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Charbonneau Mathieu | Other
2013-03-01 - 2015-02-28 | Research area: EvoDevo
Cultural Development and Cultural Evolution
In the last forty years, Darwinian theories of cultural evolution have mainly focused on the transmission patterns of cultural variants, either at a micro-evolutionary scale (dual-inheritance theory) or at a macro-evolutionary scale (cultural phylogenetics). This emphasis on transmission comes from an affinity with the modeling strategies used in population genetics and phylogenetics. From this, a research programme analogous with evolutionary biology has been suggested to synthesize the social sciences into an evolutionary framework. However, clearly absent from that scheme is a study of cultural development serving as an analogous cultural science of Evo-Devo. Nevertheless, implicit in these theories lies an underexplored developmental component. On the one hand, the modeling strategies borrowed from population genetics are based on the life-cycle of human organisms, thus construing cultural development as the development and sequential enculturation of the socializing organism. On the other hand, the analogy between the ideational notion of culture and genotype/phenotype relationship suggests that cultural development should be understood as the processes by which cultural products (behaviors, artifacts and institutions) are produced by the cultural information transmitted from one individual to another. According to this reading, investigating cultural development would consist not so much in examining how social organisms develop but rather in explaining the neurocognitive processes, sensory-motor feedback loops, and behavioral sequences by which artifacts and institutions are produced and maintained. My post-doctoral project aims at elucidating how cultural development may be integrated in cultural evolution studies and to examine whether a cultural analog to EvoDevo makes sense and, if so, what kind of explanatory benefit it would offer. I'm also interested in clarifying the theoretical relationships between both perspective of cultural development (development of the socializing organism, development of the cultural object), the manner by which they can be integrated into a Darwinian framework of cultural evolution, and to determine if both interpretation can be complementary to one another and, if so, how. Personal homepage of Mathieu Charbonneau: