Cultural Evolution: The Empirical and Theoretical Landscape

Cultural Evolution

The Empirical and Theoretical Landscape
Edition number: 1
Publisher: Routledge
Date of Publication:
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Product details:

No. of pages:272 pages
Size:229x152 mm
Weight:453 g
Illustrations: 4 Illustrations, black & white; 4 Line drawings, black & white; 2 Tables, black & white
Short description:

This book illustrates how fusion-fission cycles actually constitute what we call "culture." Providing specific case studies, including cultural shifts in the 1960s, recurring "moral panics", and nation-formation, the book concludes with general principles of fusion-fission dynamics to help scholars understand this universal phenomenon.

Long description:

Since the dawn of social science, theorists have debated how and why societies appear to change, develop and evolve. Today, this question is pursued by scholars across many different disciplines and our understanding of these dynamics has grown markedly. Yet, there remain important areas of disagreement and debate: what is the difference between societal change, development and evolution? What specific aspects of cultures change, develop or evolve and why? Do societies change, develop or evolve in particular ways, perhaps according to cycles, or stages or in response to survival necessities? How do different disciplines?from sociology to anthropology to psychology and economics?approach these questions?

This book provides complex and nuanced answers to these, and many other, questions. First, the book invites readers to consider the broad landscape of societal dynamics across human history, beginning with humanity?s origins in small nomadic bands of hunter gatherers through to the emergence of post-industrial democracies. Then, the book provides a tour of several prominent existing theories of cultural change, development and evolution. Approaches to explaining cultural dynamics will be discussed across disciplines and schools of thought, from "meme" theories to established cumulative cultural evolutionary theories to newly emerging theories on cultural tightness-looseness. The book concludes with a call for theoretical integration and a frank discussion of some of the most unexamined structures that drive cultural dynamics across schools of thought.

Table of Contents:


Chapter 1. The Social Environment of Evolutionary Adaptedness

Chapter 2. "Cultural Evolution," Descriptively

Chapter 3. Evolutionary Sociology

Chapter 4. Cyclic Theories

Chapter 5. Cumulative Cultural Evolution

Chapter 6. Memetics

Chapter 7. The Evolution of Norms, Values and Identities

Chapter 8. Toward an Integration and Theoretical Extension