Underlying the anthropological study of man is the principle that there is a reality to which man must adapt if he is to survive. Reproduce, and to perpetuate himself. Populations must adapt to the realities of the physical world and maintain a proper "fit" between their biological makeup and the pressures of the various niches of the world in which they seek to live. Social groups—where culture is found—must develop adaptive mechanisms in the organization of their social relations if there is to be order, regularity, and predictability in patterns of cooperation and competition and if they are to survive as viable units. This three-volume set of readings presents an introduction to anthropology that is unified and made systematic by focus on adaptations that have accompanied the evolution of man, from non-human primate to inhabitant of vast urban areas in modern industrial societies.
Man in Adaptation: The Cultural Present introduces Cultural Anthropoloty also from the point of view of adaptation and provides coherence for the study of human societies from man's social beginnings to the present. The book deals sequentially with the more and more complex technologies and political and social structures that have enabled different societies to make effective use of the energy potentials in their habitats.
This and the two companion volumes are the first attempt to unify the disparate subject matter of anthropology within a single and powerful explanatory framework. They incorporate the work of the most renowned anthropological experts on man, and they illuminate clearly one of the most important concepts around which one can build an investigation of the nature and scope of anthropology itself. For these reasons, they are recognized as indispensable reading for every professional anthropologist and as perhaps the best available means of introducing new students to the field.