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  • About
  • The Global ETD Search service is a free service for researchers to find electronic theses and dissertations. This service is provided by the Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations.
    Our metadata is collected from universities around the world. If you manage a university/consortium/country archive and want to be added, details can be found on the NDLTD website.

Experimental and theoretical models of cultural evolution

Kempe, Marius January 2014 (has links)
This thesis contributes to the field of cultural evolution by presenting two experimental and two theoretical models of cultural evolution. Prior to presenting these I survey existing experimental and theoretical models of cultural evolution. In the first experiment, I test the hypothesis that increasing group size speeds up cultural accumulation, using a novel puzzle-solving task and within a transmission chain design. I find support for this hypothesis, in contrast with previous experiments. In the second experiment, also using a transmission chain design, I examine perceptual errors in recreating Acheulean handaxes and ask whether such errors can account for the variability of Acheulean technology over time. Using the accumulated copying error model to compare the experimental data to archaeological records, I conclude that perceptual errors alone were likely not the driving force behind Acheulean evolution. In the first theoretical chapter, I present models of cultural differences between populations and of cumulative culture, which build on existing models and accord with empirical data. I then show that the models, when combined, have two qualitative regimes which may correspond to human and nonhuman culture. In the second theoretical chapter, I present a ‘fundamental theorem of cultural selection’, an equivalent of Fisher’s Fundamental Theorem of Natural Selection for cultural evolution. I discuss how this theorem formalizes and sheds light on cultural evolutionary theory. Finally I conclude and discuss future research directions.

Post-natal care and breastfeeding experiences : a qualitative investigation following a randomised trial of side-car crib use (NECOT Trial)

Taylor, Catherine Elizabeth January 2014 (has links)
The World Health Organization recommends that mothers should breastfeed their infants exclusively for six months and continue to breastfeed alongside complementary foods for two years or more (WHO 2003). In the UK breastfeeding initiation is high, however, duration falls significantly short of the WHO recommendations (McAndrew et al 2012). Preserving mother-baby contact throughout the post-natal stay is recommended to safeguard and support favourable breastfeeding outcomes (WHO 1989). The NECOT Trial (a randomised controlled trial involving 1204 mother-newborn dyads) examined whether the provision of side-car cribs during the post-natal stay (facilitating unrestricted contact) resulted in a longer duration of breastfeeding than rooming-in using stand-alone cots. The trial obtained weekly data on infant feeding and sleeping arrangements for 26 weeks post-partum. The use of side-car cribs on the post-natal ward did not improve the duration of any or exclusive breastfeeding in the sample overall (Ball et al 2011). This follow-up research aimed to contextualise the NECOT Trial results by adding a qualitative component to the existing quantitative protocol. Methods Interviews were conducted at approximately six months post-partum with a sub-sample of NECOT Trial participants (64) and a number of post-natal ward staff (19) involved in their care. Aims of the maternal interviews were to investigate mothers’ hospital and at-home experiences of infant feeding and sleeping behaviour and to explore their experiences of participating in the trial. Staff interviews were aimed at investigating perceptions of side-car crib usage and to examine attitudes towards post-natal care and breastfeeding support. Audio recordings of interviews were analysed using NVivo software. Findings were discussed within an authoritative knowledge (AK) theoretical framework. Results The interviews revealed that women randomised to receive the side-car cribs felt that they had made a positive difference to their experiences on the post-natal ward; women randomised to the control group felt a side-car crib would have been beneficial. Participants from both the NECOT intervention and control groups recommended continued use of the side-car cribs on post-natal wards. In particular, the advantage of issuing the side-car crib to women who have mobility issues (delivered via c-section or who had received epidural/spinal analgesics) were highlighted. The benefits of the side-car cribs for breastfeeding were deemed to be outweighed on the post-natal ward by other experiences undermining the establishment of breastfeeding such as the introduction of ‘top-up’ formula feeds, absence of skin-to-skin contact, periods of mother-infant separation, delayed breastfeeding initiation or initial breastfeeding difficulties. Staff identified difficulties working around the side-car cribs and discussed problems relating to their role in providing breastfeeding support on the post-natal ward. There were additional factors within the home environment that had a negative effect on breastfeeding duration beyond the initial post-natal period, such as the impact of caring for other children, returning to work, imposition of a feeding/sleeping routine, beliefs of insufficient milk and feelings that breastfeeding was too demanding/tiring. The results also indicated that the follow-up calls impacted upon mothers’ thoughts and actions regarding infant feeding and sleeping behaviour. An AK framework was shown to be a useful theoretical concept for helping to understand and interpret the research findings. Conclusion The overwhelming positive response to the side-car cribs and the benefits highlighted by NECOT Trial participants suggest that introduction of side-car cribs on post-natal wards will improve patient experience. However, any potential beneficial effects on breastfeeding appear to be easily offset by the various effects of other factors that served to reduce breastfeeding success and duration. This implies that the introduction of side-car cribs may be more effective if introduced in conjunction with other interventions addressing breastfeeding barriers on the post-natal ward and continued support in the community. Moreover, from a broader perspective, the findings of the research challenge the authoritative position of quantitative research and RCTs for informing evidence-based medicine.

