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Random drift and culture change

Bentley, R.A.; Hahn, M.W.; Shennan, S.J.; (2004) Random drift and culture change. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B , 271 (1547) pp. 1443-1450. 10.1098/rspb.2004.2746.

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Abstract

We show that the frequency distributions of cultural variants, in three different real–world examples—first names, archaeological pottery and applications for technology patents—follow power laws that can be explained by a simple model of random drift. We conclude that cultural and economic choices often reflect a decision process that is value–neutral; this result has far–reaching testable implications for social–science research.

Type: Article
Title: Random drift and culture change
DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2004.2746
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2004.2746
Language: English
Keywords: Cultural evolution, random genetic drift, patents, first names, pottery, power laws
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of SandHS > Institute of Archaeology
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/15343
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