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Mechanisms of sexual egalitarianism in Western Europe

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This paper presents historical evidence on marriage patterns in ancient Sparta, Rome, Early Christianity, and the Early Middle Ages. Monogamy occurred in all of these societies but there is a great deal of diversity in origin and function of monogamous mating arrangements. In the case of Sparta, monogamy arose as part of an intensively egalitarian, racially homogenous social structure which fostered intense cooperation and altruism within the group. In the case of Rome monogamy coexisted with pronounced social, political, and economic inequalities, and there was much more ethnic diversity at Rome than at Sparta. The case of early Christianity involved the spread of a more radical ideology of monogamy and sexual restraint among the lower and middle classes of the Roman Empire, but the crucial event in the Christianization of the West was the apparently chance conversion of a single powerful individual, the Emperor Constantine. In the case of the Christianization of barbarian Europe, the movement was spearheaded by a powerful institution and the acceptance among the aristocracy of Christian ideology. The revolution thus proceeded from the top of the society downward. These findings are related to a model of cultural evolution that emphasizes the irreducibility of social controls and ideology in maintaining egalitarian mating practices.

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... Masters (1989) shows that while military conquest may be responsible for the emergence of very large states, stratified state societies developed as a result of socioeconomic change prior to military conflict. Moreover, SIM apparently originated not in large empires but in small city-states (Herlihy 1991;MacDonald 1990), so SIM cannot be seen as an outcome of conflict between ever larger groups. Indeed, the vast majority of traditional stratified societies were in fact highly polygynous, and they often covered vast areas with very large populations (Betzig, 1986;Dickemann, 1979;van den Berghe, 1979). ...
... No historical data are provided which indicate that SIM developed as a result of bargaining processes centering around the need for specialized, irreplaceable labor or that SIM originated with the recent rise of industrialization. In the following, data will be presented indicating that SIM developed far earlier than the industrial revolution and has been maintained by several different processes (see also MacDonald, 1983MacDonald, , 1990). ...
... Variables important for the establishment and maintenance of SIM. It is a major advantage of the present approach that it is able to accommodate a wide variety of internal political processes leading to SIM (see MacDonald, 1990). Specifically, there appear to be five qualitatively different mechanisms which are theoretically plausible candidates as influences on the development and/or maintenance of SIM: 1.) ...
Article
Although stratified societies have typically been characterized by intensive polygyny, socially imposed monogamy has developed in the stratified societies of Western Europe. Following a critical review of other theories of socially imposed monogamy, a multivariate, non-deterministic theory is developed. Within this theory a variety of internal political processes can result in socially imposed monogamy, but socially imposed monogamy, while consistent with evolutionary theory, is underdetermined with respect to 1.) evolutionary theory; 2.) human nature/nurture (i. e., the characteristics of humans); or 3.) external ecological variables. Data on the origins and maintenance of socially imposed monogamy in Western Europe are reviewed indicating that post-antiquity socially imposed monogamy originated in the late Middle Ages and has been maintained by a variety of social controls and ideologies since that period, including political activities of the Christian Church, and, in later periods, women and lower and middle status males. As a result of institutionalized controls on reproduction, non-monogamous Western sexuality has been directed at obtaining psychological rewards deriving from evolved motivational systems (e. g., sexual pleasure, excitement, feelings of dominance, status, or intimacy) but this non-monogamous sexuality has not typically been a major source of increased reproductive success.
... Thus, large industrialized states impose monogamy-a restriction imposed on the elite, in the interests of the masses. The imposition of monogamy is likely to be accompanied by other concessions, such as increasingly broad-based political participation (Betzig, 1986;Kanazawa & Still 1999;MacDonald, 1990;Price, 1999). The elite are motivated to make these concessions by their desire to strengthen the state when struggling for survival in war with other states (Alexander et al., 1979;Henrich et al., 2012). ...
... The elite concession view has been criticized for ignoring the roots of SIM in the institutions of Greece, Rome, and medieval Christianity (Price, 1999). MacDonald (1990) examines SIM and concludes that it is simply not adaptive. He attributes the imposition of monogamy in modern states to the chance conversion of Constantine to Christianity, and the subsequent diffusion of Christian rules of marriage throughout the Roman cultural region (Price, 1999). ...
Article
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Multiple proposed determinants of the long-term historical shift in marriage preference from polygynous to monogamous unions are tested simultaneously using data on a worldwide sample of 186 pre-industrial societies. Since the diffusion of monogamy though conquest and population migration is well documented, we employ network autocorrelation regression models that include the cultural transmission of monogamy as an endogenous predictor variable. Linguistic and spatial transmission processes are found to be significant factors that jointly affect the world-wide variance of monogamy, while religious transmission processes are not significant, suggesting genomic variation may play a role in shaping the incidence of monogamy. Other significant factors are reduction of extrinsic risks due to pathogen stress and endemic violence, a highly articulated extra-household division of labor, and a beneficent environment, results which are consistent with female choice as a binding constraint in marriage decisions. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)
... In making these claims, Henrich relied primarily on two articles by Kevin MacDonald (1990MacDonald ( , 1995, referencing him a total of 7 times. Why did Henrich abandon this earlier view to argue that monogamy was created "inadvertently" by a Church obsessed with the natural sexual drives of humans? ...
