Skip to main content

Culture and the Evolutionary Process

How do biological, psychological, sociological, and cultural factors combine to change societies over the long run? Boyd and Richerson explore how genetic and cultural factors interact, under the influence of evolutionary forces, to produce the diversity we see in human cultures. Using methods developed by population biologists, they propose a theory of cultural evolution that is an original and fair-minded alternative to the sociobiology debate.

340 pages | 6.63 x 9.50 | © 1985

Anthropology: Cultural and Social Anthropology

Biological Sciences: Evolutionary Biology

Table of Contents

1. Overview
An Informal Sketch of the Dual Inheritance Model
The Relationship between Genetic and Cultural Evolution
The General Utility of Dual Inheritance Theory
2. Some Methodological Preliminaries
Darwinian Approach
Modeling Complex Phenomena
Use of Data
In Defense of Mathematical Models
In Defense of Analogies
3. The Cultural Inheritance System
Defining Cultural Inheritance
Review of Data from the Social Sciences
Models of Cultural Transmission
4. Guided Variation and the Evolution of Cultural Inheritance
Models of Learning
The Force of Guided Variation
The Evolution of Cultural Transmission
Comparing Genetic and Cultural Transmission
5. Biased Transmission and the Sociobiology Debate
An Overview of Biased Transmission
Models of Direct Bias
The Adaptive Consequences of Direct Bias
An Evaluation of Sociobiological Hypotheses
The Empirical Evidence
6. The Natural Selection of Cultural Variations: Conflicts between Cultural and Genetic Evolution
Empirical Examples
Models of Natural Selection
The Evolution of Nonparental Transmission
The Interaction of Selection with Direct Bias and Guided Variation
The Demographic Transition
7. Frequency-dependent Bias and the Evolution of Cooperation
Models of Frequency-dependent Bias
The Adaptive Advantages of Conformist Transmission
Empirical Research on Conformity
Conformit Transmission and Cultural Group Selection
8. Indirect Bias and the Evolution of Symbolic Traits
Evidence for Indirect Bias
Models of Indirect Bias
The Runaway Process
Possible Examples of the Runaway Process
Symbolic Culture and the Runaway and Drift-Away Processes
9. Conclusion
Summary of the Main Results
Utility of Dual Inheritance Theory
Future Work
References and Author Index
Subject Index


School of Advanced Research: J. I. Staley Prize

Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press