals because of
commensurability (ability to communicate) – basing gender distinctions on animal
behaviour is thus flawed
oEx. of comparing the aggressiveness of animals to human violence; animal reproduction
to human courtship; primate dominance hierarchies and social stratification

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oIssue at hand is that only specific animals are being compared to humans – (ex. not
compared to bisexual bonobo chimpanzees)
oSelective Associations: sounds like its giving empirical data when it is not
oSociobiologists often emphasize ideas of heterosexual pairing, nuclear family, patriarchal
form & social inequality by using backup stereotypical ape “female” & “male” behaviour
oMore info below
“Our Animal Selves”
oTitle of the chapter from Lancaster’s book The Trouble with Nature, Sex in Science and
Popular Culture
oWhat does it mean to be a man or woman (what defines sex)? – there is no empirical
evidence of these divisions, they are based on different ideologies
oHe discusses how sociobiologists oftentimes compare the behaviours of animals to those
of humans in order to justify the distinctions made between males and females (ex. bees –
social hierarchy)
oBecause animal behaviours are depicted as fitting into the “norm” of what society
believes to be the distinction between males and females, these distinctions are viewed as
oRealistically we cannot compare actions of animals to those of humans because of
commensurability (human’s ability to communicate)
oSelective Associations – seems to be providing empirical data on the subject when it is
Man the Hunter
oLocated in Mascia-Lees & Black’s text Gender and Anthropology
oWashburn and Lancaster came up with the concept of man the hunter as the model of
human evolution
oAspects of social life were intertwined with the success of hunting adaptation
oAbility to have hands free due to bipedalism allowed change in cultural and social
oLanguage arose from this (increase in brain size due to tool making for hunting)
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