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Social Ecology and Evolutionism
J. Hughes   Feb 5, 1994   Changesurfer.com  

Taught at the University of Chicago in 1994

 

Goals: This course is an introduction to the ecological and evolutionary concepts which have influenced the social sciences. After introducing these concepts, the course will first discuss the different units of selection in the social order. Sociobiological theories will be compared to those which posit that selection takes place at the level of software, e.g. norms and ideas. We will next explore the writings of classic University of Chicago sociologists who attempted to interpret the life-cycles of cities and local economies with ecological tools. We will thenturn to the modern organizational sociologists who explain the growth and decline of organizational populations.

In the second half of the course we will explore the notion of "society as body," starting with the ideological uses of this concept. Then we will explore the ideas of anthropological and sociological evolutionists and functionalists, such Herbert Spencer and Talcott Parsons, and the underlying functionalist assumptions of Marxism. In the last week we will examine the notion that the world is an integrated system, governed by its own organic laws, and how this idea has struck a chord with modern political movements.

Requirements: A mid-term 5 page paper, and a final 10-15 page paper.

 

Texts at Seminary Coop (under Hughes)

Kaufman, Howard. 1985. Time, Chance and Organizations: Natural Selection in a Perilous Environment. Chatham House.

Waldrop, M. Mitchell. 1993. Complexity: The Emerging Science at the Edge of Order and Chaos. Simon and Schuster.

Schelling, Thomas. 1978. Micromotives and Macrobehaviors. Norton.

Kelly, Kevin. 1994. Out of Control: The Biology of Machines, Social Systems and the Economic World. http://www.newciv.org/worldtrans/outcontrol.html

Nitecki, Mathew and Doris Nitecki, eds. 1993. Evolutionary Ethics. SUNY Press.

Kinko’s Packet

Introduction to Social Ecology Concepts

 
  • Jan. 4: Basic Ecological and Evolutionary Concepts I
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  • Jan. 6: Basic Ecological and Evolutionary Concepts II
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  • Jan 11: Basic Ecological and Evolutionary Concepts III
  • Hardware and Software

     
  • Jan 13: Biology and Ecology of Mind
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  • Jan 18: Biology and Ecology of Mind II
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  • Jan 20: Collective Behavior
  • Organizational Ecology and Evolution

     
  • Jan 25: Mid-Term Paper Proposal Deadline
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  • Jan 25: Chicago’s School of Human Ecology
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  • Jan 27: Organizational Ecology I
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  • Feb 1: Organizational Ecology II
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  • Feb 3: Organizational Ecology III : Kaufman
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  • Feb 8: Meta-Organizational Ecology IV: Economic Eco-Systems
  • Social Organicism and Early Sociological Evolutionism

    Feb. 10: Mid-Term Paper Due

     
  • Feb. 10: Ideology and Social Structure
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  • Feb. 15: Unilinearity and Teleology
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  • Feb. 17: Marxism and Evolutionism
  • Modern Social Ecology

     
  • Feb. 22 Final Paper Topic Deadline
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  • Feb. 22: Parsons and Functionalism
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  • Feb. 24: Systems Theory
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  • March 1: Materialist Evolutionism
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  • March 3: Global Systems
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  • March 8: Concluding
  • March 10: Final Paper

    Basic Evolutionary Concepts

    Jan. 4: Basic Ecological and Evolutionary Concepts I

    Topics to be discussed: teleology, units of selection, feedback, hypercycles, autopoesis, boundary specification, hierarchies of control, punctuated equilibria, determinism-probablilism, generalism-specialism.

    Jan. 6: Basic Ecological and Evolutionary Concepts II

    Complexity Introductions

               
    bulletWhole Systems Page
    bulletSystems Glossary Page
    bulletComplex Systems Page
    bulletSanta Fe Institute Page
    bulletComplexity Conference
    bulletSocial Evolution and Human Society in the Principia Cybernetica

    Readings

    Meadows, Donella. 1982. "Whole Earth Models and Systems," CoEvolution Quarterly (Summer) : 98-108.

    Laszlo, E. 1987. Evolution: The Grand Synthesis "Chapter 1: The Rise of the Evolutionary Paradigm," and "Chapter 2: Foundations of the Grand Synthesis" :9-49.

