All posts tagged: evolution

Theory of Political Behavior SERIES

In July I wrote a four-part series elucidating parts of a theory of political behavior. This here is a landing page for that series. Here are the parts: A theory of political behavior Evolutionary logic of identity Political dimension of group identity Imagined communities & populist alignment And here are a few “companion” posts that aren’t officially part of the series, but they relate: A working philosophy of social science The problem of collective action in the United States What is hegemonic struggle? Anatomy of populist hegemonic alignment (part 1) Anatomy of populist hegemonic alignment (part 2)

A theory of political behavior (pt.2: evolutionary logic of identity)

Picking up where I left off in part 1, the next axiom: identity serves an evolved, group-benefiting function. I am well aware that examining an evolutionary framework to explain behavior is something that not everyone is comfortable with. Indeed, it has provoked pushback from some of my cultural studies friends and advisors (but encouragement from others). After much deliberation, I decided to keep the evolutionary lens as an explicit piece of my theoretical framework. (For more background philosophical justification, see my working philosophy of social science.) I believe that group-oriented behavior is built upon the scaffolding of evolved group-oriented instincts. We may prefer to think of our life choices as self-aware, rational choices. But the prefrontal cortex—the region attributed to the capacity for rational thought—is a new kid on the block, in the span of evolutionary time. A relatively small portion of our brain activity involves conscious rational thought, and that part is not divorced from primal and preconscious emotions and instincts. Our orientation as individuals toward the groups we are situated within certainly has …