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December 30 , 2008

The Social Animal


The Social Animal is a classic investigation of human beings as social animals. The Social Animal is a short, wide-ranging, witty and accessible book that sets out the present extent of our knowledge about how human societies and institutions really work, and what motivates the people who live within them. W. G. Runciman’s superb book is a welcome corrective to the view that there are no societies, only collections of individuals and their families: he shows that wherever they may live in the world, human beings are quintessentially social animals. Using the latest insights from the fields of biology, anthropology, psychology, economic history and sociology, Runciman proposes a new social science, based not upon outmoded marxist ideas, but on the insights of Charles Darwin. The Social Animal is a book that can be read for pleasure as well as profit by anyone who has pondered what the social sciences are really about; how far they can assist policy makers create a better world; and what experiences are common to all human beings, regardless of where they might live. It is, in short, an instant classic.

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