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Characterization of hunter-gatherer networks and implications for cumulative culture

Migliano, AB; Page, AE; Gómez-Gardeñes, J; Salali, GD; Viguier, S; Dyble, M; Thompson, J; ... Vinicius, L; + view all (2017) Characterization of hunter-gatherer networks and implications for cumulative culture. [Letter]. Nature Human Behaviour , 1 (2) , Article 0043. 10.1038/s41562-016-0043. Green open access

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Abstract

Social networks in modern societies are highly structured, usually involving frequent contact with a small number of unrelated ‘friends’ 1 . However, contact network structures in traditional small-scale societies, especially hunter-gatherers, are poorly characterized. We developed a portable wireless sensing technology (motes) to study within-camp proximity networks among Agta and BaYaka hunter-gatherers in fine detail. We show that hunter-gatherer social networks exhibit signs of increased efficiency 2 for potential information exchange. Increased network efficiency is achieved through investment in a few strong links among non-kin ‘friends’ connecting unrelated families. We show that interactions with non-kin appear in childhood, creating opportunities for collaboration and cultural exchange beyond family at early ages. We also show that strong friendships are more important than family ties in predicting levels of shared knowledge among individuals. We hypothesize that efficient transmission of cumulative culture 3,​4,​5,​6 may have shaped human social networks and contributed to our tendency to extend networks beyond kin and form strong non-kin ties.

Type: Article
Title: Characterization of hunter-gatherer networks and implications for cumulative culture
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1038/s41562-016-0043
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-016-0043
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Behavioural ecology, Biological anthropology, Cultural evolution
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences > Genetics, Evolution and Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Anthropology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1549111
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