Subsistence pattern

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A subsistence pattern (or strategy) is the method by which a society acquires its food resources. The subsistence patten is influenced by the natural environment and ecology of the region the society lives in. Anthropologists recognize five major subsistence strategies: Foraging, Horticulture, Pastoralism, Agriculture, and Industrialism.[1] Foraging is the act of collecting, fishing, or hunting for food (ex. Aleuts, Australian Aborigines, Mbuti). Horticulture is the non-industrial system of plant cultivation in which plots lie fallow for varying lengths of time (ex. Jivaro, Yanommamo). Pastoralists receive most of their food from herds of domesticated animals (Massai, Bedouin). Agriculture is the growing of food in the same location for an extended period of time, and typically involving some form of irrigation system (ex. Cherokee, Feudal Japan, pre-industrial Europe). Industrialism refers to a society in which most of the population is not directly involved in the food production process (United States, Europe, Japan).


  1. Kotak, Conrad. 2005. Window on Humanity: A Concise Introduction to Anthropology. New York: McGraw-Hill.