The appalling appeal of nature: the popular influence of evolutionary psychology as a problem for sociology

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Evolutionary psychology represents a major challenge to sociology, since it claims to provide an alternative, more 'objective' account of the human condition and of social problems. It receives widespread media coverage and has a firm hold on the popular imagination. In comparison, sociological accounts of society and identity play only a minor role in public debates. We argue that, as 'public intellectuals', it is the responsibility of sociologists to contest these impoverished representations of social life. In order to do so successfully it is necessary first to examine the popular appeal of evolutionary psychology, which rests on the narrative strategies employed to link human origins with contemporary social problems, and second, to take up the challenge of engaging with less reductionist scientific accounts of the potential biological basis of society.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)917-930
Number of pages14
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2007


  • evolutionary psychology
  • gender
  • nature
  • popular science

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