    Seeley, T. 1989. "The Honey Bee Colony as a Superorganism." Am Scientist 77(Nov-Dec): 546-553.

    Micklin, Michael. 1984 "The Ecological Perspective in the Social Sciences: A Comparative Overview," Sociological Human Ecology, eds. M. Micklin and H. Choldin. Westview Press.

    Recommended

    Buss, Leo. "The Evolution of Hierarchical Organization," The Evolution of Individuality. Princeton University Press : 171-197.

    Varela, Francesco. 1984. "Two principles for self-organization," in Self-Organization and the Management of Social Systems. editted by H. Ulrich and GJB Probst.

     

    Jan 11: Basic Ecological and Evolutionary Concepts III

    Dawkins, Richard. 1989. "Universal Parasitism and the Co-Evolution of Extended Phenotypes." Whole Earth Rev 62(Spring):90-100.

    Sanderson, Stephen. 1990. Social Evolutionism: A Critical History. Basil Blackwell. "Chapter 1: The Nature of Social Evolutionism"  :1-9.

    Gould, Stephen Jay. 1992. "The Confusion over Evolution," NY R of Books (Nov 19): 47-54.

    Kelley, Kevin. 1992. "Deep Evolution: The Emergence of Post-Darwinism," Whole Earth Review (Fall) : 4- 20.

    Weintraub, Pamela. 1992. "Natural Direction: Extraordinary new findings suggest that life forms may literally direct their own evolution," Omni (May) : 35-110.

    Oliwenstein, Lori. 1993. "Onward and Upward," Discover (June): 22-23.

    Arthur, W. Brian. 1993. "Why do things become more complex,"  Scientific American (May): 144.

    Hardware and Software

    Jan 13: Biology and Ecology of Mind

     
  • Evolution and Ethics On-Line and in print
  • Topics: sociobiology; why did consciousness evolve?; is consciousness a stochastic process?; units and processes of cognitive/cultural selection; cultural Lamarckianism and conscious adaption; conscious modification of the environment; the market as evolved order; the evolution of cooperation; "scientific revolutions," punctuated equilibria and post-structuralist anti-teleology.

    The Ascent of Mind http://weber.u.washington.edu/~wcalvin/bk5ch4.html

    Minsky, Marvin. "Society of Mind," Whole Earth Review (Summer) : 4- 10.

    Bateson, Gregory. 1979. Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity, "The Stochastic Processes," :99-142.

    Holland, John H. 1992. "Complex Adaptive Systems," Daedalus (Spring) : 17-30.

    Crook, John. 1980. The Evolution of Human Consciousness. Clarendon. "Chapter 2: On the Biological Function of Mind," 14-36; "Chapter 3: The Social Environment and Its Evolution," 37-59.

    Recommended

    Sanderson, Stephen. 1990. Social Evolutionism: A Critical History. Basil Blackwell. "Chapter 8: Evolutionary Biology and Social Evolution"  :169-208

    Jan 18: Biology and Ecology of Mind II

    Memetics

     
     
    bulletMemetics Page http://www.uio.no/~mwatz/memetics/index.html
    bulletMemetics Bib http://www.xs4all.nl/~hingh/alt.memetics/faq.html

    Readings

    Dawkins, Richard. 1976. "Memes: The New Replicators," The Selfish Gene. Oxford University Press. : 203-215.

    Grant, Glenn. "A Memetic Lexicon," boing-boing : 4- 7.

    Axelrod, Robert and Douglas Dion. 1988. "The Further Evolution of Cooperation," Scientific American (Dec 9): 1385-1389.

    Bass, Thomas. 1993. "Forgiveness Math," Discover (May) : 63-67.

    Recommended

    Axelrod, Robert. 1986. "An Evolutionary Approach to Norms." APSR 80(4)

    Toulmin, Stephen. 1976. "Ethics and `Social Functioning’: The Organic Theory Reconsidered," Science, Ethics and Medicine, eds. H.T. Engelhardt and Daniel Callahan : 195-217.

    Jan 20: Collective Behavior

    Schelling, Thomas. 1978. Micromotives and Macrobehaviors. 11-133.

