The New Evolutionary Sociology : Recent and Revitalized Theoretical and Methodological Approaches book cover
1st Edition

The New Evolutionary Sociology
Recent and Revitalized Theoretical and Methodological Approaches

ISBN 9780815387084
Published March 19, 2018 by Routledge
470 Pages 26 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

For decades, evolutionary analysis was overlooked or altogether ignored by sociologists. Fears and biases persisted nearly a century after Auguste Comte gave the discipline its name, as did concerns that its effect would only reduce sociology to another discipline – whether biology, psychology, or economics. Worse, apprehension that the application of evolutionary theory would encourage heightened perceptions of racism, sexism, ethnocentrism and reductionism pervaded.

Turner and Machalek argue instead for a new embrace of biology and evolutionary analysis. Sociology, from its very beginnings in the early 19th century, has always been concerned with the study of evolution, particularly the transformation of societies from simple to ever-more complex forms. By comprehensively reviewing the original ways that sociologists applied evolutionary theory and examining the recent renewal and expansion of these early approaches, the authors confront the challenges posed by biology, neuroscience, and psychology to distinct evolutionary approaches within sociology. They emerge with key theoretical and methodological discoveries that demonstrate the critical – and compelling – case for a dramatically enriched sociology that incorporates all forms of comparative evolutionary analysis to its canon and study of sociocultural phenomena.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: A Brief History of Evolutionary Analysis in Sociology


Chapter 2: Can Functionalism Be Saved? Toward a More Viable Form of Evolutionary Theorizing

Chapter 3: Stage-Model Theories of Societal Evolution

Chapter 4: Inter-societal Models of Societal Evolution

Chapter 5: New Forms of Ecological Theorizing in Evolutionary Sociology


Chapter 6: The Evolution of Social Behavior by Natural Selection

Chapter 7: The Rise of Sociobiology

Chapter 8: Sociobiology and Human Behavior

Chapter 9: Evolutionary Psychology and the Search for the Adapted Mind

Chapter 10: The Limitations of Darwinian Analysis

Chapter 11: New Models of Natural Selection in Socio-Cultural Evolution


Chapter 12: New Forms of Comparative Sociology: What Primates Can

Tell Sociology about Humans?

Chapter 13: In Search of Human Nature: Using the Tools of

Cross-species Comparative Analysis

Chapter 14: The Evolution of the Human Brain: Applications of Neurosociology

Chapter 15: Cross-Species Comparative Sociology

Chapter 16: Cross-Species Analysis of Megasociality

Chapter 17: Behavioral and Interpersonal Basis of Megasociality:

Evidence from Primates

Epilogue: Prospect for a New Evolutionary Sociology



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Jonathan H. Turner is 38th University Professor of the University of California System; Research Professor, University of California, Santa Barbara, and Distinguished Professor at the University of California, Riverside. He is also Director of the Institute for Theoretical Social Science, Santa Barbara, CA, USA. He is the author of hundreds of research articles and the author of more than 40 distinguished books, including most recently, The New Evolutionary Sociology (with Richard Machalek).

Richard Machalek is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of Wyoming. His work addresses the evolution of social behavior among both human and non-human species. He analyzes phenomena such as the evolution of societal complexity among both humans and the eusocial insects, the evolution of expropriative social behaviors across species lines, emergent properties of both human and nonhuman societies, the evolved human psychology implicated in reciprocity and exchange, and theoretical points of convergence and divergence between sociology and sociobiology. His publications have appeared in venues such as Sociological Theory, the American Journal of Sociology, Advances in Group Processes, Rationality and Society, Advances in Human Ecology and various encyclopedias, handbooks, and other edited volumes. He is co-editor (with Jonathan H. Turner and Alexandra Maryanski) of Handbook on Evolution and Society: Toward an Evolutionary Social Science (Routledge).


The New Evolutionary Sociology is the most recent and comprehensive treatment of the bridge between evolutionary biology and the principles of sociology.
Edward O. Wilson, University Research Professor Emeritus, Harvard University

This volume is on the cutting edge in the effort to develop explanations of human sociocultural evolution within a comparative framework that includes biology, neuroscience, non-human sociology as well as anthropology, sociology and the comparative world-systems perspective. The chapters on the emergence of non-human social complexity are original contributions that should be of interest to all scholars and students in the comparative social sciences.
Christopher Chase-Dunn, Distinguished Professor of Sociology, University of California-Riverside

Turner and Machalek offer insightful assessments of several distinctive approaches to what they call the new evolutionary sociology. These perspectives are compatible only in varying degrees, and some of them certainly have generated more coherent explanations of human social behavior. All told the volume has great merit, especially if it encourages readers to shed the blinders of disciplinary chauvinism, to pursue a serious rapprochement with relevant aspects of evolutionary biology, and to begin to realize the promise of a genuinely scientific sociology.
Timothy Crippen, Professor of Sociology, University of Mary Washington

The New Evolutionary Sociology by Turner and Machalek is clearly the best treatment available about the important and exceedingly relevant topic of human sociocultural evolution. The authors discuss in detail how sociologists have used evolutionary paradigms in a variety of different investigations. In addition, they discuss many of the challenges posed by biology and sociobiology and other disciplines. They also introduce several examples of special utility they have used in their studies of evolutionary patterns and social phenomena. Turner and Machalek are clearly the experts in evolutionary sociology. Their new book is written lucidly and authoritatively. I recommend this important book with the greatest enthusiasm.
Dudley L. Poston, Jr., Professor of Sociology, Texas A&M University