By Richard E. Blanton
The writer offers a wide comparative database derived from ethnographic and architectural examine in Southeast Asia, Egypt, Mesoamerica, and different parts; proposes new methodologies for comparative analyses of homes; and significantly examines latest methodologies, theories, and information. His paintings expands on and systematizes comparative and cross-cultural techniques to the examine of families and their environments to supply a company beginning for this rising line of study.
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Extra info for Houses and Households: A Comparative Study
I hope the method I develop here can be expanded eventually to account for the complicating factors found in urban settings, but I do not attempt that in this report. Of course, it is difficult to draw a precise line between what I would define as a rural village on the one hand, and a small town on the other, because villages may have a few "urban" (central-place) functions, such as a local market or shops, and these perhaps influence A COMPARATNE METHOD 41 land value to a small degree. " 5. I selected cases with an eye toward capturing the variation in rural community life and houses within each region.
For both the community ethnographies and house descriptions, sources are of high quality and recognized as such in their respective anthropological and architectural literatures. The community ethnographic sources are all written by professional anthropologists who spent sufficient time in the communities they studied to enable them to write wide-ranging general ethnographic accounts, although, given the large number of variables for which I was coding, there are missing data in some cases. A prime criterion for the ethnographic accounts was that they include detailed information on houses and house-life, including, ideally, floor plans, facade illustrations, descriptions of room functions, descriptions of house symbolism, and building materials, among other features (in a few cases I had to settle for textual descriptions of houses in reports lacking suitable illustrations).
Another related view of complexity has to do with vertical complexity, and is measured as the number of hierarchical levels. Viewed from the back-to-front perspective used in this study, the number of hierarchical levels is related to the degree of separation of frontoriented, "public" and back-oriented, "private" spaces of the dwelling, as well as the degree of differentiation within front and back regions. To measure hierarchical depth, the graph representing the structure is A COMPARATIVE METHOD 37 organized to show the relative position of each node in the hierarchy of nodes, from the front of the structure to the back, where each additional step from the front toward the back is counted as one hierarchical level.