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Sociocultural Evolution: Calculation and Contingency

ISBN: 978-1-55786-976-0
320 pages
January 1991, Wiley-Blackwell
Sociocultural Evolution: Calculation and Contingency (1557869766) cover image


Sociocultural evolution is the most important concept that has guided social science thought over the past 300 years. Throughout this time it has, however, been fiercely contested and has changed as it has slowly discarded the providential concerns that originally characterized it. This book traces the gradual development of the concept of sociocultural evolution and relates how it is currently understood, and misunderstood, to the major political and cultural debates of the present day.

The author examines, in particular, issues relating to neo-conservative socioeconomic policy and postmodernism, which he regards as the chief cultural expression of transnational capitalism. He argues that continued sociocultural development requires a greater degree of planning than ever before in human history and far more general participation in the planning process than has been possible or attempted in the past. Sociocultural Evolution will be welcomed by students of anthropology, history, and archaeology, as well as general readers interested in the concerns surrounding further technological development and social change.

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Table of Contents

Series Editor's Preface.


1. Introduction.

2. Reversing Utopia.

3. Enlightenment Evolution.

4. Romantic Reaction.

5. Racist Evolution.

6. Revolution and Solidarity.

7. Western Evolutionary Counterpoint.

8. American Neoevolutionism.

9. Evolution Attacked Again.

10. The Planning Imperative.

11. Evolution and the Future.

12. Conclusion.

Bibliographic Note.



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Author Information

Bruce Trigger is Professor of Anthropology at McGill University in Montreal. He received his PhD from Yale University and has carried out archaeological research in Egypt and the Sudan. His current interests embrace the comparative study of early civilizations and the history of archaeology. His numerous books include The Children of Aataentsic: A History of the Huron People to 1660 (1976), A History of Archaeological Thought (1989) and Early Civilizations (1993). Professor Trigger has received various awards including the Prix Leon-Gerin from the Quebec government for his sustained contributions to the social sciences.
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The Wiley Advantage

* An authoritative and controversial overview of the concept of sociocultural evolution and its relation to major contemporary political and cultural debates.
* Author is one of world's best-known and respected authorities in this field.
* Examines in particular the relationship between postmodernism and neo-conservatism.
* Presents agenda for future planning in sociocultural development.
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"Trigger writes about sociocultural evolution in clear, authoritative prose, informed by a marvelous breadth of scholarship in archaeology, anthropology and history. His historical essay stands as a powerful reminder that diverse social theorists have in common compelling issues and unsolved problems; equally, it is a vigorous tribute to the analytical and moral strengths of the Enlightenment heritage. It is a book to savor, debate, teach, and press on colleagues, students and friends alike." Professor Bruce Winterhalder, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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