Beyond Nature Versus Culture: cultural variation as an evolved characteristic (2009)

Author(s): Nettle D

    Abstract: There is a perceived dichotomy between evolutionary explanations for behaviour and social or cultural ones. In this essay, I attempt to dissolve this dichotomy by pointing out that organisms are susceptible to social or cultural influence because they have evolved mechanisms that make them so. I review two classes of evolutionary explanation for cultural variation, 'evoked' and 'transmitted' culture, and argue that these two classes of mechanism enrich and strengthen existing social science accounts, as well as making new predictions. I suggest a high degree of mutual compatibility and potential gains from trade between the social and biological sciences.

      • Date: 06-05-2009
      • Journal: Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
      • Volume: 15
      • Issue: 2
      • Pages: 223-240
      • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
      • Publication type: Article
      • Bibliographic status: Published

      Professor Daniel Nettle
      Professor of Behavioural Science