Cultural evolution of normative motivations for sustainable behaviour

An emerging literature on the evolution of culture can offer new explanations for how norms encourage or obstruct sustainable practices. In particular, the dual-inheritance theory describes how interactions between genetic and cultural evolution give rise, in part, to prosociality. Based on this theory, we identify the concept of normative motivation — internalized desires to follow and enforce norms. We discuss the utility of this concept in progressing two major research agendas across the social and behavioral sciences: the impact of motivation on cognition and normative behavior, and the influence of norms on the policy process. Key contributions from considering norms from this evolutionary perspective include: (1) an improved model of the motivations that lead individuals to follow norms, (2) clarification of how and when incentives successfully generate motivations favoring sustainability and (3) new ideas for leveraging the influence of norms in public policy beyond financial incentives and education campaigns.

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Posted in Cultural evolution | Tagged

Analysis of interdisciplinary cultural evolution

The science of cultural evolution is unified in its application of evolutionary logic to socially transmitted behavior, but diverse in methodologies and assumptions. Qualitative reviews have encouraged integration by illuminating points of divergence and fostering interaction. This effort would be greatly enhanced by quantitative data on patterns of collaboration and idea sharing in the literature. In the present study, we apply a novel combination of network, cluster, and bibliometric analyses to an extensive dataset of publications on cultural evolution, in order to represent the structure of the field and evaluate the level of disciplinary integration. We first construct a co-authorship network and identify subdisciplines. We then use bibliometric analyses to describe each subdiscipline and investigate trends in collaboration and productivity. Lastly, we assess the topographical distance and degree of citation sharing between subdisciplines, as well as the diversity of subject categories within subdisciplines. Our results reveal an increase in productivity and collaboration over time, albeit a higher inequality in author productivity than expected. Our structural approach reveals research subcommunities with differential levels of integration, citation sharing, and subject diversity. These findings confirm the emergence of a vigorous interdisciplinary field and indicate ways to foster integration and synthesis in cultural evolution.

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Language matters in transdisciplinarity

Why should transdisciplinarians, in particular, care about multilingualism and what can be done to embrace it?

From a linguist’s point of view, I suggest that, in a globalized world, a one language policy is not only problematic from the point of view of fair power relations and equal participation opportunities, but it also weakens science as a whole by excluding ideas, perspectives, and arguments from being voiced and heard.

When people communicate, more is at stake than a mere exchange of information, coordination of activities, and joint problem-solving. Every time we speak, write or engage in other semiotic modes of social interchange, we construe and transform social relationships, we convey, defend, and dispute images of ourselves and others and we establish and negotiate hierarchies of social order and power.

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Books by the Center for Hellenic Studies

The following list includes some books that were made available through the generosity of their authors and/or publishers; some which have fallen out of print, but which remain foundational for the discipline; and some which are being published here for the first time, including theses, original translations, and additional research projects. All of the volumes here have been selected by the CHS editorial board, and each is accessible online in full.

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Where Do We Come From?

The idea that a single population was the ancestor of all living humans is neat and convenient, but it is not consistent with the data.

The origin of modern humans is one of the most popular and hotly debated topics in the history of human evolution research. Researchers have produced a thick literature, both scholarly and public. I want to take issue with the two statements contained within this dominant paleoanthropological narrative: first, the suggestion that there is an identifiable point in time and place to call an origin; and second, the related implication that there exists a definable entity called “modern humans.” These two statements are taken as premises and remained largely unquestioned until recently. New research and a new generation of researchers are challenging these presuppositions at the heart of the discipline, and evidence is mounting to suggest that modern humans do not have an origin. Instead, we may be looking at fuzzy boundaries and messy origins. These terms are not as clean, but they are more likely to get us closer to true story of human evolution.

