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neoevolutionism

school of anthropology concerned with long-term culture change and with the similar patterns of development that may be seen in unrelated, widely separated cultures. It arose in the mid-20th century, and it addresses the relation between the long-term changes that are characteristic of human culture in general and the short-term, localized social and ecological adjustments that cause specific cultures to differ from one another as they adapt to their own unique environments. Further, neoevolutionists investigate the ways in which different cultures adapt to similar environments and examine the similarities and differences in the long-term historical trajectories of such groups. Because most neoevolutionists are interested in the environmental and technological adjustments of the groups they study, many are identified with the cultural ecological approach to ethnography, with the culture process approach to archaeology, and with the study of early and protohumans in biological anthropology.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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