Ecological theory and ethnic differentiation among human population
How relevant is ecological theory to explain human ethnic differentiation plant and animal ecologists have employed it. William Abruzzi attempts to do it (Arbuzzi 1982 current anthropology vol. 2.3 P13) Arbuzzi first premises in that ecology is not necessarily a biological science, rather ecological systems have been modelled as energy flow system determined by the their odynamic principal (Margaloff 1968 Odum 1971 pp37-85) Because ecological principles areindependent of the specific biological communities and they have structural similarities that suggest the value of their being analysed from an unified ecological perspective.
The fundamental units of human and non human communities alike are variables in size and comparison and respond to special and temporal variation in abundance and distribution of resources. , Finally both human and non human transform potential energy into social organisation, and the process that generate The division of labour (resources partioning) appears to be important to the organisation of human committees on they are to the evolution of non human systems. Abruzzin tries to saw the formation and maintenance of ethnic boundaries may be one area of social behaviour that could benefit for explicit application of ecological theory. The traditional authropological use of ethnic unit concepts resulted in naive oversimplification and is derived from a historical approach. Traditional approaches based upon a static conception of discrete ethnic groups proved incapable of dealing with the dynamics of new concerns.
A more faithfull recent approach to the question of ethnic boundary formation have been those that employed ecological or material focus and have concentrated upon competition over scares resources in conjunction with the application of labour required for efficient resources exploitation. Ethnic groups are not different species. Species are genetic units connected by ability to exchange hereditary material, while ethnic groups are social units with much lesser degree of biological integrity or meaning. The decisive criterion is not fertility of the individuals but reproductive isolation of a propulaiton , Defining species boundaries is by no means clear, fertility is not a criterion of a species status among local population Population biologist and ecologist have directly concerned themselves with mechanisms and processes producting changes in species boundaries among the local population and with the relation with speciation and species replacement have to the evolution of encompassing ecological committees. An ethnic unit is difficult to define.
A cultunit defined by Norot is interms of language, ecological adjustment and loclal community structure. It is difficult to use socio-cultural traits to define ethnicboundaries Problems associated with ethnic unit boundaries arise from the contradiction of imposing a static classificatory scheme no matter how necessary upon inherently variable, evolutionary phenomenal. Ethnic units in this specific committees, like local speries population are prevailing ecological condition. The discreteness of species and ethnic units alike, appear greater the more complex and broadly adapted members of each class, perhaps became of greater breadth of their respective niches and the evolutionary exclusion of class competition that this involves. Marriage assumes central importance in the definition and analysis of an ethnic population.
The extent of endogamy indicates the degree of ethno differentiation within the community. Definition of an ethnic population serve principally to distinguish that unit from other less developing social groups. This suggest that the organisation of an ethic population is more complex and encompassing than that of other social units. Neither clear species nor ethnic distinction is accepted by Aleruzzi. Rather, he says the discreteness of species and ethnic population alike must be recognized as determined buy the local ecological conditions and then variable from one community to another and commonly within the same commonly through time, since both species and ethnic boundaries function to regulate competing populations access to resources, the recognition that in one care the proximate cause (mechanism) of behaviour may be largely inherited while in the other they may be primarily learned should not preclude the possibility that the ultimate causes (selective pressures) in both cases may be the same. Anbuzzi explain the implication of selection theory for the farmation of ethnic population. In certain human communities it may be energetically cheaper for distinct population to exploit limited and non-overlapping sets of resources, with each population trading its surplus to neighbouring populations centred in different niches, than one undifferentiated population to exploit the total range of available resources.
The distinct requirement imposed for successful exploitation for instance of a herding or a hunting (nomadic) niche contrasts sharply with those needed to occupy a farming niche. The survival of gazing animal demands the animals be mobile in their search for pastimes. Human population that exploit there animals hunt like-wise be mobile. Farmers on the other hand, must remain stationary to tend their land and crops. Each adaptation demands a repertoire of supportive behaviour. An energetic advantage thus clearly exists, under certain conditions, for distinct populations concentrated in each of these two niches, rathy than one uniform population exploiting both plant and animal resources. The demand of extensive trade within pre-industrial communities are effectively overcome by the concentration of trade in one distinct population. Again for instance population agriculture involved the use of large amounts of land for the purpose of raising labour intensive cash crops. Since the demand for unskilled labour limits its annual productive value, the labour in plantation system has historically been obtained primarily through solvey, immigration, or employment of migrant workers. There three context are examples in anthropological literature of the evolution of distince adaptations among pontentially competing population.
They also furnish.instances of pronounced ethnic distinctions within the human communities. Over competition, while not absent has been reduced through the development of more or less symbolic relations, imposed in past by the greater power of the dominant population, and through the institution of complex regulations regarding ethnic interactions, particularly intermarriage. Inequility exists in such relationships however, constant with comparative energy flows in other ecological communities ethnic interaction with human communities are asymmetrical and function to maintain, even increase, the differential organisation and control that exists. Abruzzi goes on to argue niche diversification through competitive exclusion may result in human population achieving an equilibrium in which they exchange the products of their differentiated niches. The potential for developing symbiotic relationships is perhaps more charactestics of human competitors than of most other population. This is illustrated by consistent development of interdependence between contiguous nomadic are sendentary population throughout much of Africa and the Middle East.
As with non-human population, however competition among human population’s is potentially variable. In so much as endogamy maintains local ethnic distinction, selection would specifically favour those mechanisms that reduced the incidence of inter marriage among the ethnic populations in communities where ethnic specialisation occurs. Although the specific cluster of isolating mechanisms varies from one human community to another, understandable ecological conditions the number of independent isolating mechanisms separating two or more local ethnic population should increase with time. Reproductive isolation underlies the recurring pattern of ethnic relations associated with the expanding pioneer populations. Initial flexible interactive evolve into more rigid stereotype exchanges on the number of immigrants increase and the competition over resources intensifies Anglo-American relations in the American wert is said to provide an example of this pattern. The formation and maintenance of distinct ethnic population is viewed as function of niche diversification at the community level.
The selective advantage of clear ethnic, boundaries, evolves primarily from the demands imposed upon labour. Labour demands inturn are viewed by Abrazzi as a function of the specific pattern and intensity of resources exploitation imported upon the local communities, for example by the population or colonial domination. Where the 0& demands of a specific productive system places a selective premiums upon discrete populations, the efficiency of human information processing and group co-ordination are increased by the existence of clear and unambiguous boundaries separating these populations. Clear ethnic boundaries are said to function to improve productive efficiency by reducing the likelihood of competition between members of interacting population within the community. Since the organisation of population within any ecological community is a function of the availability and distribution of resources, break down in the barriers to marriage betweencthnic population results from a change in the conditions of resource exploitation to a situation favouring a different community organization, perhaps even one uniform population. The emergence decline, and transformation of socially significant ethnic units have been ubiquitous and may be seen as adaptive responses to the change of material demand imposed at the community level.