reading list

anonymous asked if i could work up a bibliography (good idea!). here’s a partial list of some reading material on both altruism and human mating patterns (particularly for europe). please feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments! especially if you can recommend some good stuff on reciprocal altruism — i’d like to read more about that myself. thnx!

you can also find more references related to specific populations down in the left hand column (down there ↓) under the different “Mating Patterns in…” series. and see also the “Everybody Does It!” series in the middle column down below (↓) for real world examples of altruism in action.

altruism | the evolution of altruism | inbreeding and altruism

Cousin Marriage Conundrum by steve sailer – good layman’s introduction to altruism, inclusive fitness and kin selection.

The Altruism Equation: Seven Scientists Search for the Origins of Goodness – read the chapter on bill hamilton … and then read the whole thing.

Human Biological Variation – if you don’t know anything about population genetics, chapter 3 — Population Genetics and Human Variation — is a good introduction. not too math intensive (*whew!*).

– The genetical evolution of social behaviour I and II [pdfs] by william d. hamilton – if you’re good at math, these are the papers for you! you can also find the papers in this volume (thnx for the link, luke!). there’s also this paper: Innate social aptitudes of man: an approach from evolutionary genetics [pdf].

Grandma plays favourites: X-chromosome relatedness and sex-specific childhood mortality – for an example of how relatedness affects altruistic behaviors even within families.

The Natural History of Inbreeding and Outbreeding – read the chapter by richard michod … and the one by bill hamilton just for fun! the rest of the book is good, too.

An Experimental Study of Kin Selection – if you like beetles, this is the paper for you! also deals with how inbreeding affects altruistic behaviors.

Effect of Inbreeding on the Evolution of Altruistic Behavior by Kin Selection – more math. important paper, tho (given the metatopic of this blog).

human mating patterns | kinship | family types

Family structure, institutions, and growth – the origin and implications of Western corporatism [opens pdf] by avner greif – greif discusses how the roman catholic church’s ban on cousin marriage in europe did away with kinship-based clans and opened the door for a more “corporate” society based on individuals rather than extended families.

The Development of the Family and Marriage in Europe by jack goody – never judge a book by its cover … except this one! offers great background on how the mating patterns in europe changed radically during the medieval period.

Why Europe?: The Medieval Origins of Its Special Path by michael mitterauer – especially chapter 3 — The Conjugal Family and Bilateral Kinship: Social Flexibility through Looser Ties of Descent — but the whole book is terrific, too.

A Millennium of Family Change: Feudalism to Capitalism in Northwestern Europe by wally seccombe – another terrific book summarizing the changes to mating patterns and family structures in europe from the middle ages until today. it’s so good, i might even read it myself! (~_^)

The Tribal Imagination: Civilization and the Savage Mind by robin fox – especially chapter 3 — The Kindness of Strangers: Tribalism and the Trials of Democracy — but the whole book is good, too.

Kinship and Marriage: An Anthropological Perspective by robin fox – a good introduction to all the different cousin marriage forms.

Parallel-Cousin (FBD) Marriage, Islamization, and Arabization by andrey korotayev – korotayev offers an explanation for why the highly unusual fbd marriage is found where it is found.

The Explanation of Ideology: Family Structure and Social Systems by emmanuel todd – some good stuff from emmanuel todd on how family forms affect ideology. i don’t think he got it quite right (the references to freudian ideas are really far out, for instance), but he still noticed something very interesting.

previously: european consanguinity bibliography

(note: comments do not require an email. books, books, books. (^_^) )


  1. “- A Millennium of Family Change: Feudalism to Capitalism in Northwestern Europe by wally seccombe”

    So the obvious Marxist framing isn’t a problem with this book? I guess V. Gordon Childe is another whom it didn’t hurt.


  2. @luke – “So the obvious Marxist framing isn’t a problem with this book?”

    just ignore it. concentrate on the facts he presents. (^_^)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s