The Organism-Centered Approach to Cultural Evolution

Topoi 35 (1):283-290 (2016)
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In this paper, we distinguish two different approaches to cultural evolution. One approach is meme-centered, the other organism-centered. We argue that in situations in which the meme- and organism-centered approaches are competing alternatives, the organism-centered approach is in many ways superior. Furthermore, the organism-centered approach can go a long way toward understanding the evolution of institutions. Although the organism-centered approach is preferable for a broad class of situations, we do leave room for super-organismic or sub-organismic explanations of some cultural phenomena.



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