    Organizational Ecology and Evolution

    Jan 25: Mid-Term Paper Proposal Deadline

    Jan 25: Chicago’s School of Human Ecology

    McKenzie, R. D. 1982. "The Scope of Human Ecology." Urban Patterns: Studies in Human Ecology. (rev. ed.), ed. George Theodorson. 30-36. Univ. Park: PA State Univ. Press.

    Hawley, Amos. 1958. "Human Ecology." Internat. Encyclo. of the Social Sciences, 328-337.

    McKenzie, Roderick. 1923. "The Ecological Approach to the Study of Human Community," American Journal of Sociology 30(3).

    Hawley, Amos. 1944. "Ecology and Human Ecology," Social Forces 22(May): 398-405.

    Recommended

    Wirth, Louis. 1945. "Human Ecology." Amer J Sociology May:483-488.

    Park, Robert. 1936/1982. "Human Ecology." Urban Patterns: Studies in Human Ecology. ed. George Theodorson. 22-29. Univ. Park, PA: State Univ. Press.

    Jan 27: Organizational Ecology I

    Organizational Ecology Links

     
    bulletLearning Organization Page http://world.std.com/~lo

    Readings

    Simon, H.A. 1969 "The Architecture of Complexity," The Sciences of the Artificial. : 84- 118.

    Aldrich, H and J Pfeffer. 1976. "The Environments of Organizations," Ann Rev Sociology.

    Hannan, M. and J Freeman. 1977. "The Population Ecology of Organizations."  AJS 82: 929-964.

    Keeley, Michael. 1980. "Organizational Analogy: A Comparison of Organismic and Social Contract Models," ASQ (June) 337-362.

    Recommended

    Varela, F, H.R. Maturana and R. Uribe. 1974. "Autopoiesis: The organization of living systems, its characterization and a model,"  Biosystems 5: 187-196.

    Feb 1: Organizational Ecology II

    DiMaggio, Paul//Powell, Walter. 1983. "The Iron Cage Revisited: Institutional Isomorphism and Collective Rationality in Organizational Fields," ASR 48(April):147-160.

    Bidwell, Charles and John Kasarda. 1988. "A Theoretical Overview: The Organization and Its Eco-System" Structuring in Organizatons. JAI Press. : 1-33.

    Feb 3: Organizational Ecology III : Kaufman

    MacroEconomic Ecology

     
    bulletThe Death of Competition a social ecology argument for why capitalism isn’t capitalism anymore

    Readings

    Kaufman, H. 1985. Time, Chance and Organizations: Natural Selection in a Perilous Environment. Chatham House: 11-137.

    Wilford, John. 1993. "Bubbles may have speeded life’s origin’s on earth," NYT June 6: B7-9.

    Feb 8: Meta-Organizational Ecology IV: Economic Eco-Systems

    Astley, W. Graham. 1985. "The Two Ecologies: Population and Community Perspectives on Organizational Evolution" Admin Sci Q :224-241.

    Arthur, W. Brian. 1990. "Positive Feedbacks in the Economy,"  Scientific American (Feb) : 92-99.

    Waldrop, M. Mitchell. 1993. Complexity: The Emerging Science at the Edge of Order and Chaos. Simon and Schuster. pp 1-51.

    Social Organicism and Early Sociological Evolutionism

    Feb. 10: Mid-Term Paper Due
      Feb. 10: Ideology and Social Structure

    Topics: social organic imagery and political hegemony; the influence of Darwin; Spencer, Tylor, et al.; unilinear and teleological theories; Social Darwinism.

    Spencer, Herbert. 1898. "The Nature of Society," The Principles of Sociology. NY: Appleton & Co. 5pp.

    Figlio, K. 1976. "The Metaphor of Organization: an historiographical perspective on the bio-medical sciences of the early nineteenth century."  History of Sci, 14:17-53.

    Martin, Emily. 1990. "Toward an Anthropology of Immunology: The Body as Nation State," Medical Anthropology:410-426.

    Recommended

    Toulmin, Stephen. 1981. "Evolution, Adaptation and Human Understanding,"  Scientific Inquiry and the Social Sciences, eds. Brewer and Collins.

