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Interacting networks in social landscapes: a devo-evo approach to socialcultural dynamics

Jablonka, Eva (2024) Interacting networks in social landscapes: a devo-evo approach to socialcultural dynamics. Human Development, 67 (5-6). 288 - 304. ISSN 0018-716X

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Identification Number: 10.1159/000533164


Can the study of epigenetics, physiology, and cognitive science contribute to the investigation and understanding of social-cultural systems while respecting the autonomy of social research? I present a developmental system theory (DST) approach, which takes the unit of analysis to be the system of self-sustaining interactions among multiple biological, psychological, and social resources. On this view, the cybernetic architecture of the networks that constitute the system channels development so that different trajectories lead to convergent end states, accounting for the system's developmental stability as well as shedding light on the conditions that lead to departures from typical outcomes. Based on previous work, which is extended here, I suggest that Waddington's epigenetic landscape metaphor, which was built to illustrate the relationship between genetic networks and embryological development, is a useful tool for thinking about the temporal dynamics of social systems, capturing some important features of social stability and change at different scales and levels of social organization. I discuss five social systems using the landscape metaphor and explore the implications of this DST approach for investigating the relations between sociocultural development and evolution.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2023 The Author(s)
Divisions: LSE
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Date Deposited: 12 Mar 2024 08:31
Last Modified: 18 Jul 2024 07:51

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