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Evolutionary and Neo-Evolutionary Theories: Necessities and Possibilities

Class: Political Culture and Social Change

Anette Hansen

on 20 March 2013

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Transcript of Evolutionary and Neo-Evolutionary Theories: Necessities and Possibilities

Gradual Development
Embetterment Evolution and Progress Lamarck: Species slow adaption to environment
Darwin: Natural selection, fight for survival Evolutionist Theory Theories on Evolution:
Lamarck & Darwin August Comte: The Law of Progress
Coined term "Sociology"
Developed the modern style of Positivism
Had a Lamarckian perception on evolution August Comte A scientific understanding of
social order and social change necessary to create peace and prosperity Social Structures and human culture cannot be reduced to purely biological processes Neo-Evolutionist Theory Sahlins & Service:
General Adaptive Capacity Smelser:
Uneven Structural Change The process of structural differentiation
Care: from Family & kinship
to Non-family institutions Exaggeration the contrast with the past
Oversimplifying earlier writers

-Focus: "Third World" countries in Africa & Asia
-Analysis: Political rather than social or cultural Evolutionary and Neo-Evolutionary Theories: Necessity and Possibility Professor: K. J. Hong
Presenter: Anette Hansen Trevor Noble Political Culture and Social Change Content: Evolution and Progress
August Comte: The Law of Progress
Herbert Spencer: Survival of the Fittest
A Selection of Neo-Evolutionists:
Sahlins and Service: General Adaptive Capacity
Smelser: Uneven Structural Change
Parsons: Structural Differentiation
Rostow: The Stages of Economic Growth Charles Darwin's challenged the biblical creation myth Origin of Species The idea of societal progress
-more acceptable Herbert Spencer: Survival of the Fittest
Became editor of at age 28
Coined "Survival of the Fittest"
Had a Darwinist perception on evolution Herbert Spencer August Comte SOCIOLOGY The development of biological and medical sciences The advent of the social sciences (particularly sociology) Studies of metaphysical speculations or religious moralizing Study of the inanimate world:
Astronomy, physical and chemical science The Evolution of Science Sociology & Positivism Social Statics Social Dynamics Social Nature of Man
Laws governing social order
family patterns,
the state Law of social evolution:
The Law of Three Stages Stage 1: Human thought dominated by the Supernatural Religious ideas through: Fetishism, polytheism & monotheism Stage 2: Abstract principles of Philosophical Destiny Stage 3: Factual, scientific knowledge Priests & Warriors Lawyers & Theologians Scientists & Engineers Inevitable Development Contributions by Comte Coined the term 'Altruism'
'Cerebral Hygiene'
Founded Positivism
Inspired many through
'Order and Progress' But.. Scientistic rather then scientific? Summary Part 1 1: The evolution of human thought as an endogenous
A consensus to be reached at the final stage.
2: Inevitable societal progress from the Theological to
the Positive era
A historicist theory
3: Sociological realist: All human society or mankind
as the subject of change Summary Part 2 4: Idealist: The dominant ideas of the era shaped the
social structures and patterns of domination

5. Ideological rather than objective

6. Rationalist argumentation
(Despite influence from David Hume) August Comte:
A Summary The Economist ..The whole is greater than the sum of its parts Common to all:
The law of evolution The Law of Evolution Everything evolving from Uniformity To Heterogeneity The Law of Evolution 2 The 'inherent instability of homogeneous'

Undifferentiated diffused matter -> organized into more complex and stable structures The evolution of societies:
From Uniform to Differentiated Militant Societies Industrial Societies Compulsory Coordination
Obedience, discipline, loyalty, faith Voluntaristic Cooperation
Respect for others, trustworthiness, initiative, independence Evolution of Society (i) Simple Societies - The Family Unit

(ii) Compound Societies - The Clan

(iii) Doubly Compound Societies - The Tribe

(iv) Trebly Compound Societies - The Nation Hierarchy of Social Types

Laissez-faire: The most efficient people survive through competition
Internal competition regulated by morality, law and enlightened self-interest
'Survival of the fittest' between and within societies
Moral consideration could possibly save the idle/chronically sick/stupid/crippled etc Spencer, Darwin & Survival 1: Are the survivors really the fittest?
The most evolved are not the only survivors from the past
2: The problem of circularity
The argument is
justified by its own
3: Changing necessities
Fittest before
-but not anymore Critics Situational Fitness Darwin/Wallace:
Situational Fitness - What best matches the requirements of the occasion .....Their adaption may even become a handicap Societal progress neither linear nor continuing
-but with a progressive tendency? Summary Part 1 1. Changes happens within successful societies
in competition

2. A linear progression in history:
From Uniformity to Heterogeneity

3. Sociological realism: Society's evolutionary
dynamics as main focus Summary Part 2 4. The complexity of the societies'
structural form result in their different characters.
With survival as the evolutionary imperative, Spencer's assumptions can be seen as modified materialism

5. The unity of all the sciences
Theory used for justification of inequality

6. Rationalist approach to evolution Weaknesses 1. The poverty of his utilitarian motivational
theory for the individual actors in the social process
2. Lack of theoretical specificity in causal
explanations of the pattern of historical change Two tendencies: Sahlins & Service
Rostow Rostow:
The Stages of Economic Growth For economic growth:
Investment must exceed population growth

Rostow looks at societal factors such as culture and conflict in relations to economy Re-emphasize the distinction between
1) The evolution of particular societies
2) The evolutionary history of mankind

Cultural diffusion as a mean of
spreading great discoveries
Late developers can skip steps on the
evolutionary ladder
Avoidance of evolution with progress -
i.e. Westernization Neo-Evolutionists.... Social Evolution defined as: the increase in 'the general adaptive capacity of society' -by its relative autonomy from environmental forces
-by more varied and effective usage of resources
-by the ability to dominate & replace less advances types Frictional difficulties of integration:
Lack of capacity Parsons:
Structural Differentiation Lamarckian view of society: Modernization
as a result of adjustments
Influenced by Tönnie (Chptr. 5) Ascription Achievement Parentage
Religion What you make yourself
(Examinations etc) Modernization reduces ascription,
and fosters achievements ..Thus, evolutionary social change equals a change in social values Parson's Evolutionary Scheme (p.62) Primitive -> Intermediate society
Production of written records
Intermediate society -> Modernity
Systematization of law and administration Mass literacy - A single 'Modern World System' Parsons
Neo-Evolutionary Theories Change is exogenous, a process of social diffusion
Conflict as a possible side-effect of change
A strong element of historicism at the abstract level of discussion
Neo-evolutionist theories as sociologically realist and idealist through their focus on cultural values for social change Note: Traditional religious & family values as an asset 5 Stages of Economic Growth stimulus from
the outside Internal change
in response 1. 2. Thanks for your time!
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