Category Archives: Evolution

Fear and Loathing in the Summer of Covid

As one of Malthus’ four horsemen of human death, disease (& plague & epi/pandemic) has been a central force in human societies. Besides the obvious illness, death, and general misery diseases bring, despite being hidden in plain sight from humans … Continue reading

Posted in Evolution, Musings on Sociological Theory | 2 Comments

PANIC/GRIEF, or the Pain of Social Distance

Do you feel it? The pain of being stuck inside, apart from the people you love? Apart from the routine movements that fill the rounds of daily life that are blindly taken for granted? The patterns of interaction or exchange … Continue reading

Posted in Emotion, Evolution, Musings on Sociological Theory | 2 Comments

On Institutional Entrepreneurship

For the most part, social scientists either intentionally/unintentionally make vague the unit of selection, or what is being selected on (Runciman 2009; also, a previous post), or turn to the meme or something analogous (Blute 2010; Lenski 2005). But, much cultural evolution … Continue reading

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Sociocultural Evolution: Institutions as Survivor Machines

Like the concept culture, institution has so many definitions that it is may be a useless term in the long-run (for a much more in-depth take, see Abrutyn 2014). Nonetheless, sociology, according to Durkheim (1895), is the science of institutions. Institutions were, for … Continue reading

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The Nuts and Bolts of Evolution, IV: General Evolution

Having laid out some key aspects of evolution in previous posts (here, here, and here), I want to turn to the two strategies sociologists may follow that biological evolution takes: general and specific evolution. Specific evolution is phylogenetic, or the comparative study … Continue reading

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Sociocultural Evolution: Universal Human Concerns

When I first began writing about institutional evolution (Abrutyn 2009), I was continually confronted with the same problem functionalists had – e.g., why does every society have a “polity” or a “kinship” system? That is, there is something seemingly biological … Continue reading

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The Nuts and Bolts of Evolution, III: Sociology’s Greatest Sin, the Stage Model

If you asked a biologist, “are there stages of hominid evolution?”, they’d look at you like you were crazy. Of course, biological evolution is, from a teleological standpoint, directionless. So, why has sociology been so preoccupied with classificatory stage models? Indeed, … Continue reading

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The Nuts and Bolts of Evolution, II: The Limits of Darwinian Explanations

Having discussed some of the basic aspects of Darwinian (biological) evolution, I want to talk about why Darwinian processes do not work in explaining sociocultural evolution; at least not the vast majority of evolution today. Undoubtedly, human societies and numerous propensities like a tendency towards … Continue reading

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The Nuts and Bolts of Evolution, I: Darwinian Processes

Some initial caveats: I am by no means an expert in biological evolution, nor would I claim to be (for an easy-to-approach expert work on the ABCs, see Mayr 2002). It is imperative that sociologists become familiar with the principles, … Continue reading

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