Mathematical models for the frequency-dependent transmission of cultural traits

Walters, Caroline Elizabeth January 2014 (has links)
Cultural evolutionary theory is concerned with the social transmission of behaviours, beliefs or ideas that constitute culture. In humans, transmission of culture may be from one generation to the next or between individuals of the same generation. This thesis contains three models for the transmission of cultural traits, subject to frequency-dependent social learning. All models are formulated as a system of differential equations that cannot be solved analytically. By finding the equilibria of the systems and analysing their stability, the long-term behaviour of the systems may be determined. A mathematical model for the spread of drinking behaviour is presented, with a focus on total recovery. The equilibria of the system are found and a local stability analysis is performed. The system is found to have a parameter-dependent threshold at which the two equilibria switch stability. This indicates a change in the long-term system behaviour. Consequently, whether drinking behaviour dies out or becomes endemic may be predicted from the values of the model parameters. The rate at which individuals take up drinking behaviour is found to have the greatest effect on whether it becomes endemic. A model for both the linear and nonlinear frequency-dependent transmission of a cultural trait, with potential applications to binge drinking behaviour, is then investigated. The system equilibria cannot be found explicitly in terms of the model parameters. However, by considering different cases corresponding to regions of parameter space, qualitative differences in the long-term behaviour of the system are determined. By comparing the linear and nonlinear frequency-dependent models, the effect of conformity is determined for different regions of parameter space. Finally, a reaction-diffusion model for two competing languages, u and v, with a focus on language coexistence is presented. Language u is assumed to confer a status advantage to its speakers, thus switching languages is one-directional from v to u. Four constant system equilibria are found and global instability and stability thresholds are found for each solution. The coexistence of languages u and v is found to be globally stable, subject to certain parameter constraints and a sufficiently small initial population of speakers.

Wildlife tourism and conservation : an interdisciplinary evaluation of gorilla ecotourism in Dzanga-Sangha, Central African Republic

Shutt, Kathryn Ann January 2014 (has links)
Wildlife tourism is proliferating worldwide and has the potential to raise revenue for conservation as well as public awareness of conservation issues. However, concerns are growing about the potentially negative influence of such tourism on the wildlife involved. An absence of scientific information means that the potential costs of tourism are unidentified, tourism management strategies are not informed by scientific studies, and the ethics of habituating animals to humans remain relatively unexplored, though much discussed. This combination of ecological and anthropological research questions necessitates a bio-social approach. In this thesis I adopt an interdisciplinary approach to explore the factors that influence human-animal interactions and incorporate them into conservation biology. I use the Dzangha-Sangha Gorilla Habituation and Ecotourism Project in the Central African Republic as a case study. First, I explore the context of wildlife tourism and why people watch gorillas in the wild, their reactions to and behaviours during their gorilla encounters and the effect these encounters have on the visitors. People are drawn to gorillas because gorillas are human-like and tourists seek close encounters which are rare and authentic. Photography is a key motivation for tourists to visit gorillas but also a major cause of disturbance. Next, I detail a series of experiments I conducted to validate methods for measuring physiological stress in the western lowland gorilla. Using these methods, I then address the question of whether gorillas incur stress as a result of habituation and ecotourism activities, comparing faecal glucocorticoid metabolite levels (FGCMs) in four gorilla groups at different stages of habituation. Two (and possibly all three) of the human-contacted groups had significantly higher levels of FGCMs than unhabituated gorillas, and the group undergoing habituation had the highest FGCMs, suggesting that the process of habituation is perceived as a threat by gorillas, and that habituation reduces this response over time. FGCMs in habituated groups were significantly associated with increasing frequency of violation of the 7 m distance rule by observers and with a medical intervention but not with other measures of human pressure, suggesting that some elements of human-gorilla contact still elicit a GC response in habituated gorillas. I then demonstrate a positive association between FGCMs and parasite infection that may reflect hormonal suppression of the immune system in gorillas with higher FGCM levels, or, stimulation of the HPA axis as a result of increased parasite infection. Finally, I explore socio-cultural, epidemiological and management aspects of human interactions with gorillas in order to identify how and why visitors break regulations and the subsequent risk of human-gorilla disease transmission. Socio-cultural and emotive factors motivate people to get close to gorillas. Epidemiological factors interact with socio-cultural and emotive drivers to create a variable profile of disease risk presented by each person during their interactions with gorillas. The outcomes of this interdisciplinary risk assessment will inform policy makers as to how they may better protect gorillas, and other animals, from the potential negative effects of human disturbance resulting from habituation, tourism and research activities. The implications of this study will help to maximize the potential for such projects to be beneficial, low-impact and sustainable conservation solutions.

