General principles of the structure and functioning of the life support systems of traditional societies

Sataev R.Ì. (Moscow, Russian Federation)


                  page 126–134


The article discusses general theoretical issues related to features of the structure and functioning of traditional life support systems. A life support system is understood as a set of interrelated natural and social factors (through satisfaction of material and non-material needs), which determine the nature of the existence of human communities on a certain territory. The overall structure of the systems includes natural, material, cultural and social units. Degree of dependence of life-support systems on particular environmental conditions is suggested as a criteria for their assessment. Due to the existing natural zonality, these systems can have «zonal» or «azonal» character. «Zonal» systems are actualized in strict dependence on climatic conditions and resources inherent to a definite natural area, and the «azonal» ones are formed independently of them. «Zonal» systems are aimed at achieving the best adaptation to the natural and resource conditions in the area of residence of the society, but are highly specialized and closed for innovation. «Azonal» systems are more open, they include universal elements, which allow them to be actualized in different natural areas, but at the same time they are less adapted to specific natural conditions. Thus, the «zonal» systems evolve towards strengthening the connection-dependence of human groups with the environment, and «azonal» — towards autonomy from them. Therefore, it can be said that there are two development strategies of life support systems. It is suggested to distinguish two main phases in the development of the systems: «productive» and «reproductive». The definition of phases is based mainly on the predominance of the process of innovation or stereotyping in the system functioning (at a certain time interval). Throughout the life cycle, the formation of a structure and nature of the functioning of life support systems take place, the optimal ways of meeting needs of the society for resources in certain natural and climatic conditions are mastered and selected. In the reproductive phase, there are, mainly, consolidation and development of forms, methods and manners of the activity inherited from the previous generations. The concepts of «fluctuations», «trend» and «transformation» are used to assess the nature and extent of the current changes taking place in the system.


Key words: life-support system of traditional human societies, zonal and azonal systems, productive and reproductive phases of development.


DOI: 10.20874/2071-0437-2017-39-4-126-134




R.Ì. Sataev

Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology RAS, Leninsky Prospect, 32a, Moscow, 119991