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Man Takes Control: Cultural Development and American Aid
by Charles Erasmus
University of Minnesota Press, 1961
Paper: 978-0-8166-6855-7

Man Takes Control was first published in 1961.This is an inquiry into the causes and cultural behavior, the nature of its development, and problems of foreign aid in relation to cultural development. Professor Erasmus examines technical assistance programs in some of the underdeveloped areas of the world and relates the significance of such programs to a general concept of cultural change.Most of the examples are drawn from his own experiences. He presents a case study of cultural development in northwestern Mexico, where road and irrigation projects have created new opportunities for commercial expansion. The study is based on his observations in Sonora, Mexico, made while he was associated with the University of Illinois Cultural Change Project.Before presenting the case study, Professor Erasmus discusses his theories of cultural causality and cultural development. He projects and original theory of cultural causality with the causal components of cognition, motivation, and limitation. In a modification of Thorstein Veblen’s concepts of conspicuous consumption and invidious comparison, he offers a three-level view of cultural development which includes conspicuous giving, conspicuous ownership, and conspicuous production, with their corresponding types of invidious comparison.

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