Bernard is a second-year sociology student with a background in evolutionary biology and bioinformatics. He is interested in the sociology of science, culture, and social science genomics.
Social scientists have often borrowed concepts from evolutionary biology to explain changes in culture over time. For his summer DResSUP project, Bernard is committing to this metaphor by imagining cultural domains such as music or literature as ecosystems of different “species” or “lineages” that are born, expand/contract, and go extinct over time. In practice, he is using statistical models from evolutionary biology to explain historical patterns in the cultural diversity of two ecosystems: the sub-genres of metal music and themes in Danish folklore.
Fitting these models to a corpus of 115,000 metal bands or 138,000 folk tales, he hopes to characterize the growth of different lineages (genres or themes) across space and time, identify competitive or synergistic interactions between these lineages, and test hypotheses about the effects of exogenous historical events on the number and distribution of lineages.