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Sociology as a Darwinian Science?

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Our knowledge of human evolution is rapidly increasing due to sequencing of the human and the chimpanzee genome, genomic studies, genome-wide association studies (GWAS), and new fossils. There is a growing evolutionary understanding of many aspects of human behavior ranging from mate choice to cooperation. In ...

Our knowledge of human evolution is rapidly increasing due to sequencing of the human and the chimpanzee genome, genomic studies, genome-wide association studies (GWAS), and new fossils. There is a growing evolutionary understanding of many aspects of human behavior ranging from mate choice to cooperation. In parallel with this, the role of evolutionary explanations gains new floor in the social sciences: this includes the evolutionary explanations of human language and studies of cultural evolution based on biological comparative methodology.

On the other hand, the neglect of evolutionary explanations of social behavior is so immense in traditional social science thinking, particularly in sociology, that these disciplines might be considered as anti-Darwinian. We think that the anti-Darwinian position is not tenable and, more importantly, it is not productive in the long run.

Accordingly, we would like to challenge the traditional view of sociology and would like to explore how an evolutionary approach can generate added value in various substantial areas of social behavior. In general, the tremendous plasticity that characterizes human social behavior makes the application of biological principles extremely difficult. What are the current perspectives of sociobiology, evolutionary sociology, and biosociology that try to cope with these difficulties and aim to bridge the gaps to sociological theories? How could evolutionary explanations help to move social science theories forward?

This Research Topic is open for empirical studies, agent-based models, and reviews with a strong analytical point of view on specific human social behaviors and resulting social phenomena that demonstrate the usefulness of evolutionary explanations in the given domain.

Contributions might cover one or more general domains of human social behavior:

- The review of cultural differences and universals of social behaviors in small-scale societies. Small-scale societies can inform social scientists about part of human social behaviors that exist independently from contextual factors of complex social life in our globalized world.
- The analysis of the limits of human social learning and socialization. How are adaptive social behaviors copied in a group, transmitted and sustained through generations?
- Any complex social behavior, which might include the establishment and maintenance of division of labor, efficient coordination, the large extent of cooperation, the establishment of regulatory systems and norms, the maintenance and adherence to social hierarchies, intergroup warfare, communication, emotions, art, and religion.

Contributions that are specific to any of these domains are expected to reflect back on the general discourse about the role of evolutionary explanations in the social sciences.


Keywords: evolutionary explanations, socialization, sociobiology, evolutionary sociology, cultural evolution


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