Human Ecology

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 265-281

First online:

Progressive contextualization: Methods for research in human ecology

  • Andrew P. VaydaAffiliated withDepartment of Human Ecology, Cook College, Rutgers University

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Theoretically or practically significant research results concerning transitory as well as persistent phenomena can be obtained by human ecologists while avoiding commitment to long-term, expensive projects, rigid frameworks, traditional disciplinary goals, and unwarranted assumptions about the stability and purposiveness of units or systems. The procedures to be followed, as illustrated by research on people-forest interactions in East Kalimantan, involve a focus on significant human activities or people-environment interactions and the explanation of these by their placement within progressively wider or denser contexts. Guides for progressively contextualizing activities or interactions include a rationality principle, comparative knowledge of contexts, and the principle of pursuing the surprising.

Key words

human ecology research methods systems analyses people-forest interactions flux stability Man and the Biosphere (MAB) program Kalimantan (Borneo)