A recently developed academic discipline, particularly popular in the United States, based upon the tenet that all animal and human behaviour is ultimately dependent upon genetic encoding moulded through evolutionary history by the processes of selection. This all-encompassing theme, according as it does with many common-sense assertions about human nature , is sufficient to have attracted an enormous quantity of media attention. The spotlight has focused particularly on its most well-known popularizing authors: Edward O. Wilson, who coined the term itself in his Sociobiology: The New Synthesis (1975); and Richard Dawkins, author of The Selfish Gene (1976). Wilson, an American biologist and authority on ant behaviour, also provided the first definition of the new subdiscipline as ‘the systematic study of the biological basis of all social behaviour’.
In the mid-1970s sociobiology brought together into a supposedly coherent theoretical synthesis the work of previous authors on the relationship between animal and human behaviour, including Konrad Lorenz, Robert Ardrey, and Desmond Morris. It was anticipated, at least by Wilson, that all social and biological sciences would eventually be regarded merely as branches of sociobiology. Unsurprisingly, many sociologists and anthropologists have been deeply suspicious of the ultimately all-encompassing claims of this synthesis, and have drawn attention to the enormous cultural diversity of human societies-a diversity which challenges the frequently androcentric and ethnocentric assumptions of much sociobiological writing. For example, serious questions have been raised by Marshall Sahlins concerning the theoretical adequacy of sociobiology, and its claims to be a respectable academic discipline in its own right (The Use and Abuse of Biology, 1976). Many social scientists have challenged its use of scientific evidence (see, for example,, Vaulting Ambition, 1985). Others have linked the emergence of sociobiology in the United States to a conservative backlash against the radicalism of the 1960s (see, Not in our Genes, 1984).
The general response of sociobiologists to these criticisms has been gradually to admit more that is environmental into their analytical framework, whilst still retaining an adherence to the ultimate determining effect of biology, at least in any aspect of behaviour attributed with evolutionary significance. Wilson, for example, has more recently argued that ‘genes hold culture on a long leash’. Whilst some academic analysis has become relatively sophisticated and complex, the level at which much sociobiological argument is expressed (particularly in its more popular versions) remains alarmingly reductionist .
The sociobiological enterprise is now well established, being supported by a raft of academic journals (including Ethology and Sociobiology, Human Nature, and Evolutionary Anthropology), and two interdisciplinary associations (the Human Behavior and Evolution Society and the European Sociobiological Society). In a sympathetic review of the field, Fran¸ois Nielsen argues that sociobiological and evolutionary thinking will increasingly affect sociology in a number of areas, including (for example) the study of sex and gender roles, collective action, and altruism (see’Sociobiology and Sociology’, Annual Review of Sociology, 1994).

Dictionary of sociology. 2013.

Игры ⚽ Нужен реферат?

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Sociobiology — sociobiology …   Philosophy dictionary

  • Sociobiology — is a neo Darwinian and socialism synthesis of scientific disciplines that attempts to explain social behavior in all species by considering the evolutionary advantages the behaviors may have. It is often considered a branch of biology and… …   Wikipedia

  • sociobiology — sociobiology. См. социобиология. (Источник: «Англо русский толковый словарь генетических терминов». Арефьев В.А., Лисовенко Л.А., Москва: Изд во ВНИРО, 1995 г.) …   Молекулярная биология и генетика. Толковый словарь.

  • sociobiology — ☆ sociobiology [sō΄sē ō bī äl′ə jē, sō΄shēō΄bī äl′ə jē ] n. the scientific study of the biological basis for animal and human social behavior: it is based on the theory that some or much of such behavior is genetically determined sociobiological… …   English World dictionary

  • sociobiology — sociobiological /soh see oh buy euh loj i keuhl, soh shee /, adj. sociobiologically, adv. sociobiologist, n. /soh see oh buy ol euh jee, soh shee /, n. the study of social behavior in animals with emphasis on the role of behavior in survival and… …   Universalium

  • sociobiology — The academic discipline best known through the work of Edward O. Wilson who coined the term in his Sociobiology: the New Synthesis (1975). The approach to human behaviour is based on the premise that all social behaviour has a biological basis,… …   Philosophy dictionary

  • sociobiology — noun Date: 1946 the comparative study of social organization and behavior in animals including humans especially with regard to its genetic basis and evolutionary history • sociobiological adjective • sociobiologist noun …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • sociobiology — n. [L. socius, companion; bios, life; logos, discourse] The study of all aspects of communication and social organization …   Dictionary of invertebrate zoology

  • sociobiology — noun The science that applies the principles of evolutionary biology to the study of social behaviour in both humans and animals …   Wiktionary

  • sociobiology — so·cio·bi·ol·o·gy .sō sē ō bī äl ə jē, .sō shē n, pl gies the comparative study of the biological basis of social organization and behavior in animals and humans esp. with regard to their genetic basis and evolutionary history… …   Medical dictionary

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”