This volume begins with two chapters that draw on evolutionary sociology to advance our understanding of interpersonal processes and their role in social organization. In “The Biology and Neurology of Group Processes,” Jonathan H. Turner and Alexandra Maryanski draw on three areas of evolutionary sociology (cladistic analysis, comparative neuroanatomy, and ecological analysis) to show how understanding the selection pressures acting on the brain over millions of years can help us get a better grasp on the biologically based capacities and propensities that are involved in group processes such as role-taking and role-making. An improved understanding of these processes means better explanations of how humans create, sustain, and change social structures and culture – topics that lie at the core of sociological inquiry. At the same time, Turner and Maryanski's chapter will give sociologists much to think about and debate, as one of the main conclusions of their argument is that neurology explains human capacities to develop non-kin groups more than culture. The next chapter entitled “Sacrifice, Gratitude, and Obligation: Serial Reciprocity in Early Christianity,” by Richard Machalek and Michael W. Martin, may be seen as giving more equal explanatory weight to culture and biology in a theoretical analysis that combines a focus on cognitive processes (historically unique meanings and ideas) with evolutionary sociological insights about emotions in order to generate better explanations of complex socio-historical developments. Specifically, Machalek and Martin extend Rodney Stark's analysis of how ideas contributed to the rise of Christianity by showing how the evolved features of human emotionality related to “paying it forward” (or serial reciprocity in more formal terms) may have also played an important role in this historical process. Both chapters provide excellent examples of the value of combining multiple theoretical perspectives and paying attention to the interplay of social and biological forces.
Kalkhoff, W., Thye, S. and Lawler, E. (2012), "Preface", Kalkhoff, W., Thye, S. and Lawler, E. (Ed.) Biosociology and Neurosociology (Advances in Group Processes, Vol. 29), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. ix-xiii. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0882-6145(2012)0000029003Download as .RIS
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