The Concept of ‘Co-evolution’ and Its Application in the Social Sciences: A Review of the Literature

  • Eve Mitleton-KellyEmail author
  • Laura K. Davy
Part of the Understanding Complex Systems book series (UCS)


The Oxford Dictionary online defines co-evolution as a term originating in biology, meaning the influence of closely associated species on each other in their evolution”. Ehrlich and Raven [10] first used the term co-evolution in reference to biological evolution when looking at the relationship between the patterns of evolution of plants and butterflies, stating that it describes the simultaneous, reciprocal evolution of interacting populations. Reciprocity is an element of co-evolutionary relationships stressed by all definitions in the literature. In biology, co-evolution refers to the change of a biological entity triggered by the change of a related entity [42]. Each entity exerts certain pressures and influences over the other, affecting the evolutionary trajectory of each.


Pest Population Ecological Economic Social Science Literature Information System Development Information System Design 
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The London School of Economics and Political ScienceComplexity Research GroupLondonUK

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