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Academic & Professional Books  Evolutionary Biology  Human Evolution

Cultural Evolution How Darwinian Theory Can Explain Human Culture and Synthesize the Social Sciences

By: Alex Mesoudi(Author)
264 pages, 11 b/w illustrations, 2 tables
Cultural Evolution
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  • Cultural Evolution ISBN: 9780226520438 Hardback Aug 2011 Not in stock: Usually dispatched within 6 days
  • Cultural Evolution ISBN: 9780226520445 Paperback Aug 2011 Out of stock with supplier: order now to get this when available
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About this book Contents Customer reviews Biography Related titles

About this book

Charles Darwin changed the course of scientific thinking by showing how evolution accounts for the stunning diversity and biological complexity of life on earth. Recently, there has also been increased interest in the social sciences in how Darwinian theory can explain human culture.

Covering a wide range of topics, including fads, public policy, the spread of religion, and herd behavior in markets, Alex Mesoudi shows that human culture is itself an evolutionary process that exhibits the key Darwinian mechanisms of variation, competition, and inheritance. This cross-disciplinary volume focuses on the ways cultural phenomena can be studied scientifically – from theoretical modeling to lab experiments, archaeological fieldwork to ethnographic studies – and shows how apparently disparate methods can complement one another to the mutual benefit of the various social science disciplines. Along the way, this book reveals how new insights arise from looking at culture from an evolutionary angle. Cultural Evolution provides a thought-provoking argument that Darwinian evolutionary theory can both unify different branches of inquiry and enhance understanding of human behavior.



1 A Cultural Species
2 Cultural Evolution
3 Cultural Microevolution
4 Cultural Macroevolution I: Archaeology and Anthropology
5 Cultural Macroevolution II: Language and History
6 Evolutionary Experiments: Cultural Evolution in the Lab
7 Evolutionary Ethnography: Cultural Evolution in the Field
8 Evolutionary Economics: Cultural Evolution in the Marketplace
9 Culture in Nonhuman Species
10 Toward an Evolutionary Synthesis for the Social Sciences

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Customer Reviews


Alex Mesoudi is a lecturer in psychology at Queen Mary, University of London.

By: Alex Mesoudi(Author)
264 pages, 11 b/w illustrations, 2 tables
Media reviews

"Alex Mesoudi argues very persuasively that the way we think and act is enormously influenced by the culture in which we live and that the major elements of modern culture – science, technology, law, music, and religion – have evolved over time in a quite concrete sense of the term. His book is a very good read."
- Richard R. Nelson, Columbia University

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