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Content as Variability, Result as Selection: Toward a Behavioral Definition of Technology

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Abstract

Technology has long been of interest to anthropologists but anthropological study of the topic has lagged behind consideration of other human institutions. In part this is because technology has remained poorly understood and incompletely defined and because technology's material and non-material components have been either confused or treated in isolation. To clarify the relationship between its material and non-material aspects, this paper defines the contents and results of technology in behavioral terms. Material results are an intrinsic part of technology that offer immediate, clear feedback. For that reason, technological behaviors are easy to evaluate and adjust. This makes technology especially subject to selective pressure and evolutionary change.

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