The Birds and the Bees

Yes, this post is about sex. And biology. And genetics. Think for a few minutes and I bet you can identify some of the wasy that sex, biology, and genetics each influence society and culture.

1. Our attitudes toward sex are really cultural and not biological or genetic. Consider how many people make money with sex toys, pronographic films, dirty magazines, books of sex advice, and so on. People who market these things, intentionally or not, create cultural expectations of what sex should be like. We spread those expaectations when we interact with friends and lovers, or potential lovers. (Ideas that we spread around are called memes.The term was created by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins.)

2. Some businesses, academics, and writers are trumpeting the impending victory of science and technology over biology. We can soon prevent or cure any genetic disorder. We can prevent most of the problems of aging and even reverse some of the effects. (Sorry, but there is no hope of curing married men of the urge to visit topless bars.) Never mind if those expectations are rooted in facts or wishful thinking or marketing hype. The cultural impacts are real so the reality of the predictions is, sociologically speaking, irrelevant.

3. How long will it be before someone writes an essay or makes a speech and suggests that Arabic men are genetically inferior to Northern European white males?

4. Biology imposes limits on how a society could be organized. We need food, water, and protection from the elements. So, the need to secure food, water, and protection from the elements imposes limits on how many people can live in a given area, what they must do to get food, and how much time and effort is required to cope with the climate. So, biology acting in concert with climate and the local ecology will influence social organization and culture.

Sociology lecture over.

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~ by chetdavis on September 21, 2006.

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