cultural_evolution   124

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The Psychology of Cultural Dynamics: What Is It, What Do We Know, and What Is Yet to Be Known? | Annual Review of Psychology
"The psychology of cultural dynamics is the psychological investigation of the formation, maintenance, and transformation of culture over time. This article maps out the terrain, reviews the existing literature, and points out potential future directions of this research. It is divided into three parts. The first part focuses on micro-cultural dynamics, which refers to the social and psychological processes that contribute to the dissemination and retention of cultural information. The second part, on micro–macro dynamics, investigates how micro-level processes give rise to macro-cultural dynamics. The third part focuses on macro-cultural dynamics, referring to the distribution and long-term trends involving cultural information in a population, which in turn enable and constrain the micro-level processes. We conclude the review with a consideration of future directions, suggesting behavior change research as translational research on cultural dynamics."
to:NB  psychology  cognitive_science  cultural_evolution  cultural_transmission  re:do-institutions-evolve 
4 weeks ago by cshalizi
Evolution in Archaeology | Annual Review of Anthropology
"This review begins with a brief outline of the key concepts of Darwinian archaeology. Its history is then summarized, beginning with its emergence as a significant theoretical focus within the discipline in the early 1980s; its main present-day currents are then presented, citing examples of recent work. The developments in archaeology are part of broader trends in anthropology and psychology and are characterized by the same theoretical disagreements. There are two distinct research traditions: one centered on cultural transmission and dual inheritance theory and the other on human behavioral ecology. The development of specifically archaeological methodologies within these two traditions for testing evolutionary hypotheses relating to diachronic questions using archaeological data is discussed. Finally, this review suggests that the greatest challenge for the future lies in finding ways of using archaeological data to address current major debates in evolutionary social science as a whole concerning, for example, the emergence of large-scale cooperation."
to:NB  archaeology  cultural_evolution 
4 weeks ago by cshalizi
A case study in societal evolution, part 3 « Ken’s Blog
There are generally four historical stages that a society goes through with regard to any particular oppressed subculture. In various eras this pattern has been repeated for the Irish, Italians, Chinese, Gay, Catholic, Black, Hispanic, Jewish and many other subcultures.

In the first stage, such internal conversations are simply ignored by the dominant subculture — as though they never happened. In the second stage, they are dismissed as needlessly combative and pointless.

In the third stage they are embraced as a bold wake-up call. In the fourth and final stage they become unnecessary, as society evolves to the point where the oppression itself fades away.
cultural_evolution 
march 2019 by tonyyet
How Traditions Live and Die - Paperback - Olivier Morin - Oxford University Press
Of all the things we do and say, most will never be repeated or reproduced. Once in a while, however, an idea or a practice generates a chain of transmission that covers more distance through space and time than any individual person ever could. What makes such transmission chains possible? For two centuries, the dominant view (from psychology to anthropology) was that humans owe their cultural prosperity to their powers of imitation. In this view, modern cultures exist because the people who carry them are gifted at remembering, storing and reproducing information. How Traditions Live and Die proposes an alternative to this standard view. What makes traditions live is not a general-purpose imitation capacity. Cultural transmission is partial, selective, often unfaithful. Some traditions live on in spite of this, because they tap into widespread and basic cognitive preferences. These attractive traditions spread, not by being better retained or more accurately transferred, but because they are transmitted over and over. This theory is used to shed light on various puzzles of cultural change (from the distribution of bird songs to the staying power of children's rhymes) and to explain the special relation that links the human species to its cultures. Morin combines recent work in cognitive anthropology with new advances in quantitative cultural history, to map and predict the diffusion of traditions. This book is both an introduction and an accessible alternative to contemporary theories of cultural evolution.

