Cultural system
Cultural system

One of our ambitions is to contribute to a general theory of cultural evolution. The mathematical theories of cultural evolution proposed by what is often referred to as the California School (established by Cavalli-Sforza, Feldman, Boyd and Richerson) has not been able to approach many of the important questions that arise within social science and the humanities, for example systems of beliefs and opinions, social networks and political systems.

There is a need to shift from studying single cultural elements in isolation to studying systems of such cultural elements, and to how these systems of culture are created and how they change. These systems are created by the relationships between the separate elements. Focusing on these, we are also able to formalise and build upon existing theories within the social sciences and the humanities (e.g. dialectic, structuralism and social constructions).

We have seen how fluctuations (changes in fashion trends) easily emerge when cultural systems change, and that individuals' openness to new culture and a desire to be influential are important properties of a system (Acerbi et al. 2014; Enquist et al. 2017).

We have also studied theoretically how cultural systems strive towards consistency, but that completely consistent or conflict-free systems are unlikely to emerge (Aguilar et al. 2017).

We have also shown that some conditions for using evolutionary game theory to study human behaviour and cultural evolution are often not satisfied (Cownden et al. 2017).