Article
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This essay acknowledges Joseph Henrich's landmark analysis of how medieval Europeans were already psychologically distinct from the kinship-oriented peoples of other civilizations long before the rise of modern science and liberal thought. It then shows that Europeans already exhibited WEIRD psychological traits in ancient Greek times, along with monogamous nuclear families, civic citizenship, and a relatively high level of literacy long before the Protestant emphasis on reading. The early Christians of the Hellenistic period were already advocating a WEIRD sexual morality before the Catholic Church intentionally-not "unintentionally"-abolished the polygamous kinship norms of early medieval Germanic peoples. The creation of nation-states in the modern era was an alternative form of community created by WEIRD Europeans consistent (in principle) with their liberal values. Despite his emphasis on "cultural evolution", Henrich misses the extent to which Europeans were the most creative cultural species in history.
... Angeregt durch diese Fragen wurde seit Anfang der achtziger Jahre an empirischen Studien zur Überprüfung der aufgestellten Hypothesen mit historischem und ethnologischem Datenmaterial gearbeitet (Alexander, 1979;Betzig, 1986Betzig, , 1995Boone, 1983Boone, , 1986Chagnon & Irons, 1979;Dickemann, 1979;Thornhill, 1992;Turke, 1990). Die Ergebnisse waren für traditionale (auch historische) Gesellschaften durchaus valide, vermochten aber nicht die Entwicklung des Reproduktionsverhaltens seit der demographischen Transition zu erklären (Borgerhoff Mulder, 1998;MacDonald, 1990MacDonald, , 1995. Obwohl die These von der jederzeit optimalen Anpassung von Kultur an den genetischen Imperativ der Fitnessmaximierung bei gegebener Umwelt heute wohl als widerlegt gelten kann, haben die Untersuchungen der DH doch das bleibende Verdienst, die hohe Anpassungsleistung von verschie-denen traditionalen Kulturen sowie die sehr "natürlichen" Zusammenhänge zwischen Paarungssystem und politischem System beim Menschen aufgezeigt zu haben. ...
Chapter
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Dieser Beitrag stellt die vergleichsweise junge Disziplin der „evolutionären Geschichtswissenschaft“ und insbesondere den Ansatz einer evolutionär inspirierten Kultur- und Sozialgeschichte vor, die sich auf der Basis einer erweiterten synthetischen Evolutionstheorie sowie einer anthropologisch interessierten Geschichtswissenschaft um die Erklärung historischen Verhaltens bemüht. Evolutionäre Geschichtswissenschaft (EG) speist sich aus dem Bestreben von Biologen, Anthropologen und (wenigen) Historikern, menschliches Verhalten in historischer Zeit in einen naturalistischen Rahmen zu stellen, ohne dabei die speziellen Eigenschaften menschlicher Kultur aus dem Blick zu verlieren. Anhand von zwei Beispielen werden die Anwendung und der mögliche Nutzen einer evolutionären Geschichtswissenschaften für das Verständnis von Kultur und Verhalten in geschichtlicher Zeit vorgestellt. Den Abschluss bilden einige methodische Reflexionen über die Probleme eines solchen Ansatzes in den beteiligten Fachdisziplinen.
... He argues that monogamous mating is evolutionarily superior to polygyny when considering altruism among children. MacDonald (1990), Betzig (1986) and Alexander (1987) argue that this phenomenon is the result of egalitarianism or the need for cohesion in democratic-industrialized countries where the division of labor or the 'rule of law' is prominent. In a recent paper, Lagerlof (2010) extends and formalizes ideas discussed in Alexander (1987). ...
Article
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This paper offers a simple theory that explains why polygyny marriage has almost disappeared in modern industrialized countries although it had been common in most of the societies throughout history. I demonstrate that the increase in labor income through the process of economic development has led to the rise of monogamy. Specifically, I show in a general equilibrium model of marriage market that the increase in labor income improves women's outside option, monogamy mating. This, in turn, reduces polygyny by increasing the cost of polygyny mating for men. This theory is the first one to explain the phenomenon with emphasizing cost-side changes and complements previous demand-side theories. Moreover, the theory points to a supply-side mechanism of the negative correlation between the quantity and quality of children.
