Volltext: Zeitschrift für Ethnologie der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Völkerkunde und der Berliner Gesellschaft für Anthropologie, Ethnologie und Urgeschichte, 115.1990

    
    
Rafael Wittek: Resource competition and violent conflict 
The model. The postulated relationships can be integrated into a three-variable 
model, which is graphically represented in Figure 1. In the following two sections, I 
will first discuss two socio-ecological models of scarcity, and then discuss their role 
within a multivariate, socio-ecological explanation of violent conflict. 
Socio-ecological models of scarcity 
The basic distinction to be drawn is that between partial and total scarcity. Partial 
Scarcity occurs in societies practicing restrictive modes of distribution. The result is, 
that not all members will be equally affected by a shortage, and some succeed in secur- 
ing a larger part of the remaining goods than the rest. On the other hand, total scarcity 
is a trait of societies with flexible modes of resource distribution.? In the face of a short- 
age, these societies share the remaining goods in a way that scarcity will be evenly dis- 
tributed among all members of the social system. Shared poverty is a more common 
term for this situation (Browning 1970: 80). Networks of reciprocity or redistribution 
(Brookfield 1970: 148; Jochim 1981: 191) may be means to establish it and often pro- 
vide a very effective “life insurance” (Durham 1976: 392f.; Lomnitz 1977) until the si- 
tuation gets better again. 
Thus, this socio-ecological perspective on scarcity makes explicit what can be 
called the “distribution of scarcity”. It contains as least two dimensions: changing 
demographical or environmental factors on the one hand, and societal mechanisms re- 
gulating the distribution of the diminished supply of goods on the other. With the va- 
rlables at hand for the present study, two such models can be constructed. 
In relating population density to social stratification, a causal mechanism may be 
derived which Durham (1977) has termed the *Combination Model". In this model, 
Partial scarcity is regarded to be a product both of rising population density and un- 
equal distribution of resources. The reasoning behind it is a social system within which 
à high per capita resource availability can be maintained only by a few individuals or 
groups. With total resource availability remaining constant, population growth will 
Produce resource scarcity for the poorer members of the social system. 
The second model results in combining ecological (density-independent) forms of 
SCarcity and social stratification, and will be referred to as “Combination Model II”. 
ere, food stress will lead to partial scarcity in stratified societies, while unstratified 
Ones will exhibit total scarcity. 
ip dM MUN GNE 
5 
The distinction between distributional flexibility and restriction has been developed by Brookfield (1970). 
 
        

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