Referenced here
http://bactra.org/weblog/godzilla.html
book  cultural_transmission  cultural_evolution  via:cshalizi 
february 2019 by rvenkat
How The West Was Won | Slate Star Codex
-- Without an historian's critical approval, this speculation is as good as others... I have no idea whether this well written post is correct.
blog  debates  industrial_revolution  enlightenment  history_of_ideas  cultural_evolution  cultural_history 
january 2019 by rvenkat
The Power of the Normal by Cass R. Sunstein :: SSRN
How do judgments about law and morality shift? Why do we come to see conduct as egregiously wrong, when we had formerly seen it as merely inappropriate or even unobjectionable? Why do shifts occur in the opposite direction? A clue comes from the fact that some of our judgments are unstable, in the sense that they are an artifact of, or endogenous to, what else we see. This is true of sensory perception: Whether an object counts as blue or purple depends on what other objects surround it. It is also true for ethical judgments: Whether conduct counts as unethical depends on what other conduct is on people’s viewscreens. It follows that conduct that was formerly seen as ethical may come to seem unethical, as terrible behavior becomes less common, and also that conduct that was formerly seen as unethical may come to seem ethical, as terrible behavior becomes more common. In these circumstances, law (and enforcement practices) can have an important signaling effect, giving people a sense of what is normal and what is not. There is an important supplemental point, intensifying these effects: Once conduct comes to be seen as part of an unacceptable category – abusiveness, racism, lack of patriotism, microaggression, sexual harassment – real or apparent exemplars that are not so egregious, or perhaps not objectionable at all, might be taken as egregious, because they take on the stigma now associated with the category. Stigmatization by categorization can intensify the process by which formerly unobjectionable behavior becomes regarded as abhorrent. There is a relationship between stigmatization by categorization and “concept creep,” an idea applied in psychology to shifting understandings of such concepts as abuse, bullying, mental illness, and prejudice.

--Sunstein-ian repackaging of really old ideas from psychology of disgust (Rozin) and his & Kuran's work.
cass.sunstein  norms  dynamics  law  moral_psychology  social_movements  cultural_evolution  dmce  social_networks 
november 2018 by rvenkat
Fragmentation promotes accumulation | Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
"Identifying the determinants of cumulative cultural evolution is a key issue in the interdisciplinary field of cultural evolution. A widely held view is that large and well-connected social networks facilitate cumulative cultural evolution because they promote the spread of useful cultural traits and prevent the loss of cultural knowledge through factors such as drift. This view stems from models that focus on the transmission of cultural information, without considering how new cultural traits actually arise. In this paper, we review the literature from various fields that suggest that, under some circumstances, increased connectedness can decrease cultural diversity and reduce innovation rates. Incorporating this idea into an agent-based model, we explore the effect of population fragmentation on cumulative culture and show that, for a given population size, there exists an intermediate level of population fragmentation that maximizes the rate of cumulative cultural evolution. This result is explained by the fact that fully connected, non-fragmented populations are able to maintain complex cultural traits but produce insufficient variation and so lack the cultural diversity required to produce highly complex cultural traits. Conversely, highly fragmented populations produce a variety of cultural traits but cannot maintain complex ones. In populations with intermediate levels of fragmentation, cultural loss and cultural diversity are balanced in a way that maximizes cultural complexity. Our results suggest that population structure needs to be taken into account when investigating the relationship between demography and cumulative culture."
to:NB  to_read  cultural_evolution  diversity  social_networks  re:democratic_cognition  re:do-institutions-evolve  via:hugo_mercier 
october 2018 by cshalizi
Developing Scaffolds in Evolution, Culture, and Cognition | The MIT Press
"Scaffolding" is a concept that is becoming widely used across disciplines. This book investigates common threads in diverse applications of scaffolding, including theoretical biology, cognitive science, social theory, science and technology studies, and human development. Despite its widespread use, the concept of scaffolding is often given short shrift; the contributors to this volume, from a range of disciplines, offer a more fully developed analysis of scaffolding that highlights the role of temporal and temporary resources in development, broadly conceived, across concepts of culture, cognition, and evolution.

The book emphasizes reproduction, repeated assembly, and entrenchment of heterogeneous relations, parts, and processes as a complement to neo-Darwinism in the developmentalist tradition of conceptualizing evolutionary change. After describing an integration of theoretical perspectives that can accommodate different levels of analysis and connect various methodologies, the book discusses multilevel organization; differences (and reciprocality) between individuals and institutions as units of analysis; and perspectives on development that span brains, careers, corporations, and cultural cycles.

