hunter-gatherer

hunter-gatherer, hunting and gathering societies
A mode of subsistence dependent on the exploitation of wild or non-domesticated food resources. This has been the means of subsistence for 99 per cent of humankind's history, and involves the hunting of animals, fishing, and the gathering of wild fruit, plants, honey, and insects. Many hunting and gathering societies comprised small nomadic bands, although others have shown greater social organization. The few surviving contemporary groups cannot be seen as offering a window on the past since they have their own history. For example, some have been pushed into marginal environments by invading groups and policies of ethnocide, while others were formerly agriculturalists.
Hunting and gathering groups are often organized about a division of labour by sex, with hunting done mainly by men, and gathering done by women. While meat is usually a source of prestige, gathering produces the indispensable food, thus suggesting that members might be more accurately labelled gatherer-hunters.
The popular image of early hunting and gathering groups struggling for survival, to the detriment of all other concerns, is a myth. There is no relation between a society's technology and the complexity of its intellectual and creative pursuits: many of these groups had a rich religious and artistic life. Indeed, Marshall Sahlins has suggested they were the ‘original affluent society’ (inStone Age Economics, 1972), since they only needed to devote a few hours each day to subsistence activities in order to satisfy their limited material wants, thus leaving considerable periods of leisure.

Dictionary of sociology. 2013.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • hunter-gatherer — n a member of group of people that lives by hunting and looking for plants that can be eaten, rather than by keeping animals for food or by growing crops …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • hunter-gatherer — [hunt′ərgath′ər ər] n. Anthrop. a member of a culture that supplies its food by hunting game and gathering berries, roots, etc. rather than by raising crops or livestock …   English World dictionary

  • Hunter-gatherer — A hunter gatherer society is one whose primary subsistence method involves the direct procurement of edible plants and animals from the wild, foraging and hunting without significant recourse to the domestication of either. Hunter gatherers… …   Wikipedia

  • hunter-gatherer — UK / US noun [countable] Word forms hunter gatherer : singular hunter gatherer plural hunter gatherers one of a group of people who live by killing wild animals and finding food and do not keep any animals or grow any crops …   English dictionary

  • hunter-gatherer — hunter gatherers N COUNT Hunter gatherers were people who lived by hunting and collecting food rather than by farming. There are still groups of hunter gatherers living in some parts of the world …   English dictionary

  • hunter-gatherer — noun Date: 1974 a member of a culture in which food is obtained by hunting, fishing, and foraging rather than by agriculture or animal husbandry …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • hunter-gatherer — /hun teuhr gadh euhr euhr/, n. Anthropol. a member of a group of people who subsist by hunting, fishing, or foraging in the wild. * * * …   Universalium

  • hunter-gatherer — noun A member of a group of people who live by hunting animals and gathering edible plants for their main food sources, and who do not keep animals or farm land …   Wiktionary

  • hunter-gatherer — hunt|er gath|er|er [ ,hʌntər gæðərər ] noun count one of a group of people who live by killing wild animals and finding food and do not keep any animals or grow any crops …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • hunter-gatherer — noun a member of a nomadic people who live chiefly by hunting and fishing, and harvesting wild food …   English new terms dictionary

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