    Toulmin, Stephen. 1981. "Human Adaptation," The Philosophy of Evolution. eds. U.J. Jensen and R. Harre.

    Feb. 15: Unilinearity and Teleology

    Pareto, Vilfredo. 1935. "On the Equilibrium of the Social System," The Mind and Society, ed. by Arthur Livingston. NY: Harcourt Brace : 1288-1292.

    McIver, Robert. 1937. "The Reality of Social Evolution," Society. NY: Holt, Rinehart and Winston : 1364-1371.

    Sorokin, Pitirim. 1957. "The Principle of Immanent Change,"  Social and Cultural Dynamics. Boston: Porter Sargent : 639-646.

    Lenski, G. 1975. "History and Social Change." Amer J Sociology 82(3):548-564.

    Feb. 17: Marxism and Evolutionism

    Topics: Marxist functionalism; unilinearity in Marxist historical models; punctuated equilibria theory and Gramsci.

    Marxism and Complexity

     
    bulletMutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution by Peter Kropotkin, 1902

    Readings

    Stinchcombe, Arthur. 1968. Constructing Social Theories..  "Functional Causal Imagery," 10pp.

    Dickens, Peter. 1992. "Chapter 2: People, Nature and Social Theory," Society and Nature: Towards a Green Social Theory. Temple University Press: 18-59.

    Pittenger, Mark. 1993. American Socialists and Evolutionary Thought 1870-1920. U. of Wisconsin Press : 1-42, 64-88.

    Schubert, Glendon. 1989. "Catastrophe Theory, Evolutionary Extinction and Revolutionary Politics," The Dynamics of Evolution. Cornell Univerity Press : 248-281.

    Hawley, Amos. 1984. "Human Ecological and Marxian Theories," AJS 89(4): 904-917

    Recommended

    Gans, C. 1987. "Punctuated Equilibria and Political Science: A Neontological View." Politics and the Life Sciences 5(2):220-244.

    Sanderson, Stephen. 1990. Social Evolutionism: A Critical History. Basil Blackwell. "Chapter 4: Marxism as Evolutionism" :50-74.

    Modern Social Ecology

    Feb. 22 Final Paper Topic Deadline
    Feb. 22: Parsons and Functionalism

    Bock, Kenneth E. 1963. "Evolution, Function and Change," ASR  (April): 229-237.

    Haines, Valerie A. 1987. "Biology and Social Theory: Parsons’s Evolutionary Theme," Sociology (21)1: 19-39.

    Merton, Robert. 1957. "Manifest and Latent Functions," Social Theory and Social Structure. Free Press: 19-84.

    Luhmann, Niklas. 1986. "The autopoiesis of social systems," Sociocybernetic Paradoxes, eds. F. Geyer and J. van der Zouwen. London: Sage: 172-192.

    Recommended Readings

    Sanderson, Stephen. 1990. Social Evolutionism: A Critical History. Basil Blackwell. "Chapter 5: Evolutionary Revival" :75-102; "Chapter 6: Sociological Neo-Evolutionism" :103-130.

    Feb. 24: Systems Theory

    Bloomfield, Brian. 1986. Modelling the World. Basil Blackwell. Chapters 1-3: pp. 1-58

    Waldrop, M. Mitchell. 1993. Complexity: The Emerging Science at the Edge of Order and Chaos. Simon and Schuster: 52 - 136.

    Bailey, Kenneth. 1982. "Post-Functional Social Systems Analysis,"  Sociological Quarterly 23(Aut): 509-526.

    Lilienfeld, Robert. 1975. "Systems Theory as an Ideology," Social Research, 42(4):637-660.

    Recommended Readings

    Saviotti, P.P. 1966. "Systems Theory and Technological Change,"  Futures (Dec): 773-786.

    Richardson, George. 1991. "Chapter 3: Two Feedback Threads," Feedback Thought in Social Science and Systems Theory. University of Pennsylvania Press: 92- 168.

    March 1: Materialist Evolutionism

    Nolan, P. 1984. "External Selection and Adaptive Change: Alternative Models of Sociocultural Evolution." Sociological Theory :117-139.

    Sterman, John D. 1985. "An Integrated Theory of the Economic Long Wave," Futures (April) : 104-131.