Battling with their past and fighting for their future : a study of the experiences and identities of a group of British Army students in UK higher education

Webb, Kim Vivienne January 2014 (has links)
Missing from academic literature exploring the learning experiences of under-represented student populations in UK higher education are accounts from students who have served, or are serving in the British Army. This lacuna is despite suggestions that the specific demands and obligations of military service may engender tensions for personnel when adapting to civilian life. Two purposes frame this investigation: 1.To gain an in-depth understanding of the experiences of students in UK higher education who have served, or are still serving, in the British Army and 2.To investigate how notions of identity affect the higher education experiences of this particular group of students. I frame the study within a critical emancipatory methodology drawing theoretically on the transformative paradigm that privileges sensitivity to social and cultural histories. Utilising qualitative methods, data sources comprise an internet based survey and nineteen autobiographical narrative interviews conducted by telephone, face-to-face and Skype. Analysis of data indicates that the experiences of British Army students are profoundly influenced by two main factors: a damaging educational past and the ideals and values they bring with them to higher education. Resilience is shown to reside at the interface of military and academic identities, fostering levels of endurance that significantly contribute to scholarly accomplishment as well as protection from educational practices that marginalise this student population. In this empirical study I assist in understanding the experiences of students during a time of profound change in higher education, significantly contributing to new epistemologies that describe how social disadvantage is experienced in the 21st century. More critically, this thesis makes a significant and original contribution to scholarship concerned with how qualities of resilience can foster academic flourishing.

The impact of mother-infant postnatal proximity and birth intervention on breastfeeding outcomes

Robinson, Lyn January 2014 (has links)
Employing an anthropological perspective, this thesis explores whether alterations in postnatal care can impact on lactation physiology and long-term breastfeeding outcomes. The intervention examined was designed to facilitate mother-infant close proximity on the postnatal ward (using a side-car crib, as opposed to a standard cot), and outcomes were examined for first-time mothers who intended to breastfeed. The intrinsic and extrinsic factors that influence the duration and exclusivity of breastfeeding were also investigated, particularly the role of labour analgesia and delivery interventions. I collected the data presented in this thesis via two separate research studies, both of which investigated the impact of hospital postnatal care on breastfeeding outcomes. Both studies were conducted at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. First, I conducted a non-randomised pilot study to investigate the effect of mother-infant postnatal proximity on maternal lactation physiology (maternal prolactin levels) and breastfeeding outcomes. The pilot study was considered an important stage prior to the implementation of a larger trial, and aimed to assess: the feasibility of novel data collection methods (dried blood spot (DBS) sampling), recruitment strategies, the management of the research and the required sample size. The pilot study included 57 women after receiving either a side-car crib or a standard cot on the postnatal ward, following an unassisted delivery. Blood spot analysis aimed to assess differences in prolactin increase. Results from the non-randomised pilot study generated useful information regarding the recruitment of participants and collection of biological samples via novel methods (DBS sampling), despite experiencing shortcomings with the analysis of the DBS samples. Recruitment rates were higher among women recruited from antenatal breastfeeding workshops, as opposed to women recruited following delivery on the postnatal ward. Descriptive statistics suggested that participants recruited at antenatal breastfeeding workshops reported high affluence than participants recruited on the postnatal ward. Equal numbers of participants in the two groups provided the DBS samples requested and data generated supported the use of DBS sampling as an alternative to venepuncture for research. The pilot study highlighted issues regarding the provisioning of the intervention (fidelity of implementation) and constraints to recruitment and data collection imposed by being a lone researcher. Second, I worked as the nominated Ph.D researcher on a large randomised controlled trial, referred to as the North-East Cot Trial (NECOT), where I contributed fully to the recruitment, data collection and management of the trial. I recruited participants at antenatal ultrasound clinics at 20 weeks gestation, midwifery staff provided the allocated cot type (side-car crib or standard cot) on the postnatal ward and data on breastfeeding duration were collected via a weekly telephone follow-up from birth until six months postpartum. I performed subgroup analysis on data from 366 first-time mother-infant dyads and employed three methods of analysis (intention-to-treat, per-protocol and as-treated) to assess the intervention on breastfeeding outcomes following differing birth experiences (vaginal unmedicated (VU), vaginal medicated (VM), instrumental medicated (IM) and caesarean section (CS)) and prenatal breastfeeding attitudes. The intrinsic and extrinsic factors that influence the duration and exclusivity of breastfeeding among these first-time mothers were also investigated. Results from the analyses indicated that birth interventions (VM, IM, CS) increased the risk of early breastfeeding cessation (both exclusive and any); postnatal ward cot type was not associated with breastfeeding duration among these groups. Following a VU delivery, facilitating mother-infant close proximity significantly improved the duration and exclusivity of breastfeeding among women whose commitment to breastfeeding was more uncertain. However, analysis also indicated that some women experienced inexplicably better breastfeeding outcomes following birth intervention (IM delivery). Maternal socio-demographic variables and prenatal breastfeeding attitudes increased the risk of early breastfeeding cessation at different time-points from birth to 26 weeks postpartum. Results from this analysis can be used to generate hypotheses for future research. This research highlighted that: (1) mother-infant dyads are more receptive to the benefits of postnatal proximity for breastfeeding following a VU delivery and (2) birth intervention and prenatal breastfeeding attitudes impact on breastfeeding longevity. Essentially, women rework breastfeeding behaviours in line with changing internal and external factors throughout the postpartum period, especially during times of vulnerability.

