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Sociocultural Evolution: Calculation and Contingency

Sociocultural Evolution: Calculation and Contingency

Bruce G. Trigger

ISBN: 978-1-557-86976-0

Jan 1991

320 pages

Out of stock



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.

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.



"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
* 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.