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Modeling Specialization and Division of Labor in Cultural Evolution
Mälardalen University, School of Education, Culture and Communication. (Centre for the Study of Cultural Evolution)
2011 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Division of labor and division of knowledge are so important and common in society today that it is difficult to imagine a functional society where everyone knows the same things and performs the same tasks. In such a society everyone grows, or gathers, and prepares their own food, makes their own tools, builds their own house, and so on.

Cultural evolution is the field of research that studies the creation and diffusion of ideas and societies. It is very uncommon for these studies to take into account the effects of specialization. This thesis will show that specialization is of great importance to cultural evolution.

The thesis is divided into two parts: The first is an introduction to studies of specialization and division of labor. The thesis begins with an interdisciplinary survey of the research on division of labor and specialization, including both theoretic and empirical studies. Next is an introduction to modeling specialization and division of labor. This includes a general framework and a number of basic models of different aspects of specialization and division of labor.

Part two consists of four papers. The first paper studies the interaction between specialization and cultural cumulation. The second and third papers examine cultural cumulation, specifically the circumstances under which cultural knowledge increases and how cultural knowledge is distributed in the population. The last paper is a mathematical model of how specialization of knowledge (i.e. higher education) leads to social stratification.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Västerås: Mälardalen University , 2011.
Series
Mälardalen University Press Dissertations, ISSN 1651-4238 ; 107
Keyword [en]
Specialization, Division of Labor, Cultural Evolution
National Category
Other Mathematics
Research subject
Mathematics/Applied Mathematics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-13004ISBN: 978-91-7485-034-5 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:mdh-13004DiVA: diva2:440950
Public defence
2011-11-11, Beta, Mälardalens högskola, Västerås, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2011-09-14 Created: 2011-09-14 Last updated: 2011-10-14Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Theoretic and Empirical studies of Division of Labor and Specialization: An interdisciplinary survey
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Theoretic and Empirical studies of Division of Labor and Specialization: An interdisciplinary survey
(English)Manuscript (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The extensive division of labor in human societies is one of the aspects that make them unique. There are many areas which are influenced by this division. The most obvious one might be the economy, where division of labor yields much higher production. However, as we will show in this survey, a lot of other areas which affect society are influenced by division of labor, such as population size and density, technology, trade, accumulation of knowledge, social stratification, political organization, and institutions. Even the size of the family is argued to be linked to division of labor and specialization.This review will discuss how specialization evolved, including both theoretical and empirical studies from several disciplines. We will also study different kinds of specialization, as well as how and in which areas specialization has an influence.

Keyword
division of labor, specialization, survey
National Category
Sociology (excluding Social work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Research subject
Mathematics/Applied Mathematics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-5864 (URN)
Available from: 2009-05-12 Created: 2009-05-12 Last updated: 2013-01-24Bibliographically approved
2. Specialization leads to feedback cycles in cultural evolution
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Specialization leads to feedback cycles in cultural evolution
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This paper studies the interaction between specialization and cul-tural evolution. Four key components are identified from publishedempirical studies: Culture, Specialization, Production and Popula-tion. Mathematical models are used to investigate the interactionsbetween the components and the behavior of the entire system. Theresults show that specialization is both a cause and an outcome of cul-tural cumulation, which creates feedback cycles in cultural evolution.The feedback cycles can explain the drastic increase in innovation ratewe have observed throughout human history. Specialization is there-fore argued to be an integral part in understanding cultural evolution.

Keyword
Cultural evolution, specialization, mathematical model
National Category
Other Biological Topics Other Mathematics
Research subject
Mathematics/Applied Mathematics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-13001 (URN)
Available from: 2011-09-14 Created: 2011-09-14 Last updated: 2013-01-24Bibliographically approved
3. Under what circumstances can copying lead to increased cultural diversity?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Under what circumstances can copying lead to increased cultural diversity?
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In many models of cultural evolution, agents learn cultural elements either by individual learning (innovation) or social learning (copying). This paper investigates what kind of learning, or combination of the two kinds, maximizes the total number of cultural elements known in the population. In a model where both kinds of learning are equally efficient, we find that this maximum is achieved when only individual learning is used. Analysis and simulation is used to investigate how much more efficient social learning has to be for a mixed solution to appear. Two possible reasons for social learning being more efficient than innovation are identified.

Keyword
Cultural Evolution, Mathematical Model
National Category
Other Biological Topics
Research subject
Mathematics/Applied Mathematics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-13003 (URN)
Available from: 2011-09-14 Created: 2011-09-14 Last updated: 2013-01-24Bibliographically approved
4. Adaptive Strategies for Cumulative Cultural Learning
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Adaptive Strategies for Cumulative Cultural Learning
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The demographic and ecological success of our species is frequently attributed to our capacity for cumulative culture. However, it is not yet known how humans combine social and asocial learning to generate effective strategies for learning in a cumulative cultural context. Here we explore how cumulative culture influences therelative merits of various pure and conditional learning strategies, including pure asocial and social learning, critical social learning, conditional social learning and individual refiner strategies. We replicate the Rogers’ paradox in the cumulative setting. However, our analysis suggests that strategies that resolved Rogers’ Paradoxin a non-cumulative setting may not necessarily evolve in a cumulative setting, thus different strategies will optimize cumulative and non-cumulative cultural learning.

Keyword
Cultural Evolution, Cumulative Culture, Mathematical Model
National Category
Evolutionary Biology Other Mathematics
Research subject
Mathematics/Applied Mathematics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-13002 (URN)
Available from: 2011-09-14 Created: 2011-09-14 Last updated: 2013-01-24Bibliographically approved
5. Temporal Discounting Leads to Social Stratification
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Temporal Discounting Leads to Social Stratification
(English)Manuscript (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Social stratification is present in all modern societies. Do income dif-ferences simply reflect inherited differences in individual abilities and re-sources? If not, why does not everyone choose strategies that lead to highincome? This paper shows that the psychological phenomenon known astemporal discounting will lead to differences in educational attainmentand therefore social stratification in any society where the demand forworkers with a higher level of education is higher than for those witha lower level. The model is used to predict income differences betweenpeople with and without college education in seven developed countries,based only on official statistics of the cost and length of college education.The model explains 93 percent of the variance, strongly suggesting thattemporal discounting is a major factor behind income differences.

Keyword
social stratification, mathematical model
National Category
Sociology (excluding Social work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology) Other Mathematics
Research subject
Mathematics/Applied Mathematics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-5852 (URN)
Available from: 2009-05-11 Created: 2009-05-11 Last updated: 2013-01-24Bibliographically approved

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