Optimization Theories of the Transition from Foraging to Agriculture: A Critical Assessment and Proposed Alternatives

Abstract : This article examines how well two parallel behavioral approaches , one in economics and the other in anthropology, explain the economic evolution of Neolithic societies, particularly their transit from foraging to agriculture. Both assume rational optimizing behavior. It is argued that satisficing theories provide a superior explanation of transition (and non-transition) by some hunter-gatherers. Furthermore, many of the concepts associated with neo-classical economics are shown to be inadequate for analyzing the choice problems involved. Moreover, it is argued that all be-havioral theories considering the relationship between human behavior and economic evolution need to pay attention to the way that decision-making is embedded in social structures. It is unlikely that a single theory will be able to explain the economic evolution of all societies when social structures and other relevant variables differ between communities.
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Clement Allan Tisdell, Serge Svizzero. Optimization Theories of the Transition from Foraging to Agriculture: A Critical Assessment and Proposed Alternatives. Social evolution & history, Uchitel Publishing House, 2017, 16 (1), pp.3-30. ⟨hal-02145490⟩

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