Exposing multiple malarias : a photo-ethnography of young people's malaria-related health practice in the Philippines

Iskander, Dalia January 2015 (has links)
This thesis explores malaria in the municipality of Bataraza in the Philippines. It shows how multiple versions of malaria exist inside (and in between) various bodies. These malarias are situated in both time and space, emerge interrelationally and are enacted through embodied practice. It focuses on young people in this context and shows how their identity is similarly enacted through practice. With this in mind, the thesis critically examines how photovoice, a participatory action research method can be used to both depict young people’s malaria-related health practice as well as potentially alter it. During a 15-week photovoice project, 44 school-going children took photographs of their lived experience of different malarias and worked in groups to identify possible changes they might make. As a result of engaging in the photovoice process, young people’s interactions with each other and their families appeared to change as well as their role in promoting health in relation to others. However, in contrast to the literature that highlights the ability of approaches like photovoice to ‘empower’ individuals to make changes to their lives by generating critical consciousness, this thesis makes a unique theoretical contribution by suggesting that photovoice might be effective precisely because it directly operates at and therefore interacts with the level of situated, relational and embodied practice. Taking seriously the context-specific, situated, relational and embodied nature of practice is a key message of this thesis, with important implications for behaviour change initiatives.

Conflicts and security in West African sub-region : a critique of the interwoven conflicts : Liberia and Sierra Loene

Idegwu, Joseph Chukwudi January 2015 (has links)
This thesis uses the case of the Liberian and Sierra Leonean civil wars to examine the extent to which: 1) identity issues, 2) natural resources issues, and 3) porous borders combine as catalysts to escalate, sustain the intensity and prolong conflict. The original contribution to knowledge is in the development and application of the tri-focal approach as a distinctive framework of conflict analysis. This draws upon New War theory to understand the Post-Cold War conflicts in Liberia and Sierra Leone. This tri-focal approach goes beyond causes to apply these three common factors (identity, natural resources and border issues), to compare these civil wars, but also to explain how the civil wars became linked, leading to sub-regional instability. The results of this study advance current debates and analyses factors that can combine to exacerbate conflict in Africa and other parts of the world. The research is mindful of the multiplicity of factors that can lead to conflict in fragile/weak states; but will not join the debate over the most potent conflict factors, a single factor conflict analysis, but will rather be more holistic in its analysis. This study concentrates on three conflict factors to situate the Liberia and Sierra Leone conflicts within the Post-Cold War context as highlighted by the New War theoretical framework. Kaldor (2007) and others use this theoretical perspective to analyse and examine new observable trends and changes in the pattern, nature and causes of civil wars and intrastate conflicts. This framework also applies this analysis to explaining how such conflicts are the results of a significant history of identity factor; resource based factors, both exacerbated by cross border linkages. This study treats the conflict factors holistically, not just in isolation; rather, they are part of systematic dynamic shaping peace and security in the region. It is hoped this will contribute to the on-going study on the sources of conflict, espec The research does not seek to refute the claims and arguments of theories that emphasise identity and/or natural resources as the cause of conflicts. Rather this study seeks to clarify and understand how identity and natural resources issues combine with porous borders, trans-national linkages among states and regional factors to exacerbate civil conflict. Accordingly, this study is distinct as far as it seeks to understand the interrelationship between these three catalysts, and how they could be applied to compare and at the same time explain the conflicts within a single research. To strengthen and validate the research, the thesis applied several qualitative and the importance of triangulation in conflict research (multiple empirical materials, combined with field research, using a semi-structured individual elite interviews and focus group discussions to establish a robust and diverse evidence base). It also applied two theories (failed states analogy and New War theory), and investigator triangulation (using different evaluators). This was to overcome the weakness or intrinsic biases and the problems arising from single method, single-observer and single-theory studies. The thesis argues that identity crises combined with the illicit exploitation of natural resources and shared porous and insecure borders in the case of Liberia and Sierra-Leone, explains the diffusion, intensity and ultimately the complex connectivity of both conflicts.

