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Cultural EvolutionSociety, Technology, Language, and Religion$
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Peter J. Richerson and Morton H. Christiansen

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780262019750

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262019750.001.0001

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Long-Term Trajectories of Technological Change

Long-Term Trajectories of Technological Change

(p.143) 8 Long-Term Trajectories of Technological Change
Cultural Evolution

Stephen Shennan

The MIT Press

The study of technology is a field in which generalized evolutionary ideas have been current for many years. However, when we start trying to implement a cultural evolutionary approach more rigorously, it turns out to be more complex than usually supposed. One of the important benefits of taking a cultural evolutionary approach is that it goes beyond relatively simple ideas of competition and technological improvement, and introduces a range of other forces whose impact is not often considered. In the case of technology, the entities that are the subject of variation, inheritance, and selection processes are technological lineages, recipes for techniques, routines, and practices linked by ancestor–descendant relationships. To understand them, we must first address histories of the technologies themselves before we can examine the histories of the human populations through which they are transmitted, which may depend at least partly on the histories of technologies. A number of examples of technological innovation and transmission are examined to illustrate the variety of factors affecting them. Published in the Strungmann Forum Reports Series.

Keywords:   technology, technological lineages, recipes for techniques, routines, cultural evolutionary approach

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