Paper Example on Hunting and Gathering

Published: 2021-06-25
640 words
3 pages
6 min to read
Middlebury College
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In a bid to explain human culture, a primary focus has been laid on recent hunting and gathering societies. It is mainly due to the notion that knowledge of these communities might open a window that would help understand human cultures (Marlowe, 2005). As far as Sutton and Anderson (2014) are concerned, anthropologists classify cultures by subsistence strategy or the method through which they obtain their living. Therefore, hunters and gatherers comprise those cultures that make a life by collecting and consuming wild foods. All people practiced hunting and gathering at some point in time although the practice has changed with people resorting to other economic activities. Hunting and gathering have become a common term, and anthropologists have sought to have alternatives terms (Sutton & Anderson, 2014). Foraging is a term that has taken the place of hunting and gathering. It has largely been done to stop focusing more on the hunting aspect.

In the same vein, it is submitted that in the long course of human history, individuals lived by foraging for wild resources including plants and animals. As a matter of reason, it was not until years back that societies started cultivating and rearing plants and animals (Hitchcock & Megan, 2000). Production of food took over to such a level that in the past few years, the population that still hunts and gathers has declined rapidly. According to Sutton and Anderson (2014), there are two dimensions to the wild resources that are exploited by hunters and gatherers. One is a time which refers to when the resources are available and space which means the areas where they are located in the landscape.

There are different structures, forms, and adaptations that are associated with hunters and gatherers. Their villages may have thousands of inhabitants (Sutton & Anderson, 2014). Their social networks may cover an entire continent. Their cultural values could be complicated just like those of state-level societies. Most important is their varied ecological adjustments. The nonagricultural individuals always rely on the same kind of staples used by agriculturalists including fruit, fish, and seeds. They also consume this in the same basic proportions. There are generalizations presented by Sutton and Anderson (2014) concerning hunting and gathering and include: the fact that: they under-produce; share food; appear to be egalitarian and use a division of labor where men participate in hunting as the women focus on gathering.

In summary, it is important to understand what people can learn about their distant ancestors by examining some of the most renowned hunting and gathering societies (Kelly, 1995). So as to draw reliable inferences, it would be important to believe that segments of human society could remain the same over the years (Fitzhugh, 2003). In other words, it implies that hunters and gatherers never learned from experience. Moreover, they neither innovated nor adapted to changes within their environments.

A major lesson from this book is that people and cultures have to deal with environmental issues. However, response to such matters varies from one part of the world. There have been questions on how and the reasons for these variations especially when it comes to hunters and gatherers. The main lesson is that by understanding the conditions that determine variation and using the historical records to arrive at informed guesses regarding past conditions within a particular area, people have a better chance of understanding the lives of the former hunters and gatherers.


Fitzhugh, B. (2003). The evolution of complex hunter-gatherers: Interdisciplinary

contributions to archaeology. New York, NY: Kluwer Academic/Plenun Publishers

Hitchcock, R & Megan, B. (2000). Introduction, in hunters and gatherers in the modern world:

Conflict, resistance, and self-determinations, 110. New York, NY: Berghahn Books

Kelly, R. (1995). The foraging spectrum. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press

Marlowe, W. (2005). Hunter-gatherers and human evolution. Evolutionary Anthropology: Issues,

News, and Reviews 14 (2): 5667

Sutton, M & Anderson, E. (2014). Hunting and gathering, in introduction to cultural ecology,

Chapter 5:151-194. Lanham, Maryland: Altamira Press, Rowman and Littlefield

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