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The Darker Side of the "Original Affluent Society"

David Kaplan
Journal of Anthropological Research
Vol. 56, No. 3 (Autumn, 2000), pp. 301-324
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3631086
Page Count: 24
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
The Darker Side of the "Original Affluent Society"
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Abstract

Hunter-gatherers emerged from the "Man the Hunter" conference in 1966 as the "original affluent society." The main features of this thesis now seem to be widely accepted by anthropologists, despite the strong reservations expressed by certain specialists in foraging societies concerning the data advanced to support the claim. This essay brings together a portion of the data and argumentation in the literature that raise a number of questions about hunter-gatherer affluence. Three topics are addressed: How "hard" do foragers work? How well-fed are members of foraging societies? And what do we mean by "work," "leisure," and "affluence" in the context of foraging societies? Finally, this essay offers some thoughts about why, given the reservations and critical observations expressed by anthropologists who work with foragers, the thesis seems to have been enthusiastically embraced by most anthropologists.

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