Re: Meme pools?

Bill Benzon (
Sun, 22 Jun 1997 10:40:07 -0500

Message-Id: <>
Date: Sun, 22 Jun 1997 10:40:07 -0500
From: (Bill Benzon)
Subject: Re: Meme pools?

If Price,
>The cultural 'species' [or other taxonomic grouping] are, for me, things
>like Protestantus Mormonis, a member of the family 'chistianity' and the
>kingdom 'epistomemes', or boeing or Coca-cola [species perhaps of the
>family 'corporation' or 'Memetics list'; an emergent species still
>evolving its own rules, or 'English' or 'Welsh' or ??.
I have no particular objection to calling these things cultural species --
though I think their may be something peculiar going on with language. I'm
not sure languages should be considered as autonomous cultural species.
Perhaps it would be better to think of langauges as constituting the
nervous system of cultural species. That is, each cultural species has its
language which is just a tool for manipulating the memetic repertoire of
the species.

>Of course to even pursue the enquiry that way we have to start with the
>hypothesis that it is the organisation that is the phenotype [personally I
>prefer phemotype], but, as I have said before using the idea of memes, and
>Metaphoric Replicator Intentionality, seems to me to grant the prospect of
>a unifying paradigm for understanding a lot of observations on 'cultural
>evolution' which are already well established.

I think it's perfectly reasonable to think of corporate cultures as
cultural species & I'd think that an evolutionary approach would work.
I've taken a look at your organizational memetics paper and think that it
works. Of course, it should be obvious that you and I have a very
different take on how to go about this business so I can't see any point in
retransmitting one of my standard anti-orthodox-memetics memes. & you are
certainly astute in looking at the unwritten rules.

Are you familiar with Arthur Stinchcombe's _Information and Organizations_
(U Cal Press 1990)? Stinchcombe is interested in the way the "informatic
environment" shapes an organization's form and growth. His general idea
starts with the notion that businesses must survive in a world full of
uncertainty. They acquire information to reduce uncertainty as much as
possible. For any given business, some matters are more uncertain than
others. The business takes a form which will get it as much information as
possible about those uncertainties which are most critical to the business.
He looks at a variety of types of business and, among other things,
revisits the classic work of Alfred Chandler.

William L. Benzon 201.217.1010
708 Jersey Ave. Apt. 2A
Jersey City, NJ 07302 USA

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