Sociobiology can be defined as the scientific study of biological characteristics regarding social behavior of living things. The most common phenomenon associated with sociobiology is natural selection (Rodgers 818). Popularly known as Darwinian Theory, natural selection involves the evolution of an organism to adapt to environmental alterations (Rodgers 821). Numerous scientists advocate for the idea that natural selection plays an essential role in molding human culture (Rodgers 818). Research has indicated that natural selection, a natural phenomenon, impacts culture by the production of cultural transmission mechanisms. It is, however, worth noting that natural selection may also fail to register significant constraints on other cultural behaviors (Rodgers 818).According to Rodgers, sociobiology is only instrumental in influencing culture if the fitness theme of natural selection is upheld (820). This implies that culture is only useful if it serves an adaptive purpose since human culture itself is an adaptation. To comprehend the usefulness of sociobiology on culture, Rodgers proposes that it is necessary to evaluate evolutionary forces affecting learning mechanisms (821). He further explains that learning occurs in two ways, that is, individually and socially (Rodgers 821). As individuals evolve they learn more about others, situations and the environment resulting in cultural transmission. This knowledge consequently effects them to adjust certain aspects of their culture such as diet to fit in.
However, Rodgers acknowledges that the dynamics of cultural evolution are complex since other groups of scientist regard biological effects on culture as “too weak to be significant” (Rodgers 819). The scientists’ champion that evolutionary biology has a negligible connection to social sciences implying that sociobiology cannot assist in comprehension of culture. Concisely, both arguments are factual in that sociobiology be both useful and non-useful in cultural understanding. Rodgers justifies this argument by elaborating that through natural selection human beings and animals yield cultural transmission mechanisms that may either be highly adaptive to the environment or weakly consistent to evolutionary models (828).
- Rogers, Alan R. “Does biology constrain culture?” American Anthropological Association, Vol. 90, no.4, 1988, pp. 819-831.