Constructivism and selection: two opposed theories of social evolution

  • C.R. Hallpike
Part of the Neue Bibliothek der Sozialwissenschaften book series (NBDS)


This paper examines why natural selection is incapable of explaining social evolution, which instead requires a constructivist model. Natural selection reduces sociocultural systems to populations of traits, requires variation and selection to have distinct origins, and treats adaptation as the main explanatory principle. Constructivism, however, denies these assumptions as inappropriate to sociocultural systems. Here, variation and selection are linked together, and development occurs through an accumulation of various institutions. Because competition may often be low, these may be adaptively mediocre but, especially in combination, may still be the basis of further evolution. Necessary conditions for development include social size, sedentism, differentiated groups, and political centralisation. Social traditions, however, have core principles which may inhibit or facilitate evolutionary development.


Social Evolution Political Authority Cultural Trait Political Centralisation Adaptive Explanation 
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© Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.TetburyUK

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