... There is reason to suppose the existence of such nonevolved motive dispositions and to suppose that they can successfully compete with evolved motive dispositions. Richerson and Boyd (1989) have argued that personal ideologies and any associated behavior can depart radically from that predicted by an optimality model, and in previous work I have emphasized that personal ideologies are irreducible to evolved psychological traits of individuals, are underdetermined by biological theory, and interact with but are independent of social controls on individual behavior (MacDonald, 1983MacDonald, , 1988MacDonald, , 1990, in press). Thus individual males and even entire cultures have adopted ideologies of male sexual restraint despite the apparent existence of evolved adaptations toward male sexual promiscuity and despite the fact that such behavior is not optimal for wealthy males. ...
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... Die leitende Frage, die sich aus der damals noch jungen Forschungsrichtung hinsichtlich der beziehung zwischen natur und Kultur ergab, lautete: bis zu welchem Grad kann in einem szenario permanenter anpassungsoptimierung Verhalten verstanden und erklärt werden aus dem bewussten oder unbewussten "bestreben" von individuen, ihre reproduktion zu maximieren und so ihre genetische information als träger dieser anpassungsinformationen an die kommende Generation weiterzugeben? angeregt durch diese Fragen wurde seit anfang der achtziger Jahre an empirischen studien zur Überprüfung der aufgestellten hypothesen mit historischem und ethnologischem Datenmaterial gearbeitet (alexander, 1979;betzig, 1986boone, 1983, 1986chagnon & irons, 1979;Dickemann, 1979;thornhill, 1992;turke, 1990). Die ergebnisse waren für traditionale (auch historische) Gesellschaften durchaus valide, vermochten aber nicht die entwicklung des reproduktionsverhaltens seit der demographischen transition zu erklären (borgerhoff Mulder, 1998;MacDonald, 1990MacDonald, , 1995. Obwohl die these von der jederzeit optimalen anpassung von Kultur an den genetischen imperativ der Fitnessmaximierung bei gegebener umwelt heute wohl als widerlegt gelten kann, haben die untersuchungen der Dh doch das bleibende Verdienst, die hohe anpassungsleistung von verschie-denen traditionalen Kulturen sowie die sehr "natürlichen" Zusammenhänge zwischen Paarungssystem und politischem system beim Menschen aufgezeigt zu haben. ...
... Earlier theories of marriage institution (Alexander 1987;Alexander et al. 1979;Betzig 1986;MacDonald 1990) assume that men's preferences and choices create a particular institution and impose it on women. Kanazawa and Still (1999) first point out that mating is a female choice in every species in which the female makes greater parental investment in the offspring than the male (including humans), and then propose a theory that assumes that a particular institution of marriage spontaneously emerges out of thousands or millions of independent decisions women make. ...
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While rational choice theorists have made great advances in their study of institutions and structures (and how they affect behavior), they have made less progress toward understanding the origins of values. I propose that the emerging field of evolutionary psychology complements rational choice theory by providing a theory of values, and that current explanations of values and preferences, such as learning, norms, and identities, are all compatible with evolutionary psychology, which provides more ultimate explanations for these proximate causes of behavior. The incorporation of evolutionary psychology into rational choice theory can also solve some of the persistent puzzles of rational choice theory: Why do so many players in Prisoner's Dilemma games make the irrational choice to cooperate? Why do people participate in collective action? Why do people sometimes behave "irrationally" by acting on their emotions? Why does rational choice theory appear to be more applicable to men than to women?
... A successful marriage required one man (bread winner) and one woman (caregiver) to successfully raise children, with each was entirely dependent on the other. MacDonald (1990) and Herlihy (1995) have studied the history of socially imposed monogamy and found that its appearance and spread was contextually and historically dependent. The first evidence of it is the early city states of Greece. ...
Conference Paper
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In pre-modern societies, rulers were able to translate political power into wealth and wealth into additional wives and children. In most modern societies, especially Western societies, plural marriages are either prohibited or very uncommon, although a minority of societies, found mostly in the Middle East and in sub-Saharan Africa, still approve of plural marriages. Among high ranking political officials generally, however, such marriages are uncommon. Thus, the translation of political power into personal reproduction is far less common in modern than in pre-modern societies. This paper examines several factors in modern societies, including democracy, that have weakened the relationship between political power and reproductive success.
... Kanazawa and Still base their interpretation of my views on my 1990 article (MacDonald 1990). This articledoes indeed argue that monogamy was an important aspect of the extreme economic, political and social egalitarianism characteristic of Sparta, but in the case of Rome I argue that the historical record is too obscure to come to any firm conclusion on the origin of monogamy, although it is indeed possible that egalitarianism among males played an important role in the early Republic. ...
