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Members' Activities 2014

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Dancing and Calculating: Culturally Sustainable Development and Globalization in Light of Two Paradigms of Sociocultural Evolution

by Vjeran Katunaric, Department of Sociology, University of Zadar, Croatia (vjeran.katunaric@zg.t-com.hr)


Globalization challenges usefulness of different paradigms of socio-cultural evolution and opens a possibility for their hybridizations. In this paper two paradigms of evolution, transformational (Spencerian) and variational / selectionist (Darwinian), as discerned by Fracchia and Lewontin (1999), are examined along with their social theoretical counterparts. Most social theories of development are entangled with different evolutionary paradigms in different historical contexts. The transformational paradigm prevailed until the end of the Cold War (e.g. theories of modernization), and the selectionist paradigm, in various theoretical forms, afterwards (e.g. Hutington, Eisenstadt). Most developmental policies today prefer the selectionist paradigm in terms of the neoliberal free market. The transformational paradigm in development policies was predominant in the era of the welfare state in the West, and its counterpart in the statism of the East. Sustainable development in a socio-cultural sense is the youngest, and the least consistent policy concept, and it is not founded on the evolutionary paradigms. The concept was launched by the UN, as an attempt at mediating, mostly on the grounds of ecological alarms, between the free-market and the statist policies. The author considers the hybridization of the two paradigms as a proper conceptual foundation of sustainable development. On this premise, he expounds the concept of a culturally oriented sustainable development, arguing that developmental policies hybrids are more suitable for the sake of a decent survival of most countries. Eventually, in an advanced era of globalization, a world government may be established as a global coordinator between regional hybrids of development, which would be easier to administer than the current units based mostly on laissez-faire policies based on the selectionist paradigm protruded foremost by developed countries.

Key words: evolution, selection, variation, globalization, culturally sustainable development, developmental hybrids

The full paper will be published in the upcoming issue of the Croatian International Relations Review(CIRR).