--link to a book review
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10441-014-9230-z

-- thoughts based on the introductory essay
Herb Simon's _Architecture of Complexity_ meets Developmental Biology. Stuff Andy Clark missed. S.J. Gould's first book philosophized.
book  philosophy_of_biology  philosophy_of_technology  cultural_evolution 
september 2018 by rvenkat
Hayek and the Evolution of Capitalism, Beck
"Few economists can claim the influence—or fame—of F. A. Hayek. Winner of the Nobel Prize, Hayek was one of the most consequential thinkers of the twentieth century, his views on the free market echoed by such major figures as Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.
"Yet even among those who study his work in depth, few have looked closely at his use of ideas from evolutionary science to advance his vision of markets and society. With this book Naomi Beck offers the first full-length engagement with Hayek’s thought from this perspective. Hayek argued that the capitalism we see in advanced civilizations is an unintended consequence of group selection—groups that adopted free market behavior expanded more successfully than others. But this attempt at a scientific grounding for Hayek’s principles, Beck shows, fails to hold water, plagued by incoherencies, misinterpretations of the underlying science, and lack of evidence. As crises around the globe lead to reconsiderations of the place of capitalism, Beck’s excavation of this little-known strand of Hayek’s thought—and its failure—is timely and instructive."
to:NB  books:noted  hayek.f.a._von  cultural_evolution 
july 2018 by cshalizi
Culture and the Course of Human Evolution, Tomlinson
"The rapid evolutionary development of modern Homo sapiens over the past 200,000 years is a topic of fevered interest in numerous disciplines. How did humans, while undergoing few physical changes from their first arrival, so quickly develop the capacities to transform their world? Gary Tomlinson’s Culture and the Course of Human Evolution is aimed at both scientists and humanists, and it makes the case that neither side alone can answer the most important questions about our origins. 
"Tomlinson offers a new model for understanding this period in our emergence, one based on analysis of advancing human cultures in an evolution that was simultaneously cultural and biological—a biocultural evolution. He places front and center the emergence of culture and the human capacities to create it, in a fashion that expands the conceptual framework of recent evolutionary theory. His wide-ranging vision encompasses arguments on the development of music, modern technology, and metaphysics. At the heart of these developments, he shows, are transformations in our species’ particular knack for signmaking. With its innovative synthesis of humanistic and scientific ideas, this book will be an essential text."
to:NB  books:noted  human_evolution  cultural_evolution  cultural_transmission_of_cognitive_tools 
june 2018 by cshalizi
The misunderstanding of memes: Biography of an unscientific object, 1976–1999 | Perspectives on Science | MIT Press Journals
"When the “meme” was introduced in 1976, it was as a metaphor intended to illuminate an evolutionary argument. By the late-1980s, however, we see from its use in major US newspapers that this original meaning had become obscured. The meme became a virus of the mind. (In the UK, this occurred slightly later.) It is also now clear that this becoming involved complex sustained interactions between scholars, journalists, and the letter-writing public. We must therefore read the “meme” through lenses provided by its popularization. The results are in turn suggestive of the processes of meaning-construction in scholarly communication more generally."
to:NB  to_read  cultural_evolution  epidemiology_of_representations 
june 2018 by cshalizi
Social Learning Strategies: Bridge-Building between Fields: Trends in Cognitive Sciences
"While social learning is widespread, indiscriminate copying of others is rarely beneficial. Theory suggests that individuals should be selective in what, when, and whom they copy, by following ‘social learning strategies’ (SLSs). The SLS concept has stimulated extensive experimental work, integrated theory, and empirical findings, and created impetus to the social learning and cultural evolution fields. However, the SLS concept needs updating to accommodate recent findings that individuals switch between strategies flexibly, that multiple strategies are deployed simultaneously, and that there is no one-to-one correspondence between psychological heuristics deployed and resulting population-level patterns. The field would also benefit from the simultaneous study of mechanism and function. SLSs provide a useful vehicle for bridge-building between cognitive psychology, neuroscience, and evolutionary biology."
to:NB  social_learning  cultural_transmission  cultural_evolution  cognitive_science  social_influence  re:do-institutions-evolve 
may 2018 by cshalizi
Coevolution of landesque capital intensive agriculture and sociopolitical hierarchy | PNAS
"One of the defining trends of the Holocene has been the emergence of complex societies. Two essential features of complex societies are intensive resource use and sociopolitical hierarchy. Although it is widely agreed that these two phenomena are associated cross-culturally and have both contributed to the rise of complex societies, the causality underlying their relationship has been the subject of longstanding debate. Materialist theories of cultural evolution tend to view resource intensification as driving the development of hierarchy, but the reverse order of causation has also been advocated, along with a range of intermediate views. Phylogenetic methods have the potential to test between these different causal models. Here we report the results of a phylogenetic study that modeled the coevolution of one type of resource intensification—the development of landesque capital intensive agriculture—with political complexity and social stratification in a sample of 155 Austronesian-speaking societies. We found support for the coevolution of landesque capital with both political complexity and social stratification, but the contingent and nondeterministic nature of both of these relationships was clear. There was no indication that intensification was the “prime mover” in either relationship. Instead, the relationship between intensification and social stratification was broadly reciprocal, whereas political complexity was more of a driver than a result of intensification. These results challenge the materialist view and emphasize the importance of both material and social factors in the evolution of complex societies, as well as the complex and multifactorial nature of cultural evolution."
to:NB  cultural_evolution  inequality  historical_materialism  phylogenetics 
may 2018 by cshalizi
[1704.03330] Food-bridging: a new network construction to unveil the principles of cooking
In this manuscript we propose, analyse, and discuss a possible new principle behind traditional cuisine: the Food-bridging hypothesis and its comparison with the food-pairing hypothesis using the same dataset and graphical models employed in the food-pairing study by Ahn et al. [Scientific Reports, 1:196 (2011)].
The Food-bridging hypothesis assumes that if two ingredients do not share a strong molecular or empirical affinity, they may become affine through a chain of pairwise affinities. That is, in a graphical model as employed by Ahn et al., a chain represents a path that joints the two ingredients, the shortest path represents the strongest pairwise chain of affinities between the two ingredients.
Food-pairing and Food-bridging are different hypotheses that may describe possible mechanisms behind the recipes of traditional cuisines. Food-pairing intensifies flavour by mixing ingredients in a recipe with similar chemical compounds, and food-bridging smoothes contrast between ingredients. Both food-pairing and food-bridging are observed in traditional cuisines, as shown in this work.
We observed four classes of cuisines according to food-pairing and food-bridging: (1) East Asian cuisines, at one extreme, tend to avoid food-pairing as well as food-bridging; and (4) Latin American cuisines, at the other extreme, follow both principles. For the two middle classes: (2) Southeastern Asian cuisines, avoid food-pairing and follow food-bridging; and (3) Western cuisines, follow food-pairing and avoid food-bridging.
culinary_history  cultural_evolution  cooking  recipe  culinary_science  networks  teaching 
march 2018 by rvenkat
[1111.6074] Flavor network and the principles of food pairing
The cultural diversity of culinary practice, as illustrated by the variety of regional cuisines, raises the question of whether there are any general patterns that determine the ingredient combinations used in food today or principles that transcend individual tastes and recipes. We introduce a flavor network that captures the flavor compounds shared by culinary ingredients. Western cuisines show a tendency to use ingredient pairs that share many flavor compounds, supporting the so-called food pairing hypothesis. By contrast, East Asian cuisines tend to avoid compound sharing ingredients. Given the increasing availability of information on food preparation, our data-driven investigation opens new avenues towards a systematic understanding of culinary practice

