Macro-evolutionary studies of cultural diversity: a review of empirical studies of cultural transmission and cultural adaptation

R Mace, F M Jordan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

57 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

A growing body of theoretical and empirical research has examined cultural transmission and adap- tive cultural behaviour at the individual, within-group level. However, relatively few studies have tried to examine proximate transmission or test ultimate adaptive hypotheses about behavioural or cultural diversity at a between-societies macro-level. In both the history of anthropology and in present-day work, a common approach to examining adaptive behaviour at the macro-level has been through correlating various cultural traits with features of ecology. We discuss some difficulties with simple ecological associations, and then review cultural phylogenetic studies that have attempted to go beyond correlations to understand the underlying cultural evolutionary processes. We conclude with an example of a phylogenetically controlled approach to understanding proximate
transmission pathways in Austronesian cultural diversity
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)402-411
Number of pages10
JournalPhilosophical Transactions B: Biological Sciences
Volume366
Issue number1563
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011

Keywords

  • cultural phylogenetics
  • cultural transmission
  • cultural evolution
  • adaptation
  • Austronesian

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