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Neo-Evolutionism with special emphasis on Steward and White

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Contents Background:1 Revivals:1 Julian Steward:3 Leslie White:4


Background:The "golden age" of social evolutionism had basically ended by the 1890s, and after that time a sharp reaction against evolutionary theories emerged. In anthropology this reaction was led by Franz Boas and his students and disciples and lasted into the 1940s and 1950s. The Boasian school objected to evolutionary theories on four basic counts: the use of an illegitimate methodological device, the Comparative Method; the development of rigid schemes of unilinear evolution in which all societies were assumed to progress in lockstep fashion through the same set of stages; inadequate recognition of the process of diffusion; and the illegitimate equation of evolution with progress (see Sanderson 1990). Nonetheless, by the 1930s the extreme historical particularism espoused by the Boasian school of anthropology began to be challenged, and an "evolutionary revival" was underway. Revivals:The first to lea…