Studying Technological Change

A Behavioral Approach

Studying Technological Change synthesizes nearly four decades of research by Michael Brian Schiffer, a cofounder of the field of behavioral archaeology. This new book asks historical and scientific questions about the interaction of people with artifacts during all times and in all places. The book is not about the history or prehistory of technology, nor is it a catalog of methods and techniques for inferring how specific technologies were made or used. Rather, it supplies conceptual tools that can be used to help craft an explanation of any technological change in any society.

The behavioral approach leads to new questions, creative research employing diverse lines of evidence, and, often, counterintuitive explanations. In behavioral archaeology, one never loses sight of the materiality of human behavior. Needless to say, advocates of other research approaches will find much in this book to dispute. But critics cannot gainsay the productivity of the behavioral approach nor the fact that it has furnished fresh insights into episodes of technological change.

Michael Brian Schiffer is the Fred A. Riecker Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and director of the Laboratory of Traditional Technology at the University of Arizona.

Table of Contents:

List of Figures
List of Tables

Part 1
1. Introduction                                                                                                           
2. Building a “Crap Detector”                                                                                   
3. A Conceptual Scheme                                                                                           
4. Social Needs and Technological Change                                                               
Part 2                                                                                                                          
5. Some Basic Invention Processes                                                                            
6. Technology-Stimulated Invention                                                                         
7. Development and Resource Acquisition                                                               
8. Development and the Design Process                                                                   
9. Manufacture                                                                                                           
10. Adoption                                                                                                              
Part 3                                                                                                                          
11. Large-Scale Processes of Aggregate Technologies                                              
12. Reflections                                                                                                           
References Cited                                                                                                       

Praise and Reviews:

“In clear and concise prose, Schiffer lays out a framework that can be applied by archaeologists but also will be relevant to anyone with an interest in the interaction between humans and their material culture. Archaeologists and historians of technology will need to have it on their bookshelf.”—James M. Skibo, Illinois State University