Ecological and evolutionary models are compared within the context of the Hutterite case. An evolutionary approach, utilizing an historical perspective and higher level analytical concepts, is found to (1) allow a more concrete and convincing explanation, (2) better relate the case to the social field within which it is found, and (3) provide a more fruitful basis for prediction and future research. The depiction of evolutionary theory as “vague” (Harris, Helm), or as not applicable to the analysis of single cases (Sahlins and Service), is found to be based on a faulty philosophy of science. The ecological model proposed by Vayda and Rappaport is briefly contrasted with the evolutionary approach employed in this paper, and the difficulties to be faced in effecting a synthesis are discussed.
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