HomeKAYÂ TAOvol. 14 no. 1 (1995)

Aging in an Evolutionary Perspective: The Verticality of the Cultural Inheritance System

Rene D. Somera

Discipline: Sociology, Ethnography, Social Studies



As a theoretical exercise, this paper looks at the early ethnographic record and uses this as the basis for conceptually linking the aging experience to cultural evolutionary processes. A preceding discussion on the biology of aging provides perspective to this framework. Thereafter, it proposes a structuralist explanation to the complex relationship between the young and the old in society. It also suggests that food or nutrition mediates in the crucial progression between the young/old dichotomy. The paper concludes that the aged derive evolutionary importance from their role in ensuring that the verticality of the cultural inheritance system is successfully reproduced.