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Evolution for our time: a theory of legal memetics


  • Simon Deakin


The purpose of this paper is to explore the significance for legal thought of recent developments in evolutionary theory which are associated with the notion of 'memetics'. 'Memetics' aims to account for processes of cultural transmission and change using a version of the 'genetic metaphor'. This is the idea that patterns of cultural evolution are closely analogous to those which occur in the natural world as a result of the interaction between genes, organisms and environments. At a further, more ambitious level, the initial metaphor gives way to a search for mechanisms which unite biological and cultural evolution. Identifying these general evolutionary mechanisms is part of a wide-ranging, interdisciplinary research agenda.

Suggested Citation

  • Simon Deakin, 2002. "Evolution for our time: a theory of legal memetics," Working Papers wp242, Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge.
  • Handle: RePEc:cbr:cbrwps:wp242
    Note: PRO-2

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    Cited by:

    1. Mathias M Siems, 2006. "Legal origins: reconciling law and finance and comparative law," Working Papers wp321, Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge.

    More about this item


    legal evolution; memes; path dependence; employment contract; corporate governance;

    JEL classification:

    • K22 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - Business and Securities Law
    • K31 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Labor Law


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