Cultural Materialism: A Conceptual Analysis
1. Marvin Harris’ Cultural Materialism Concept
Marvin Harris’ cultural materialism concept is an attempt to explain how people and societies live together amidst strikingly different ideologies. The concept is based on the idea that all human social relations are determined by the material conditions of life. This means that the primary concern of any society is to ensure the survival and reproduction of its members. In order to do this, societies must make sure that they have control over the production and distribution of resources.
The concept of cultural materialism has been used to explain a wide range of phenomena, from the Pueblo Rebellion to the Russian Revolution. It has also been used to understand why some societies are more successful than others in terms of economic development. However, the concept has also been criticized for its reductionist approach and for its failure to take into account the role of ideas in social change.
2. Theoretical Background
2.1 Judas of Galilee
The first recorded use of the term “cultural materialism” was by Judas of Galilee, a Jewish rebel leader who lived in the first century CE. Judas was born into a family of wealthy landowners and received a good education. He became a fervent believer in the revolutionary teachings of Jesus and led a political expedition against the Romans, which ended in disaster. Judas and his followers were killed by the Roman authorities.
2. 2 Jesus
Jesus was a Jewish preacher who lived in the first century CE. His teachings were based on the belief that God would bring about a kingdom of righteousness on earth. Jesus was arrested by the Roman authorities and executed by crucifixion. His followers believed that he had risen from the dead and would return to rule over his kingdom.
2. 3 Constantine
Constantine was a Roman Emperor who ruled from 306-337 CE. He was responsible for legalizing Christianity in the Roman Empire and making it the official religion of the state. Constantine also sanctioned the construction of churches and other Christian buildings across his empire. He did this in order to gain favor with God and secure victory in battle against his enemies.
3. Application of the Concept
3.1 The Pueblo Rebellion
The Pueblo Rebellion was an uprising of Native Americans against the Spanish colonial authorities in New Mexico in 1680. The Pueblo people were unhappy with the high taxes that they were required to pay and the restrictions that were placed on their religious beliefs. They also resented the presence of Spanish soldiers in their villages. In August of 1680, the Pueblo people rose up and killed more than 400 Spanish soldiers and colonists. They also destroyed a number of churches and other Christian buildings. The rebellion was eventually crushed by the Spanish authorities, but it showed that the Pueblo people were willing to fight for their freedom.
3. 2 The Peasants’ Revolt
The Peasants’ Revolt was an uprising of English peasants against the ruling class in 1381. The peasants were angry about the high taxes that they were required to pay and the restrictions that were placed on their freedoms. They also resented the fact that they were not able to own land or have a say in how their communities were governed. In June of 1381, the peasants rose up and sacked the city of London. They also killed a number of wealthy landowners and government officials. The revolt was eventually put down by the army, but it showed that the peasants were willing to fight for their rights.
3. 3 The Russian Revolution
The Russian Revolution was an uprising of the people against the Tsarist regime in Russia in 1917. The people were unhappy with the high taxes that they were required to pay, the restrictions that were placed on their freedoms, and the corruption of the government. In March of 1917, the people rose up and overthrew the Tsarist regime. They also established a new government, called the Soviet Union, which lasted until 1991. The Russian Revolution showed that the people were willing to fight for their rights and freedoms.
4. Criticism of the Concept
The concept of cultural materialism has been criticized for its reductionist approach and for its failure to take into account the role of ideas in social change. Critics argue that Harris’s concept fails to explain why some societies are more successful than others in terms of economic development. Moreover, Harris’s concept does not take into account the role of religion or other ideologies in shaping social relations.
The concept of cultural materialism is a useful tool for understanding how people and societies interact with each other. However, the concept has also been criticized for its reductionist approach and for its failure to take into account the role of ideas in social change.