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The Evolution of Cultural Entities$
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Michael Wheeler, John Ziman, and Margaret A. Boden

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780197262627

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197262627.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM BRITISH ACADEMY SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.britishacademy.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright British Academy, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in BASO for personal use.date: 04 March 2021

Between Development and Evolution: How to Model Cultural Change

Between Development and Evolution: How to Model Cultural Change

(p.27) Between Development and Evolution: How to Model Cultural Change
The Evolution of Cultural Entities

Eva Jablonka

British Academy

This chapter explores how the Darwinian model of evolution emerged as a major organising concept for explaining cultural change. It considers the application of the general framework of selection theory for thinking about cultural change and the evolution of other aspects of the world, but argues that the genic, neo-Darwinian model is inadequate for understanding cultural evolution. The chapter first discusses some of the properties of the genetic system and highlights the problems it poses for modelling cultural change, as well as some of the properties of the other inheritance systems known today (the epigenetic, the behavioural and the symbolic). It then suggests how changing the major assumptions of the classical genetic model gives rise to a view that denies a categorical distinction between evolution and development. It also argues that the classic neo-Darwinian assumptions about heredity and evolution must be abandoned in favour of more ‘Lamarckian’ genetic models that assign a central role to targeted genetic variation and somatic selection. Finally, it describes epigenetic inheritance systems, along with the transmission and selection of behavioural variants.

Keywords:   evolution, cultural change, selection theory, cultural evolution, development, heredity, genetic models, genetic variation, somatic selection, epigenetic inheritance systems

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