Human Nature 3 (4):379-412 (1992)

A noteworthy development that has transpired in American sociology in the past quarter century has been the increasingly sophisticated interest in the analysis of human cultural systems. Sadly, however, these analyses reveal that social scientists rarely appreciate the profoundly evolutionary aspects of human culture. The chief purpose of this essay is to address this shortcoming and to offer some tentative suggestions toward its rectification. The essay begins by briefly reviewing recent developments in the analysis of cultural systems, primarily by reference to the influential work of Wuthnow. Second, a common flaw in these approaches is addressed—namely, the absence of any recognition of the value of grounding sociocultural theory in an informed evolutionary framework—and the case is made that this shortcoming is avoidable, even within the context of the intellectual traditions of the social sciences. Third, the evolutionary foundations of human cultural behavior are explored in terms of an analysis of relevant theoretical and empirical developments in the evolutionary neurosciences. Fourth, the value of these insights is illustrated by reference to an evolutionary critique of a recent and thought-provoking contribution to the study of modern political culture—Douglas and Wildavsky’s analysis ofRisk and Culture. Finally, the article concludes by emphasizing the value of and the necessity for incorporating evolutionary reasoning into the domain of sociocultural theory
Keywords Cultural evolution  Culture theory  Reductionism  Sectarianism  Sociobiology  Symbolization  Reification
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DOI 10.1007/BF02734056
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References found in this work BETA

Sociobiology: The New Synthesis.Edward O. Wilson - 1975 - Journal of the History of Biology 33 (3):577-584.

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The Darwinian Roots of Human Neurosis.Daniel R. Wilson - 1994 - Acta Biotheoretica 42 (1):49-62.

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