    Boulding, Kenneth. 1989. "Punctuationism in Societal Evolution," The Dynamics of Evolution. Cornell Univerity Press : 171-186.

    Waldrop, M. Mitchell. 1993. Complexity: The Emerging Science at the Edge of Order and Chaos. Simon and Schuster: 136 - 198.

    Dickens, Peter. 1992. "Arguments within Biology," Society and Nature: Towards a Green Social Theory. Temple University Press: 91-123.

    Recommended

    Sanderson, Stephen. 1990. Social Evolutionism: A Critical History. Basil Blackwell. "Chapter 7: Anthropological Neo-Evolutionism since 1960" :131-168

    March 3: Global Systems

    SuperOrganismal Sites

     
    bulletLucifer Principle

    Readings

    Waldrop, M. Mitchell. 1993. Complexity: The Emerging Science at the Edge of Order and Chaos. Simon and Schuster: 198 - 275.

    Laszlo, Ervin. 1987. Evolution: The Grand Synthesis "Dynamics of Social Evolution" :87-109.

    Wallerstein, Immanuel. 1969. "The Rise and Future Demise of the World Capitalist System: Concepts for Comparative Analysis." Ann Rev Soc :387-415.

    Stock, Gregory. 1993. Metaman: The Merging of Humans and Machines into a Global Superorganism. Simon and Schuster : 1-91

    Recommended

    Bloomfield, Brian 1986 Modelling the World. Basil Blackwell. "Chapter 9: Simulations of Doom" :167-194

    March 8: Concluding

    Topics: the current appeal of normative social ecology theories, the postmodern crisis in ethical legitimation, and the ecology movement.

    Social Ecology as Green Anarchism

     
    bulletEco-Ideologies Page http://www.dsausa.org/ESR/EcoIdeas.html

    Gaia Hypothesis and Gaians

     
         
    bulletGaia Hypothesis http://www.ingress.com/~mkzdk/texts/gaia.html
    bulletGaiaNation http://www.envirolink.org/mkzdk/gaianation
    bulletGaiaNation2 http://www.gaialogic.org/gaianation

    Apocalyptics and the Singularity

     
           
    bulletVernor Vinge Page http://www.ugcs.caltech.edu/~phoenix/vinge.html
    bulletSingularity Page http://www.nada.kth.se/~nv91-asa/Trans/sing_page.htm
    bulletXtian EndTimes http://www.ionet.net/~wes/
    bulletRagnarok the Viking apocalypse http://www.vpm.com/greenleaf/04.htm
    bulletBuddhist Apocalypse: http://www.changesurfer.com/Bud/Begin.html

    Readings

    Anderson, Walter Truett. 1987. "Creating a BioPolitical Culture," To Govern Evolution. Harcourt, Brace and Jovanovich : 275-307.

    John McClellan "Non-Dual Ecology" Tricycle

    Waldrop, M. Mitchell. 1993. Complexity: The Emerging Science at the Edge of Order and Chaos. Simon and Schuster: 198 - End.

    Vinge, Vernor. 1993. "Technological Singularity," Whole Earth Review, Winter. pp: 88-95.

    Bookchin, Murray. 1981. "The Concept of Social Ecology," CoEvolution Quarterly. (Winter): 14-22.

    Bookchin, Murray. 1987. "Deep Ecology vs. Social Ecology."

    Bosveld, Jane. 1991. "Life According to Gaia," Omni.

    Recommended Readings

    Sanderson, Stephen. 1990. Social Evolutionism: A Critical History. Basil Blackwell. "Chapter 9: Contemporary Anti-Evolutionism"  :209-222; "Chapter 10: Comprehensive Theory" :223-228

    March 10: Final Paper Due

     

     

    James Hughes Ph.D., the Executive Director of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, is a bioethicist and sociologist who serves as the Associate Provost for Institutional Research, Assessment and Planning for the University of Massachusetts Boston. He is author of Citizen Cyborg and is working on a second book tentatively titled Cyborg Buddha. From 1999-2011 he produced the syndicated weekly radio program, Changesurfer Radio. (Subscribe to the J. Hughes RSS feed)



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