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In their article "Why monogamy?" Kanazawa and Still (1999) misrepresent my theory of monogamy as based on egalitarianism among males. I find that a variety of different interests at play in the development of mating systems and that monogamy is a complex, historically conditioned outcome of these differing interests. Because there are no powerful, theoretically-based reasons that specify the conditions under which monogamy is expected to occur, we must examine the detailed historical record for each documented case. I have found that egalitarian striving among males is only one mechanism in the development of monogamy in Western Europe. Other mechanisms include the efforts of some classes of women and a top-down mechanism in which the Catholic Church played a central role in the development of monogamy in the late Middle Ages.
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At puberty radical morphological changes occur. Textbooks on adolescent development have, through the years, faithfully detailed these morphological changes, but without acknowledging that these biological phenomena must necessarily possess identifiable adaptive functions. Thus the student learns various facts about the growth spurt, the appearance of hair, sexual bimaturism, etc. without ever considering the functions of these striking developments.
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The paper discusses the relationship between reproductive success and economic control in human societies. It is argued that sociobiology must be concerned with the phenotype, which is in turn influenced by genetic variation, environmental influences during development, the belief structure of the society, socio-political constraints and the economic productivity of the society as independent variables. It is argued that increased production has resulted in increasing importance of belief structures and social controls for explaining variance within cultures in male reproductive success. Although a correlation between reproductive success and control of resources exists in human societies as a main effect, the strength of this association varies in different societies and is importantly affected by the belief structure and socio-political constraints of the society. Sociobiology emerges as an important descriptive but not predictive theory of human societies.
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This article argues that concubines (ch'ieh) in traditional China should not be thought of as wives, even secondary wives. Using Sung dynasty (960-1279) evidence, the ritual, legal, and social differences between wives and concubines are examined. Wives were acquired through a betrothal process that entailed exchange of gifts and ceremonies; concubines were purchased through a market in female labor much as maids were. A wife's relatives became kin of her husband and his family; a concubine's did not. A man could take as many concubines as he could afford; he could marry only one wife. The sons of a concubine had the same rights of inheritance as the sons of a wife, but they had to treat their father's wife as their legal mother, honoring their "birth mother" to a lesser degree. A concubine had to treat the wife as her mistress, and she might well be used by the wife as a personal maid. The wife could rear the concubine's children herself if she chose to and would be their legal guardian if the father died. In criminal law, concubines fell between wives and maids in matters such as injuries to family members. The conclusion of this essay considers the ways in which the status of concubines changed in later centuries.
Article
INTRODUCTION The form of social organization exhibited by monogamous mammals ranges from a dispersed social system (the pair is rarely seen together or with the young) to a pair bonded condition (the pair is usually seen together, with the nuclear family a temporary phenome-non) to a permanent nuclear or extended family (the pair is always seen together with different-aged offspring and sometimes other kin) (see Figure 20-1). The purpose of this paper is to examine the similarities and differences in the behavior of monogamous mam-mals, to determine whether there are correlations among different behavioral characteris-tics, depending upon the form of social organization exhibited. The chief behavioral characteristics to be discussed here include the form, intensity, and direction of interactions between and within the sexes, the condition of young at birth and during ontogeny, parental care systems, dispersal mechanisms, and sex differences in territorial behaviors such as scent marking.
Article
Describes the historical background of some of the more striking techniques used by a variety of premodern bureaucracies to ensure the loyalty of their officers that involved the destruction of family attachments through castration, celibacy, abduction, and adoption. Four basic techniques are outlined that are open to leadership of large modern organizations to defeat, contain, or constructively rechannel the fragmentary forces engendered by familial bonds and that promote the cohesion of unrelated individuals: severance, harmonization, mimicry, and restitution. (35 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
The purpose of this paper is to illustrate a behavioral-ecological, contextual approach to thinking about cultural variation as well as the problem of the gap between actual behavior and optimal behavior. This approach emphasizes sociobiologically predicted, genetically based, central tendencies in human behavior rather than genetic variation, but it is consistent with theories emphasizing genetic variation. The variable of economic production is introduced as a contextual variable associated, in sociobiologically predictable ways, with variation in sexual competition, family and social structure, and the socialization of children. Social controls on individual behavior as well as personal ideology are described as contextual variables that strongly affect individual fitness within societies, but do so in ways that are underdetermined by biological theory. For example, there is no way derived from biological theory to predict whether ideology or social controls in a society will be egalitarian or antiegalitarian. Individual behavior is also strongly affected by the interactions of these contextual variables with proximal mechanisms. Examples of maladaptive behavior emphasizing the interactions among the proposed contextual variables, the sociobiologically expected central tendencies in human behavior, and the proximal mechanisms proposed by psychologists are provided.
Article
Thesis--Columbia University. Abstract. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 251-256). Microfilm of typescript.
Article
Data gathered in Australia and England on the social attitudes of spouses and twins are largely consistent with a genetic model for family resemblance in social attitudes. There is substantial assortative mating and little evidence of vertical cultural inheritance.
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