Cultural Transmission and Evolution: A Quantitative Approach

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Princeton University Press, 1981 - 388 pagine

A number of scholars have found that concepts such as mutation, selection, and random drift, which emerged from the theory of biological evolution, may also explain evolutionary phenomena in other disciplines as well. Drawing on these concepts, Professors Cavalli-Sforza and Feldman classify and systematize the various modes of transmitting "culture" and explore their consequences for cultural evolution. In the process, they develop a mathematical theory of the non-genetic transmission of cultural traits that provides a framework for future investigations in quantitative social and anthropological science.

The authors use quantitative models that incorporate the various modes of transmission (for example, parent-child, peer-peer, and teacher-student), and evaluate data from sociology, archaeology, and epidemiology in terms of the models. They show that the various modes of transmission in conjunction with cultural and natural selection produce various rates of cultural evolution and various degrees of diversity within and between groups. The same framework can be used for explaining phenomena as apparently unrelated as linguistics, epidemics, social values and customs, and diffusion of innovations. The authors conclude that cultural transmission is an essential factor in the study of cultural change.

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Informazioni sull'autore (1981)

Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza was born in Genoa, Italy on January 25, 1922. He received a medical degree from the University of Pavia in 1944. He worked as a physician in Italy for two years before deciding to focus on microbiology and then genetics. He became an assistant professor at the University of Cambridge in Britain in 1948. From 1951 to 1970, he taught at the University of Parma as well as at the University of Pavia, where he led the genetics department. He was a professor at Stanford University from 1970 to 1992 and continued to do research for more than a decade after retiring. Dr. Cavalli-Sforza was a pioneer in using genetic information to help trace human evolution, history, and patterns of migration. He was the founder of genetic geography and the co-founder of cultural evolution with Marcus Feldman. He worked on the Human Genome Diversity Project. He was the author or co-author of hundreds of scientific articles and nine books including The History and Geography of Human Genes. He died on August 31, 2018 at the age of 96.

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