A comparative study of representations of the deployment of human rights by NGOs in West Bengal and London : a focus on agency and women's human rights

Boyce, Nicole January 2015 (has links)
This thesis explores the operationalisation of Human Rights at a grassroots level by NGOs. Specifically, it presents a comparative study of how activists in samples of NGOs in West Bengal and London framed their experiences of implementing human rights and development principles, focusing on characterisations of the deployment of human rights in programmes targeted at women beneficiaries. This thesis contributes to a growing literature on tensions between human rights as a universal ethical framework and situated experiences of social activism. It advances knowledge in the burgeoning field of cross-cultural feminism within the wider debate of social inequalities. It draws in Fricker’s work on epistemic injustice to enrich our understanding of this conversation. It examines activists’ accounts of how this abstract framework is implemented on the ground. The thesis explores how NGOs’ perceptions of local economic, cultural and social forces have influenced characterisations of their deployment of the human rights framework. This thesis analyses two linked datasets. The first is drawn from publicly accessible websites of a sample of NGOs in West Bengal and London, and was analysed using a text-mining application. The second dataset comprises interviews with activists from subsamples of NGOs in both countries. An analysis of the research materials identified commonalities underlying the activists’ accounts of their work. In this study, two taxonomies were developed through an iterative process of grounded analysis and comparison with the literature to capture the similarities and contrasts within the research materials. The first taxonomy was constructed to describe social activists’ perceptions of their ability to deploy the human rights framework. A second taxonomy was developed to describe different orientations towards the deployment of women’s human rights. These taxonomies formed analytic frameworks framed by activists’ different perceptions of the ability to engage with human rights and women’s human rights frameworks.

Happy and you know it? : a cultural exploration of people's experiences and perceptions of happiness

Hyman, Laura January 2011 (has links)
Happiness, rather than being a private, internal and subjective experience, is shaped, interpreted and articulated via culturally specific ways of thinking, being and acting. When producing accounts of happiness, people commonly situate themselves within a range of dominant discourses; it is in doing so that a shared sense of what happiness 'is' is created. This empirical study - through the analysis of the accounts of the experiences and perceptions of happiness of twenty-six British adults - explores the way in which discourses are used in this way, and furthermore, the way in which such an understanding of the use of discourse can assist in interrogating some of the determinants of happiness that are championed by proponents of social scientific work on the measurement of happiness. People position themselves in a range of dominant discourses. One set characterises happiness as asocial, that is, as something biological, 'natural' or resistant to wider social changes across time and space. Another set of discourses characterise happiness as being located within a complex normative framework in which there exists cultural guidelines on the way in which happiness ought to be displayed and experienced. The display of an 'appropriate' level of happiness entails a negotiation of two opposing norms that prescribe the undesirability of both persistent happiness and persistent unhappiness. Therapeutic discourse, which is one of the most widely used discourses in the production of accounts of happiness, characterises it as something individualised, internal and self-orientated. Selfknowledge and self-care are regarded here as two of the most important routes to happiness. Interpersonal relationships, financial situation and working life - as well as being three of the most 'important' determinants of happiness postulated by the aforementioned scholars of the measurement of happiness - are made sense of via all of these discourses. It is in this way that the role that each of these factors play in the experience of happiness may not be as linear or as straightforward as economists postulate.

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