The book opens with an introductory chapter by Chagnon and Irons tracing the origins of human behavioral ecology and its subsequent development. Subsequent chapters, written by both younger scholars and established researchers, cover a wide range of societies and topics organ-ized into six sections. The first section includes two chapters that provide historical background on the development of human behavioral ecology and com-pare it to two complementary approaches in the study of evolution and human behavior, evolutionary psychology, and dual inheritance theory. The second section includes five studies of mating efforts in a variety of societies from South America and Africa. The third section covers parenting, with five studies on soci-eties from Africa, Asia, and North America. The fourth section breaks somewhat with the tradition in human behavioral ecology by focusing on one particularly problematic issue, the demographic transition, using data from Europe, North America, and Asia. The fifth section includes studies of cooperation and helping behaviors, using data from societies in Micronesia and South America. The sixth and final section consists of a single chapter that places the volume in a broader critical and comparative context.
The contributions to this volume demonstrate, with a high degree of theoretical and methodological sophistication--the maturity and freshness of this new paradigm in the study of human behavior. The volume will be of interest to anthropologists and other professions working on the study of cross-cultural human behavior.
Lee Cronk is associate professor of anthropology at Rutgers University. Napoleon Chagnon is professor of anthropology, emeritus at the University of California, Santa Barbara. William Irons is professor of anthropology at Northwestern University, Evanston Illinois.
Meeting at Grand Central brings together insights from evolutionary biology, political science, economics, anthropology, and other fields to explain how the interactions between our evolved selves and the institutional structures we have created make cooperation possible. The book begins with a look at the ideas of Mancur Olson and George Williams, who shifted the question of why cooperation happens from an emphasis on group benefits to individual costs. It then explores how these ideas have influenced our thinking about cooperation, coordination, and collective action. The book persuasively argues that cooperation and its failures are best explained by evolutionary and social theories working together. Selection sometimes favors cooperative tendencies, while institutions, norms, and incentives encourage and make possible actual cooperation.
Meeting at Grand Central will inspire researchers from different disciplines and intellectual traditions to share ideas and advance our understanding of cooperative behavior in a world that is more complex than ever before.