http://barabasi.com/f/355.pdf

https://github.com/lingcheng99/Flavor-Network

-- my acquired expertise in cooking is going to influence my judgment of this paper.
culinary_history  cultural_evolution  cooking  recipe  culinary_science  networks  teaching 
march 2018 by rvenkat
Project MUSE - The End of the Modern Academy: At the University of Chicago, for Example
The title of this essay is meant to suggest a particular understanding of the mission or end of the modern academy as exemplified by certain ideals associated in the minds of many academics around the world with the University of Chicago. The title is also meant to signal and raise concerns about contemporary threats to that mission, even at the University of Chicago itself. Examined in the essay are three core values of the modern academy. Are they foolish ideals? Have they become postmodern antiques?

Ideal #1: "Research done primarily in anticipation of profit is incompatible with the aims of the university."

Ideal #2: "The basic principles of the university include complete freedom of research and the unrestricted dissemination of information."

Ideal #3: "There must be no consideration of sex, ethnic or national characteristics, or political or religious beliefs or affiliations in any decision regarding appointment, promotion, or reappointment at any level of the academic staff.

Full article here
https://humdev.uchicago.edu/sites/humdev.uchicago.edu/files/uploads/shweder/Shweder_JP-CS-PL-RS-FINAL.pdf
academia  university  philosophy  ethics  pedagogy  critique  cultural_evolution  anthropology 
december 2017 by rvenkat
The Rise and Fall of the English Sentence
-- the title does not do enough justice to the contents of the essay
-- conspicuous by absence is Sapir-Whorf
comparative  linguistics  language  cognitive_science  cognition  common_knowledge  communication  cultural_evolution  via:pinker 
december 2017 by rvenkat

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