sociocultural evolution

(redirected from Societal evolution)

sociocultural evolution

‘the process of change and development in human societies that results from cumulative change in their stores of cultural information available’ (Lenski and Lenski, 1970). For Lenski and Lenski, sociocultural evolution occurs on two levels:
  1. within individual societies;
  2. within the ‘world-system of societies’ in general as part of a process of intersocietal selection. Theorists such as Lenski and Lenski regard symbols as playing an analogous role (the transmission of information) within sociocultural systems and sociocultural evolution to that played by genes and NATURAL SELECTION in biological systems and biological evolution: in both processes continuity and change, variation and extinction, and innovation and selection, are evident – see also EVOLUTIONARY THEORY. Important differences between the two processes are recognized:
    1. while biological evolution is characterized by continuous differentiation and diversification (like the branching of a tree), it is characteristic of sociocultural evolution that societies merge or are eliminated, resulting in fewer rather than more societal types (differentiation, however, is an increasing feature within complex societies);
    2. in biological evolution simple species are not eliminated, but in sociocultural evolution they tend to be;
    3. in sociocultural evolution heritability involves transmission between generations which preserves useful learned behaviour, in biological evolution such acquired characteristics are not transmitted (see also LAMARCK); as a consequence, in comparison with biological evolution, sociocultural evolution is rapid and the potential exists for this to be brought under rational control.

The debate in sociology about evolutionary theory centres not so much on differences between social and biological evolution, since there is broad agreement on this. Rather debate centres on whether similarities or dissimilarities between biological and sociocultural change are regarded as uppermost. For sociocultural evolutionary theorists such as Lenski and Lenski, and some functionalist sociologists (e.g. see PARSONS, EVOLUTIONARY UNIVERSALS, NEOEVOLUTIONISM) similarities between the two mean that the term ‘evolution’ and evolutionary theory continue to have an important place in discussions of social change. For other sociologists, however, the differences between the two kinds of change are so great that continued talk of social evolution is not helpful and should be ended. see also EVOLUTIONARY SOCIOLOGY.

References in periodicals archive ?
And, while we react to societal evolution and changing tastes by delivering new tones, new textures, and new effects, change is often far too slow to keep up with new tastes and behaviors.
What strikes the reader is just how much of an in-depth account of Saudi history and societal evolution one gains from these tales, which are told with such emotion and transparency that they could be real-life accounts.
Sexuality, sexual content, and what is considered sexy is a subjective topic, often at odds with reality and societal evolution, depending on the country or community one lives in.
To the Marxist, history is the record of an irresistible societal evolution in which mankind is ineluctably advancing from capitalism to socialism, and then on to communism.
It is caused less by the writing and more by the constant witnessing and attempts to find their connection to human and societal evolution.
Have these societies passed through the formative periods when individual freedom and representative government is outcome of a societal evolution than mere imported but alien norms?
The traces of trespassers and squatters and other physical remnants left behind at the closed factories are archaeological artefacts of human behaviour and societal evolution.
Spread (PhD, London Business School, England) presents a broad theory of societal evolution that incorporates a theory of "support-bargaining" into Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection.
This stage in societal evolution is witnessing the introduction of sustainable measures, whether it be QSAS, or the Qatar National Food Security Programme.
In another computer game, Civilization, players start with a prehistoric nomad and re-create the cultural and societal evolution of humankind by harvesting natural resources, growing crops, and studying science.
Three, taking societal evolution further, does sacredness depend only upon religion or could saving the tiger or a country's constitution be something sacred tomorrow?
Sustainable energy investment and growth is the newest economic and societal evolution.

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