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The social patterns that constrain behavior in each language group in Irian Jaya define both what holds the culture together internally and what protects it against dismemberment from the outside.
As happens with the people of other countries, the people of these varied indigenous cultures face mounting contact with representatives of the country’s major culture. Any attempt to understand their chances of cultural survival or adaptation must be based on an understanding of the social fabric that provides cohesion for each culture. The articles contained in this volume reveal the way the people cope with the forces that present both tension and stability as an essential part of their social fabric.