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Sociology as a Darwinian Science?

Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Sociol. | doi: 10.3389/fsoc.2019.00006

Does sociology have any choice but to be evolutionary?

  • 1School of Media, Communication and Sociology, University of Leicester, United Kingdom

Historically, over the long run, evolutionary approaches have struggled in sociology with great effort being expended (sometimes purely rhetorically rather than scientifically) to criticise them or, even more radically, to rule them out of court altogether as “not sociological”. This approach implies that such approaches are optional to the sociological project. By contrast, this article takes an opposing position and argues that sociology has no real alternative to evolutionary approaches in at least two key areas. First and foremost, we need an approach that can explain social organisation without relying on implausible levels of deliberation (while still compatible with the, sometimes successful, exercise of reason). Secondly, we need an approach that is “properly” historical in being able to engage with both macro (structural) change and genuine novelty. This article not only discusses what is needed and why but also illustrates how such an approach could work using an Agent-Based Model (hereafter ABM).

Keywords: Evolutionary sociology, Functionalism, Selectionism, Organisational ecology, Agent-based model (ABM), genuine novelty, Historical change, rationality

Received: 03 Aug 2018; Accepted: 22 Jan 2019.

Edited by:

Károly Takács, Hungarian Academy of Sciences (MTA), Hungary

Reviewed by:

Doug Marshall, University of South Alabama, United States
Giangiacomo Bravo, Linnaeus University, Sweden  

Copyright: © 2019 Chattoe-Brown. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Edmund Chattoe-Brown, School of Media, Communication and Sociology, University of Leicester, Leicester, LE1 7JA, East Midlands, United Kingdom,