Evolution of culture: who’s in charge?

Media:  Talk   

April 7, 2015

Byens Lys

Gert Jan Hofstede

Gert Jan Hofstede is a Dutch population biologist and social scientist in information management and social simulation, interested in the interplay of the contrasting forces of cultural evolution, societal change and cultural stability. He is Associate Professor at University of Wageningen at the Information Technology Group. He works on modelling of social behaviour, including culture, in virtual (computer) characters, taking the difficult task of creating believable behaviour that is not fully scripted in advance. Homepage

Unnatural Ways

Unnatural Ways is the main project of Brooklyn-based guitarist Ava Mendoza. The group was originally formed in early 2012 in Oakland, CA as a trio with west coast musicians Tim Dahl (Lydia Lunch, Archie Shepp bass), and Max Jaffe (Normal Love drums). Drawing from complex rock, avant jazz and warped blues music, the players push the boundaries of their own vocabularies and of the written music to put on powerful and unpredictable live shows. Homepage

What is culture and how does it evolve?

The relevance of culture is probably obvious to most Danes, whether they read Jyllandsposten or not. Different groups do not perceive the social world in the same way. But can we influence culture in desirable directions? That is the question.

Every person has his/her unique personality, history, and interest. Yet all people share a common human nature. Our shared human nature is intensely social: we are group animals. We use language and empathy, and practice collaboration and intergroup competition. But the unwritten rules of how we do these things differ from one human group to another. "Culture" is how we call these unwritten rules about how to be a good member of the group.

Gert Jan Hofstede will argue that the function of culture is co-ordinating social life. This is why dimensions of culture are about the central issues in social life, and he’ll give a bird’s eye overview. Second he’ll turn to the ontogeny of culture: how do we acquire it? The third question is the evolution of culture. How did we get to today’s cultural world map? This has to do with historical modes of subsistence. How might we progress from here? This will depend on the evolutionary pressures we create.

Hofstede will explain some of his groundbreaking work on modelling of social behaviour, including culture, in virtual (computer) characters. Check some of his project sites www.ecute.eu (education for cultural understanding), www.semira.wur.nl (policy across countries) or MIXER, eCute's cross-cultural learning tool for children and TRAVELLER, the Xbox-using cross-cultural training tool for adolescents about a youth's travels around the world in search of grandfather's lost treasure.

Later on, AVA, Brooklyn-base guitar player/musician will be taking the stage, playing with her band Unnatural ways plays a highly personal sound, sharp, heavy, and psychedelic. From complex rock, avant jazz to warped blues.

P.S.- If you’re the type who likes to read some stuff before then take a look at:
Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind, revised and expanded 3rd edition, by Geert Hofstede, Gert Jan Hofstede & Michael Minkov, in Danish: Kulturer og organisationer: Overlevelse i en graenseoverskridende verden. Copenhagen: Handelshojskolens Forlag, 2010. ISBN 978-87-629-0377-7.

Entrance to the event is free. No registration is necessary. Doors open at 19:00.

The talk: