Adjustment Theory in the System of Contemporary Conceptualization of Human Response to the Global Climate Change in Prehistory Cover Image

Теорія Регулювання У Системі Сучасних Підходів До Реконструкції Відповіді Людини На Глобальні Зміни Клімату У Первісності
Adjustment Theory in the System of Contemporary Conceptualization of Human Response to the Global Climate Change in Prehistory

Author(s): Olena V. Smyntyna
Subject(s): Local History / Microhistory, Social history, Human Ecology, Environmental interactions
Published by: Видавництво «Одеський національний університет І. І. Мечникова»
Keywords: Human adaptation; Global climate change; Northwestern Black Sea region; Black Sea level change; adjustment;

Summary/Abstract: The purpose of the current contribution is to highlight perspectives in the application of adjustment theory in studies of human response to global climate changes at the Pleistocene-Holocene boundary in the Northwestern Pontic region. The roots of adjustment theory (which is sometimes also called ‘theory of regulation’) can be traced back as early as the 1960s, when it was put forward in sociology to describe a specific form of response by a society to environmental changes. At that time, adjustment was regarded as a certain opposition to the adaptation concept: in order to adjust, any transformation of behavior was not considered obligatory; survival of a society is possible as the result of a long chain of adjusting procedures which do not touch the inner essence of one’s society and/or culture. In the course of further discussion of this concept, it became possible to distinguish at least two basic versions of its understanding. In the framework of one of them, adjustment was interpreted as internal homeostatic changes taking place inside the society characterized by a certain adaptive level (Cohen 1974: 64). In such a way, adjustment was not possible without adaptation, which is its necessary prerequisite or preliminary stage. Proponents of another approach to this concept believe that adjustment involves dealing only with the correction of external stimuli, including the challenges of the natural environment. This correction envisages changes of mechanisms through which society realizes its relations with the environment. These changes usually are regarded as permanent processes and could be realized on their own, i.e., they are possible even when the society is not well adapted to its environment and is searching for optimal ways of survival. In such a context, adjustment could be interpreted either as a behavioral strategy, an alternative to adaptation, or as a peculiar phase of behavior that could be realized with equal success before or after adaptive procedures, but not instead of them. The recent decade of development in adjustment theory was marked by its broad application in psychology and other behavioral sciences for explanations as to how humans maintain equilibrium among their social, cultural, and biological needs, as well as how they balance all these needs with the challenges of their natural and social environment. The degree to which individual and environmental characteristics match the notion of person-environment fit was recently introduced. One should confess that changes connected with adjustment can hardly be traced in past cultures, especially on the basis of only archaeological and paleoenvironmental data, which are fragmentary on their own. Nevertheless, taking into account two basic characteristics of adjustment— modification (small-scale, non-transformative, nonrevolutionary) and personal (i.e., could be not shared by other group members in current and in the next generation)—it is possible to delineate at least one indicator of adjustment: individual variability of flint artifacts. However, these hypotheses cannot be fully verified on the basis of the existing evidence base from the Northwestern Pontic region, because we are dealing with only fossil remains of different societies, while adjustment implies conscious actions and behaviors, and this fact needs to be confirmed by the personal statement of the subject of such an action—oral (declared in the course of an interview) or written (reflected in written historical sources). Nevertheless, the discussion of the adjustment theory in the framework of huntergatherers adapting to global climate changes can provide new insight into their everyday life, which can help make the picture of their society more comprehensive, and our understanding of the humannature relationship more profound.

  • Issue Year: 2017
  • Issue No: 28
  • Page Range: 63-74
  • Page Count: 12
  • Language: Ukrainian