Sorre, Max. 1962. The concept of Genre de Vie. Chap. in Readings in cultural geography, edited by Philips L. Wagner and Marvin Mikesell. Chicago, III. The University of Chicago Press.

Synopsis

(Genre de Vie: Way of Life)

The main argument of the article by Max Sorre “The concept of Genre de Vie.” is to analyze the complex of habitual activities, which characterizes a human group and provides the foundation for its existence” (399). His concept is rich because it embraces most of the activities of a group and of an individual that a group maintains its cohesion by the techniques and implements for the utilization of energy source by his own creative power.

Sorre further explains that to describe the genre de vie as a combination of techniques is not unreasonable because the ability of a group to utilize the possibilities of its environment marks the way of life (400).  For instance, the primitive man kills his prey with arrows, stones, or hunting sticks while in another stage of civilization he uses the digging sticks, hoes or plows (400). Since all traits do not have the same functional or temporal significance, it is, therefore, the concept to include non-material or spiritual, the religious elements (such as Christians prayers to seek heavy rainfall), the social elements (basically the agricultural societies) elements, the economic elements (basically the settlement pattern, system of land tenure and agrarian structure), the environmental elements (especially the nomads and Eskimos) and the livelihood (the type of agriculture they do and the animals they rear) came into consideration to describe the way of life (400-403). The genre de vie is subjected to change as per the new inventions, the change in the environment and introduction of new elements, whatsoever, a genre de vie is born, grows, and flowers –and it is when it has reached this degree of maturity that we characterize it (403).

Even though the genre de vie has tried adjusting to the standardization, it is obvious there is a circulation of the elements that renew, which perhaps results in a profound loss, but still obey the law of least change, which in some degree, ensures their stabilization (409-414). Therefore, Sorre concludes saying that “if he wishes to continue to use the fruitful concept of genre de vie, he must take account of what has been gained and lost.

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