Cultural evolution and units of selection in replicating text

Title: Cultural evolution and units of selection in replicating text
Format: Journal Article
Publication Date: September 1997
Published In: Journal of Theoretical Biology
Description: The use of biological models and metaphors in studies of culture has a long and checkered history. While there are many superficial similarities between biological and cultural evolution, attempts to pin down such analogies have not been wholly successful. One limiting factor may be a lack of empirical evidence that the basic assumptions of the evolutionary model are met within a cultural system. We argue that a focus on the detection and description of the units of selection is an essential first step in constructing any evolutionary model. In this paper we outline the necessary connection between units of selection and evolution, describe the properties of a unit of selection, and introduce an empirical method for the detection of putative units of selection in a model cultural system: discourse within NetNews, a discussion system on the Internet.
Ivan Allen College Contributors:
Citation: Journal of Theoretical Biology. 188. Issue 1. 79 - 87. ISSN 0022-5193. DOI 10.1006/jtbi.1997.0460.
  • Information and Communications Technologies for Development
  • International Diffusion and Innovation in IT
Related Departments:
  • Center for International Strategy, Technology, and Policy
  • School of International Affairs