What is multilinear evolution

Multilinear theory

A widespread reaction against sweeping generalizations about culture began in the United States in the late 19th century and somewhat later in Europe. Theories and descriptions of hypothetical stages of development in general and evolutionism have been said to have been heavily criticized as racist; Instead of assuming that some races were more developed than others, the new trend has been to view all cultures as unique in time and place. In the United States, this movement is known as Cultural Particularism was led by the German-born anthropologist Franz Boas.

Boaz and several generations of his students - including AL Kroeber, Ruth Benedict, and Margaret Mead - turned completely away from general generalizations about culture and focused on field research among traditional peoples, using a variety of facts and artifacts as empirical evidence of cultural processes existing societies gathered within themselves. The creation of encyclopedic lists of cultural features and their changes led to the development of "cultural histories" and dominated American anthropology in the first half of the 20th century. The cultural and historical movement has influenced anthropology in such a way that major theories of “man” have become far less common than in the past.

By the middle of the century, however, a number of American anthropologists, including Leslie A. White, Julian H. Steward, Marshall D. Sahlins, and Elman R. Service, had revived theoretical discussions about cultural change over time. They immediately rejected universal stages and instead conceived cultural evolution as "multilinear" - that is, as a process made up of a series of forward paths of different styles and lengths. They found that while specific evolutionary changes are not generally experienced in all cultures, human societies generally evolve or evolve. They further suggested that the main mechanism for such advances was technological breakthroughs that make societies more adaptable and dominant over the environment; the technology in this case was quite broad, encompassing developments such as improvements in tool shapes or materials (as in the transition through the Stone, Bronze and Iron Ages and later the industrial revolution), transport (like from pedestrian to rider) to motorized forms) and food production (from hunting to collecting to agriculture). Proponents of multilinear evolution are of the opinion that only in this sense can the entire world culture be viewed as the product of a unified process.