Darwin in France

GEMASS Website

Darwin in France
Contributions to a Theory of Cognitive Sociology
By Dominique Guillo

November 2016, hardback, 182pp.
ISBN: 978-1-905622-34-4
GEMAS Studies in Social Analysis


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France might seem at first sight to be a country both widely accepting of Darwinism and immunised against creationism due to the prominent place occupied by science and secularism in the public domain. This book reports the findings of a sociological research project into how people understand these ideas, which reveals that in reality appearances are deceptive and this is a more complex issue than it might appear at first sight. In France, people generally agree with “Darwinism” or “evolution” but what ordinary people see as covered by these terms is very different from what scientists understand of the same concepts. Against all odds, what many French people think of as “evolution” in fact contains many creationist ideas, though they are unaware of it. However, this research shows that we should not overestimate the preciseness of their beliefs and the strength of their commitment to this issue. Their understanding of these ideas is in reality somewhat blurred, and often linked to a form of indifference, which invites both a critical re-examination of the views developed in cognitive science and the social sciences on the relationship between science and everyday knowledge.

About the Author:

Dominique Guillo is Director of Research at the CNRS (French National Centre for Scientific Research) in the research unit GEMASS (UMR 8598, CNRS-Sorbonne). He is an associate researcher with the CRESC research unit (Mohammed VI Polytechnic University (UM6P), Rabat, Morocco).

His work deals with the links between biology and the social sciences in a number of areas; these include human–animal interaction involving dogs and monkeys in various cultures, cultural evolution, the eco-anthopological system of the Middle Atlas forest, and the reception of Darwinism (in France and Morocco). He teaches sociology and anthropology at Mohammed VI Polytechnic University.



CHAPTER 1: Evolution and the Diversity of Living Beings in Contemporary Biology
CHAPTER 2: The Concept of Evolution in a Sample of French Primary and Secondary School Textbooks
CHAPTER 3: An Experiment with Science Students
CHAPTER 4: Letters to the Editor of a Popular Science Magazine
CHAPTER 5: What is the Nature of these Beliefs?

Summary and Discussion of Results

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