The passage below is accompanied by four questions. Based on the passage, choose the best answer for each question.

[Fifty] years after its publication in English [in 1972], and just a year since [Marshall] Sahlins himself died—we may ask: why did [his essay] “Original Affluent Society” have such an impact, and how has it fared since? . . . Sahlins’s principal argument was simple but counterintuitive: before being driven into marginal environments by colonial powers, hunter-gatherers, or foragers, were not engaged in a desperate struggle for meager survival. Quite the contrary, they satisfied their needs with far less work than people in agricultural and industrial societies, leaving them more time to use as they wished. Hunters, he quipped, keep bankers’ hours. Refusing to maximize, many were “more concerned with games of chance than with chances of game.” . . . The so-called Neolithic Revolution, rather than improving life, imposed a harsher work regime and set in motion the long history of growing inequality . . .

Moreover, foragers had other options. The contemporary Hadza of Tanzania, who had long been surrounded by farmers, knew they had alternatives and rejected them. To Sahlins, this showed that foragers are not simply examples of human diversity or victimhood but something more profound: they demonstrated that societies make real choices. Culture, a way of living oriented around a distinctive set of values, manifests a fundamental principle of collective self-determination. . . .

But the point [of the essay] is not so much the empirical validity of the data—the real interest for most readers, after all, is not in foragers either today or in the Paleolithic—but rather its conceptual challenge to contemporary economic life and bourgeois individualism. The empirical served a philosophical and political project, a thought experiment and stimulus to the imagination of possibilities.

With its title’s nod toward The Affluent Society (1958), economist John Kenneth Galbraith’s famously skeptical portrait of America’s postwar prosperity and inequality, and dripping with New Left contempt for consumerism, “The Original Affluent Society” brought this critical perspective to bear on the contemporary world. It did so through the classic anthropological move of showing that radical alternatives to the readers’ lives really exist. If the capitalist world seeks wealth through ever greater material production to meet infinitely expansive desires, foraging societies follow “the Zen road to affluence”: not by getting more, but by wanting less. If it seems that foragers have been left behind by “progress,” this is due only to the ethnocentric self-congratulation of the West. Rather than accumulate material goods, these societies are guided by other values: leisure, mobility, and above all, freedom. . . .

Viewed in today’s context, of course, not every aspect of the essay has aged well. While acknowledging the violence of colonialism, racism, and dispossession, it does not thematize them as heavily as we might today. Rebuking evolutionary anthropologists for treating present-day foragers as “left behind” by progress, it too can succumb to the temptation to use them as proxies for the Paleolithic. Yet these characteristics should not distract us from appreciating Sahlins’s effort to show that if we want to conjure new possibilities, we need to learn about actually inhabitable worlds.

Question 15

The author of the passage mentions Galbraith’s “The Affluent Society” to:


The passage explicitly mentions that Sahlins's essay, "The Original Affluent Society," brought a critical perspective to contemporary consumerism and inequality, echoing the themes found in John Kenneth Galbraith's work, "The Affluent Society." The passage notes that Sahlins's essay contrasts the values of foraging societies with the capitalist pursuit of wealth, and it suggests that the essay complements Galbraith's skeptical portrait of postwar prosperity and inequality. Therefore, Option D accurately reflects the information presented in the passage regarding the relationship between Sahlins's views and Galbraith's criticism of contemporary society.

The passage does not suggest that Galbraith’s theories refute Sahlins’s thesis but rather highlights their complementarity (Option A) nor does it focus on contrasting foragers' ways of living with Galbraith's views on contemporary growth paths (Option B).

The passage does not document the influence of Galbraith’s views on Sahlins’s analysis; instead, it emphasizes how Sahlins's essay complements Galbraith’s critical perspective on contemporary society. Therefore Option C is incorrect too.

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