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Innovation in Cultural SystemsContributions from Evolutionary Anthropology$
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Michael J. O'Brien and Stephen J. Shennan

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780262013338

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262013338.001.0001

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Issues in Anthropological Studies of Innovation

Issues in Anthropological Studies of Innovation

Chapter:
(p.2) (p.3) 1 Issues in Anthropological Studies of Innovation
Source:
Innovation in Cultural Systems
Author(s):

Michael J. O’Brien

Stephen J. Shennan

Publisher:
The MIT Press
DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262013338.003.0001

This chapter reviews the role that innovation has played in the explanation of cultural phenomena from roughly the late nineteenth century to the present. It reveals that tempo and mode are only two of the myriad issues that have as yet been inadequately addressed with respect to the origin and spread of cultural innovation, yet they offer exciting entry points into the discussion. It shows that any innovation in a cultural lineage is cladogenetic, creating a new branch in an evolutionary tree. This chapter also suggests that evolutionary anthropology has made great strides in developing a body of theory that complements biological evolutionary theory as opposed to borrowing it wholesale and hoping that it contains something of value.

Keywords:   cultural innovation, tempo, mode, cultural lineage, evolutionary anthropology, biological evolutionary theory

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