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.
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
Chapter 1: A Brief History of Evolutionary Analysis in Sociology
PART I: THE CONTINUING SOCIOLOGICAL TRADITION
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
PART II: DARWINIAN ANALYSIS AND ALTERNATIVES
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
PART III: NEW DARWINIAN APPROACHES WITHIN SOCIOLOGY
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