Books  Ecological & Biological Sciences  Evolutionary Biology  Human Evolution & Anthropology 

Innovation in Cultural Systems: Contributions from Evolutionary Anthropology

Series: Vienna Series in Theoretical Biology

Edited By: Michael J O'Brien and Stephen J Shennan

288 pages, 45 illustrations

MIT Press

Hardback | Dec 2009 | #195717 | ISBN-13: 9780262013338
Availability: Usually dispatched within 4 days Details
NHBS Price: £34.99 $44/€39 approx

About this book

In recent years an interest in applying the principles of evolution to the study of culture emerged in the social sciences. Archaeologists and anthropologists reconsidered the role of innovation in particular, and have moved toward characterizing innovation in cultural systems not only as a product but also as an evolutionary process. This distinction was familiar to biology but new to the social sciences; cultural evolutionists from the nineteenth to the twentieth century had tended to see innovation as a preprogrammed change that occurred when a cultural group "needed" to overcome environmental problems. In this volume, leading researchers from a variety of disciplines-including anthropology, archaeology, evolutionary biology, philosophy, and psychology-offer their perspectives on cultural innovation. The book provides not only a range of views but also an integrated account, with the chapters offering an orderly progression of thought.

The contributors consider innovation in biological terms, discussing epistemology, animal studies, systematics and phylogeny, phenotypic plasticity and evolvability, and Evo Devo; they discuss modern insights into innovation, including simulation, the random-copying model, diffusion, and demographic analysis; and they offer case studies of innovation from archaeological and ethnographic records, examining developmental, behavioral, and social patterns.


Series Foreword
Preface and Acknowledgments

1#Issues in Anthropological Studies of Innovation 3

2#Innovation and Invention from a Logical Point of View
3#Comparative Perspectives on Human Innovation
4#Organismal Innovation
5#Innovation, Replicative Behavior, and Evolvability: Contributions from Neuroscience and Human Decision-Making Theory
6#Innovation from EvoDevo to Human Culture

7#The Evolution of Innovation-Enhancing Institutions
8#Fashion versus Reason in the Creative Industries
9#Demography and Variation in the Accumulation of Culturally Inherited Skills
10#Cultural Traditions and the Evolutionary Advantages of Noninnovation
11#The Experimental Study of Cultural Innovation
12#Social Learning, Economic Inequality, and Innovation Diffusion

13#Technological Innovations and Developmental Trajectories: Social Factors as Evolutionary Forces
14#Can Archaeologists Study Processes of Invention?
15#War, Women, and Religion: The Spread of Salado Polychrome in the American Southwest

Index 269

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Michael J. O'Brien is Dean of the College of Arts and Science, Professor of Anthropology, and Director of the Museum of Anthropology at the University of Missouri.

Stephen J. Shennan is Professor of Theoretical Archaeology and Director of the Institute of Archaeology at University College London.

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