Human Nature and the Evolution of Society


Stephen K. Sanderson

First Edition • February 4, 2014 • 464 pages


Print ISBN: 9780813349367 • $64.00 USD$56.50 CAN

Ebook ISBN: 9780813349374 • $39.99 USD$45.99 CAN

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If evolution has changed humans physically, has it also affected human behavior? Drawing on evolutionary psychology, sociobiology, and human behavioral ecology, Human Nature and the Evolution of Society explores the evolutionary dynamics underlying social life.

In this introduction to human behavior and the organization of social life, Stephen K. Sanderson discusses traditional subjects like mating behavior, kinship, parenthood, status-seeking, and violence, as well as important topics seldom included in books of this type, especially gender, economies, politics, foodways, race and ethnicity, and the arts. Examples and research on a wide range of human societies, both industrial and nonindustrial, are integrated throughout. With chapter summaries of key points, thoughtful discussion questions, and important terms defined within the text, the result is a broad-ranging and comprehensive consideration of human society, thoroughly grounded in an evolutionary perspective.


Stephen K. Sanderson taught for thirty-one years in the department of sociology and anthropology at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and he is currently a visiting professor of sociology at the University of California-Riverside. He specializes in evolution and human behavior, sociological and anthropological theory, and long-term social evolution. He is the author or editor of twelve books , including The Evolution of Human Sociality: A Darwinian Conflict Perspective and Evolutionism and Its Critics. He a member of the American Anthropological Association and the Human Behavior and Evolution Society.

Preface
Notes on Dating

1. Theoretical Foundations
Darwinian Social Science Redux
Darwinian Foundations
Sociobiology and Evolutionary Psychology
Qualifers
The Contents of Human Nature
Conclusions
Summary
Questions for Discussion
References and Notes

2. Beginnings
African Genesis, African Exodus
Big Brains
The Language Instinct
The Cultural Big Bang
Conclusions
Summary
Questions for Discussion
References and Notes

3. Getting a Living
To Hunt and to Gather
Ancient Affluence?
First Agriculture
Tillers of the Soil
Herders of Beasts
Merchants and Traders
Capitalists Small and Large
Capitalists By Nature?
Conclusions
Summary
Questions for Discussion
References and Notes

4. Foodways
What’s For Dinner?
Sweets and Meats
Strategic Foraging
Sacred Cows and Abominable Pigs
The Milky Way
Summary
Questions for Discussion
References and Notes

5. Finding Mates
Incest Avoidance and the Incest Taboo
Sexual Selection
Strategic Sex
Mate Choice
Dominant Males Litter the Landscape
The Straight and the Gay
Summary
Questions for Discussion
References and Notes

6. Family and Marriage
Kith and Kin
Father’s Kin or Mother’s?
One Wife or Many?
One Husband or Many?
Summary
Questions for Discussion
References and Notes

7. Parenthood
Maternal Instincts
A Child’s-Eye View
Many Children or Few?
Sons or Daughters?
Infanticidal Deeds
Summary
Questions for Discussion
References and Notes

8. Gender
Gender Everywhere
Learning about Gender
Gender Economies
Men, Women, and Work
Conclusions
Summary
Questions for Discussion
References and Notes

9. Status and Wealth
Status Striving
Status Striving Unleashed
Status and Wealth in Modern Times
Status Striving Run Amok
Conclusions
Summary
Questions for Discussion
References and Notes

10. Power and Politics
Struggling for Power
Societies Without Bosses
Chiefs on the Horizon
Kings, Emperors, and Oriental Despots
Conclusions
Summary
Questions for Discussion
References and Notes

11. Violence
Murder, He Wrote
Getting in Touch with Our Inner Chimp
Killing Enemies: The Small Scale
Killing Enemies: The Large Scale
Summary
Questions for Discussion
References and Notes

12. Race and Ethnicity
The Origins of Races
Racism Then and Now
Ethnic Primordialism
Summary
Questions for Discussion
References and Notes

13. Religion
Spirits, Gods, and Ritual Specialists
Shamans and Healers
Many Gods or One?
Why are People Religious?
Religion in Its Socioecological Context
The New Atheism
Summary
Questions for Discussion
References and Notes

14. Arts
What are the Arts?
Visual Art
Literature
Music
Conclusions
Summary
Questions for Discussion
References and Notes

Epilogue: Evolution and Existence
Bibliography
Technical Terms
Index

“The book is written in an accessible language, and is well edited, with an index and a glossary for more technical terms, and handy summaries and questions for discussion at the end of each chapter. . . . This is an excellent choice: escaping from excessive technicality and jargon, Sanderson helps to popularize evolutionary psychology in a correct way, while maintaining a solid scientific basis.” —Science & Education

“Sanderson’s new book provides a great service, surveying and summarizing a vast quantity of research on evolution and human behavior in a way that will be accessible to general readers and students while also engaging and enlightening experts in the field. One of the book’s many strengths is the way it situates current research on human nature within the broader contexts of cross-cultural research and human paleontology. In addition to covering such standard topics as mating and parenting, Sanderson also ventures where few other authors of books like this dare to go, exploring such topics as language, religion, sexual orientation, and racism. Although I may quibble with some of the positions that Sanderson stakes out on these issues, I applaud him for making his views clear, a refreshing contrast with the noncommittal approach taken by so many textbook authors.” —Lee Cronk, Rutgers University

“A cross-culturally rich treatment of various domains of the human experience that sacrifices neither breadth nor depth. Treating debates within each topic fairly, it is notably inviting to critical engagement; this is one of many reasons it should be required reading.” —Benjamin Purzycki, University of British Columbia

“This book does an excellent job demonstrating the utility of evolutionary theory in social science in a way that students can easily understand.” —Jennie R. Brown, Franklin Pierce University

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