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Publication - Professor Fiona Jordan

    The evolutionary approach to history

    sociocultural phylogenetics


    Blute, M & Jordan, F, 2018, ‘The evolutionary approach to history: sociocultural phylogenetics’. in: Rosemary L Hopcroft (eds) Oxford Handbook of Evolution, Biology, and Society. Oxford University Press


    There are three forms of modern Darwinian evolutionism in the social sciences and humanities: the gene-based biological, the social learning-based sociocultural, and gene-culture coevolution dealing with their interaction. This chapter focuses on cultural or sociocultural evolution. It begins with a discussion of the Darwinian-inspired evolutionary approach to history. It then outlines modern evolutionary phylogenetic methods borrowed from biology but now used extensively in the social sciences and humanities. The chapter provides examples of how language trees may be inferred; phylogenetic comparative methods that use language trees to answer questions about aspects of geographical, social, political, cultural, or economic organization; and phylogenetic investigations of material culture and traditions. It is concluded that culture does indeed “descend with modification.

    Full details in the University publications repository