chapter  2
18 Pages

Culture, Ecology, and Social Policy

ByJohn W. Bennett

At the heart of any attempt to deal with human ecology from the standpoint of social policy lies the question of whether society itself becomes an "environment" comparable to the natural environment. The equation is obvious in the contemporary ecological movement, where despoliation of the "human environment" becomes as critical an issue as pollution of the physical environment and resource exhaustion. Cultural anthropology has produced research with degree of social relevance for the simple reason that such research has concerned the needs and problems of a particular class of humanity: tribal and peasant peoples. A commitment to policy orientation in scientific endeavor of any kind requires an important qualification: while one can commit a scientific investigation to some relevant social objective, the conduct of the research itself must be guided by methodological rigor, a respect for factual data, and other factors indigenous to science.