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Cultural Materialism: The Struggle for a Science of Culture

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  129 ratings  ·  6 reviews
Cultural Materialism, published in 1979, was Marvin Harris's first full-length explication of the theory with which his work has been associated. While Harris has developed and modified some of his ideas over the past two decades, generations of professors have looked to this volume as the essential starting point for explaining the science of culture to students. Now avai ...more
Hardcover, 381 pages
Published June 1st 1979 by Random House (NY) (first published 1979)
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Chuck
Apr 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
I never fail to meet a conservation practicioner who has not reported what an eye-openner it was to read Jared Diamond's book Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies. Diamond has popularized a whole area of Anthropology that has a long research tradition going back to at least Julian Steward in the 1950s. It is unfortunate that very few conservation minded folks are aware, much less well versed, in the cultural materialist research strategy. A large portion of Diamond's notions had ...more
Alex Lee
While I was trained in cultural materialism in my undergraduate years, decades ago, I have never read a text that was explicitly arguing for this approach over others despite my being introduced to a variety of other approaches.

Years later, I read this text. It's pretty thorough in that Harris basically runs through a kind of shopping list of any particular approach which might be able to explain culture.

The thing is, while the text is pretty detailed, Harris basically argues that his approach,
...more
Jacob
Dec 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent, clear introduction, summary and defense of etic infrastructural research strategies.
Jluisr
Jan 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: antropologia, cultura
Como todas las obras de Harris, muy entretenidas, sorprendentes, cautivadoras, pero en muchas ocasiones con teorías muy discutibles que sólo él (o su escuela) parece sostener.
Joanne Payton
Jan 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Harris is enjoyably pugnacious when it comes to discussing his rivals. His section on Levi-Strauss had me laughing out loud.
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American anthropologist Marvin Harris was born in Brooklyn, New York. A prolific writer, he was highly influential in the development of cultural materialism. In his work he combined Karl Marx's emphasis on the forces of production with Malthus's insights on the impact of demographic factors on other parts of the sociocultural system. Labeling demographic and production factors as infrastructure, ...more

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