Evolution, Agency, and Sociology
Two major difficulties stand in the way of an evolutionary analysis of human culture: the large number of adaptively redundant or even maladaptive cultural traits, and the presence of agency, choice, and design in cultural evolution. Darwin saw organisms as active participants in evolution; their search for the use of inherited traits and environmental resources during their lifetime was as important as the genetic transmission of its results. Combining the lived and inherited part of evolution suggests that culture is shaped by inheritance, but also by the experimental, redundancy- and design-producing adaptation during the individual's life cycle. A model of evolution that combines the genetic and generative aspects of adaptation provides much better access to the complexity of human cultural behavior and to the role of organisms as agents in evolutionary processes.
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