chapter  9
41 Pages

Adaptation as Social Process

ByJohn W. Bennett

This chapter consists of a preliminary discussion of adaptation in the social context, with particular emphasis on its implications for ecological study. When we move from adaptation as a form of human behavior to adaptation as a process in social groups and populations, we also shift criteria of what is "adaptive" from the individual and his need-satisfactions, to the group and its welfare or survival. Strategic action takes place in a temporal continuum, and particular strategies also will be based on cultural or situational conceptions of the time factor. In some behavioral-science terminologies, strategies with immediate payoff have been called "adjustments", and the delayed-effect strategies—"adaptations". And so we come to the payoff issue: the standards required for policy-oriented cultural-ecological research. The question involves the normative meaning of "adaptation"; more specifically, the distinction between adaptation as a desired process and maladaptation as an undesirable consequence.