In order to examine the evolutionary approaches of Leslie White and Julian Steward, we must therefore discuss about what the theory of neo-evolutionism is. Neo-evolutionism is a nomothetic theory which is based on using the general principles of evolution to explain how cultures change through time. This theory is a “reformation” of the late nineteenth century evolutionary theory of cultural evolution. (...
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...0’s, Marshall Sahlins and Elman Service who were both students and colleagues of Leslie White and Julian Steward, wanted to find a resolution over this debate between unilineal evolution and multilinear evolution. Sahlins and Service concluded that cultural evolution can be seen as two different dimensions known as specific evolution and general evolution. (Erickson 1998:119) Specific evolution refers to the particular sequence of change and adaptation of a particular society in a given environment. (Ember 2011:23) This evolutionary model is best represented by the ideas and concepts of Julian Steward. General evolution refers to the general progress of human society, in which “complex” cultures evolve from “simple” cultures due to their technological advancements. (Ember 2011:23) This evolutionary model is best represented by the ideas and concepts of Leslie White.
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