Mary L. Hopcroft, ed. The Oxford Handbook of Evolution, Biology, and Society (Oxford: 2018)
Reviewed for Choice Magazine by Ronald F. White
In recent years there has been growing interest among scholars in the evolutionary foundations of collective human behavior. Although the institutional orthodoxy in the social sciences remains resistant to interdisciplinary analysis, there are many heterodox scholars now engaged in biosocial research. This most recent addition to Oxford University Press’s “handbook,” series is a 681 page tome, which includes 29 scholarly articles by 38 authors, from around the world, mostly from the U.S. These essays are organized under six headings or “parts.” Part 1: Introduction (4 essays), Part 2: Social Psychological Approaches (6 essays), Part 3: Biosociological Approaches (9 essays), Part 4: Evolutionary Approaches (7 essays), Part 5: Sociocultural Evolution (2 essays), and, Part 6: Conclusion (1 essay). Each essay includes a useful bibliography. Many of the essays could be listed under more than one heading. Although the four essays that comprise the Introduction provide important context, the four-page conclusion is pretty thin, predictable, and perhaps a bit disappointing. Anyone interested in this fine collection, should also look into Edward Elgar’s Handbook of Biology and Politics (2017), edited by Somit and Peterson; and check out the Association for Politics and the life Sciences, and its journal Politics and the Life Sciences.