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Economic Exchange as an Evolutionary Transmission Channel in Human Societies


Bertin Martens


European Union - Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (IPTS)

January 1, 2012


Abstract:     
This paper argues that the (epi)genetic, cultural, symbolic, and environmental transmission channels are insufficient to explain the structure of modern human societies. Economic exchange of knowledge embodied in goods and services constitutes an additional transmission channel that makes more efficient use of limited human cognitive capacity. Economic exchange results in a gradual shift in societies from task-based division of labor to cognitive specialization. This shifts scarce cognitive resources away from production and into learning. It accelerates learning and reinforces the drive towards specialization. Cognitive specialization may constitute another 'major transition' towards a higher level of aggregation in human societies, with properties that differ from symbolic transmission.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 31

Keywords: evolutionary economics, evolutionary biology, new synthesis, transmission channels, symbolic transmission, niche construction, division of labour, specialization, cognitive capacity

JEL Classification: B25, B52

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Date posted: February 6, 2012 ; Last revised: May 17, 2013

Suggested Citation

Martens, Bertin, Economic Exchange as an Evolutionary Transmission Channel in Human Societies (January 1, 2012). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2000074 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2000074

Contact Information

Bertin Martens (Contact Author)
European Union - Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (IPTS) ( email )
Edificio Expo, C
Inca Garcilaso, s/n
Sevilla, E-41092
Spain
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