Magazine
Latest Issue

Socialising Darwin

From linguistics and psychology to anthropology, social scientists are applying neo-Darwinian insights to explain human behaviour. So why are sociologists resisting the trend? WG Runciman shows how the concepts of variation, replication and selection can help to explain social life

By W G Runciman   April 1998

In 1995, I contributed a neo-Darwinian paper to a conference held at the University of Essex to mark the retirement of David Lockwood, the leading British sociologist. The paper, “Social Integration and System Integration in the Theory of Social Selection,” was subsequently submitted at the organisers’ request to the British Sociological Association’s journal Sociology -only to earn me my first rejection from an academic journal for more than 25 years. My immediate reaction was to offer the same journal a carefully revised, unpolemical paper entitled “The Selectionist Paradigm and its Implications for Sociology.” This was accepted as “sophisticated” and “challenging.”…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to letters@prospect-magazine.co.uk

More From Prospect