Social Learning and Innovation in Contemporary Hunter-Gatherers

Evolutionary and Ethnographic Perspectives

  • Hideaki Terashima
  • Barry S.  Hewlett

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xviii
  2. Evolutionary Approaches to Social Learning: Modes and Processes of Social Learning

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 17-17
    2. Zachary H. Garfield, Melissa J. Garfield, Barry S. Hewlett
      Pages 19-34
    3. Barry S. Hewlett, Richard E. W. Berl, Casey J. Roulette
      Pages 35-45
    4. Victoria Reyes-García, Sandrine Gallois, Kathryn Demps
      Pages 47-60
    5. Samuel Jilo Dira, Barry S. Hewlett
      Pages 71-81
  3. Situated Learning and Participatory Approaches to Social Learning

  4. Play, Social Learning, and Innovation

  5. Innovation and Cumulative Culture

  6. Cognitive and Social Development Approaches to Social Learning

  7. Social Learning and Other Approaches to Understanding the Replacement of Neanderthals by Modern Humans

About this book


This is the first book to examine social learning and innovation in hunter–gatherers from around the world. More is known about social learning in chimpanzees and nonhuman primates than is known about social learning in hunter–gatherers, a way of life that characterized most of human history. The book describes diverse patterns of learning and teaching behaviors in contemporary hunter–gatherers from the perspectives of cultural anthropology, ecological anthropology, biological anthropology, and developmental psychology. The book addresses several theoretical issues including the learning hypothesis which suggests that the fate of Homo sapiens and Neanderthals in the last glacial period might have been due to the differences in learning ability. It has been unequivocally claimed that social learning is intrinsically important for human beings; however, the characteristics of human learning remain under a dense fog despite innumerable studies with children from urban–industrial cultures. Controversy continues on problems such as: do hunter–gatherers teach? If so, what types of teaching occur, who does it, how often, under what contexts, and so on. The book explores the most basic and intrinsic aspects of social learning as well as the foundation of innovative activities in everyday activities of contemporary hunter–gatherer people across the earth. The book examines how hunter-gatherer core values, such as gender and age egalitarianism and extensive sharing of food and childcare are transmitted and acquired by children. Chapters are grouped into five sections: 1) theoretical perspectives of learning in hunter–gatherers, 2) modes and processes of social learning in hunter–gatherers, 3) innovation and cumulative culture, 4) play and other cultural contexts of social learning and innovation, 5) biological contexts of learning and innovation. Ideas and concepts based on the data gathered through an intensive fieldwork by the authors will give much insight into the mechanisms and meanings of learning and education in modern humans.


Child development Contemporary hunter-gatherers Cultural transmission Innovation of humans Learning strategy Neanderthal to human Residential and logistical mobility Skill transfer early humans Social learning Social learning early humans Social learning Neanderthals

Editors and affiliations

  • Hideaki Terashima
    • 1
  • Barry S.  Hewlett
    • 2
  1. 1.Faculty of Humanities and SciencesKobe Gakuin UniversityKobeJapan
  2. 2.Department of AnthropologyWashington State UniversityVancouverUSA

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer Japan 2016
  • Publisher Name Springer, Tokyo
  • eBook Packages Social Sciences
  • Print ISBN 978-4-431-55995-5
  • Online ISBN 978-4-431-55997-9
  • Series Print ISSN 2365-063X
  • Series Online ISSN 2365-0648
  • Buy this book on publisher's site