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The Evolution of Human Co-operation
Ritual and Social Complexity in Stateless Societies


  • Date Published: August 2017
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107180550

£ 92.99

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About the Authors
  • How do people living in small groups without money, markets, police and rigid social classes develop norms of economic and social cooperation that are sustainable over time? This book addresses this fundamental question and explains the origin, structure and spread of stateless societies. Using insights from game theory, ethnography and archaeology, Stanish shows how ritual - broadly defined - is the key. Ritual practices encode elaborate rules of behavior and are ingenious mechanisms of organizing society in the absence of coercive states. As well as asking why and how people choose to co-operate, Stanish also provides the theoretical framework to understand this collective action problem. He goes on to highlight the evolution of cooperation with ethnographic and archaeological data from around of the world. Merging evolutionary game theory concepts with cultural evolutionary theory, this book will appeal to those seeking a transdisciplinary approach to one of the greatest problems in human evolution.

    • Gives a theoretical framework to explain the emergence of social complexity in non-state societies that avoids overly reductive neo-Darwinian models
    • Offers a merger of evolutionary game theory concepts with cultural evolutionary theory
    • Will be of interest to those seeking a transdisciplinary approach to one of the greatest problems in human evolution
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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2017
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107180550
    • length: 348 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 157 x 22 mm
    • weight: 0.61kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. The evolution of human cooperation
    2. Economic anthropology of stateless societies: the rise and fall of homo economicus
    3. Conditional cooperators: the evolutionary game theory revolution
    4. The role of coercion in social theory
    5. The ritualized economy: how people in stateless societies cooperate
    6. An anthropological game theory model for the evolution of ritualized economies
    7. The evolution of ritualized economies: the archaeological evidence
    8. Epilogue: 'no beans, no Jesus'.

  • Author

    Charles Stanish, University of California, Los Angeles
    Charles Stanish is Director Emeritus of the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology and Professor of Anthropology at University of California, Los Angeles. Author of numerous articles and several books including Ancient Titicaca (2003) and Ancient Andean Political Economy (1992), he specializes in the evolution of co-operation in the premodern world and has conducted extensive fieldwork throughout South America in Peru, Bolivia and Chile.

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