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Deleuze and Anthropology

This entry takes on two subjects. First, it addresses the influence that anthropology had on the work of the mid-twentieth century French philosopher Gilles Deleuze, and second, the influence that Gilles Deleuze’s work has subsequently exerted on anthropology. In Deleuze’s encounter with anthropology, he ended up seeing anthropological structuralism as a limit to thought. However, he saw Anglo-American anthropology, and some later French anthropology, as powerful tools for conceiving different arrangements of the world, and he ended up relying heavily on these materials when he constructed his own Nietzschian longue durée speculative anthropology. As a discipline, anthropology has had little interest in Deleuze’s speculative anthropology; however, it has seen both Deleuze’s overall aesthetics and many of his concepts as theoretical engines that could be used piecemeal at will, with little concern for the role they played in Deleuze’s overall thought, or for how having these ideas reterritorialized in anthropology might affect them. In the end, this entry suggests that despite the outsized reception of Deleuze in anthropology, a real encounter with Deleuze’s thoughts have yet to occur; despite this lack of a true, sustained engagement, anthropological use of Deleuzian concepts has still been incredibly productive in the discipline.

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Digital Anthropology

The digital’ is defined here as new technologies that are ultimately reducible to binary code. These have made many cultural artefacts easier and quicker to both reproduce and to share. The first section of this entry is concerned with populations and worlds that are largely the result of digital technologies. The second section examines the more general use and consequences of digital technologies on diverse populations around the world. Rather than separating off the impact of digital technologies, a major contribution of anthropology has been through holistic ethnography, which demonstrates that we can only understand new digital worlds in the context of wider social relations and practices. Rather than trying to adjudicate digital technologies as positive or negative, anthropology may also focus upon their inherent contradictions. A third section examines the way digital technologies impact anthropological methodology. In the final section the concern is with the impact digital anthropology may have on our conception of anthropology itself and what it means to be human.

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The Ontological Turn

‘Culture’ is in many ways the most fundamental of anthropological concepts. Yet it has been the subject of a range of critical interventions in the course of the discipline’s history, the most recent of which is the ‘ontological turn’. Proponents of the ontological turn argue that ‘culture’ carries with it significant metaphysical baggage. In particular, they point out that it implies that although human beings may differ in their ideas about or viewpoints on the world and other material or natural objects, such objects themselves do not vary with these ideas. ‘Cultures’ may differ, but nature does not. The ontological turn proposes that we dispense with these metaphysical implications, in favour of a radical methodological openness to difference of all kinds, be it what we would call cultural and epistemological or natural and, indeed, ontological. This entry surveys some of the reasons proponents of this approach have given for adopting it, describes some examples of its use, and discusses some critiques of it, before concluding by pointing to the importance of the questions it raises for anthropology.

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Poesía mapuche: los versos de una cultura eterna

Leer, analizar e internalizar la poesía mapuche en el actual contexto social, y junto a ello vislumbrar las razones existentes para escribir literatura de este estilo, son aspectos necesarios para entender a una sociedad que aplaude al conquistador y menosprecia al indígena, siendo el bárbaro un escritor de versos cargados de una emotividad real y concreta, y el colonizado quien los lee con más interés.

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Posted in Indigenous culture, Indigenous people | Tagged ,

Cultural Models: Genesis, Methods, and Experiences

This book is about cultural models. Cultural models are defined as molar organizations of knowledge. Their internal structure consists of a ‘core’ component and ‘peripheral’ nodes that are filled by default values. These values are instantiated, i.e., changed to specific values or left at their default values, when the individual experiences ‘events’ of any type. Thus, the possibility arises for recognizing and categorizing events as representative of the same cultural model even if they slightly differ in each of their specific occurrences. Cultural models play an important role in the generation of one’s behavior. They correlate well with those of others and the behaviors they help shape are usually interpreted by others as intended. A proposal is then advanced to consider cultural models as fundamental units of analysis for an approach to culture that goes beyond the dichotomy between the individual (culture only in mind) and the collective (culture only in the social realm). The genesis of the concept of the cultural model is traced from Kant to contemporary scholars. The concept underwent a number of transformations (including label) while it crossed and received further and unique elaborations within disciplines like philosophy, psychology, anthropology, sociology, artificial intelligence, and cognitive science. A methodological trajectory is outlined that blends qualitative and quantitative techniques that cross-feed each other in the gargantuan effort to discover cultural models. A survey follows of the extensive research about cultural models carried out with populations of North Americans, Europeans, Latino- and Native-Americans, Asians (including South Asians and South-East Asians), Pacific Islanders, and Africans. The results of the survey generated the opportunity to propose an empirically motivated typology of cultural models rooted in the primary difference between foundational and molar types. The book closes with a suggestion of a number of avenues that the authors recognize the research on cultural models could be traversing in the near future.

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