***Section 3.1: Types of Societies is a DRAFT Version ***
Across time and space, the types of societies in which people live vary and evolve. In Section 3.1: Types of Societies, we will examine these different types of societies. In the past, before the Industrial Revolution and the widespread use of machines, societies were quite different than they are today. They were smaller and more rural, which means they were located mostly in the countryside and not in cities. People lived off of the resources in their local area and did not have access to the vast array of goods and services that are available today.
Economic production was limited in this type of society because it relied solely on the physical labor people could provide. This means that people had to work very hard just to meet their basic needs like food, clothing, and shelter. There were few specialized occupations, which means that people generally did everything themselves.
The very first occupation was that of hunter-gatherers. This means that people had to hunt animals and gather food from the land in order to survive. In this type of society, people had to be resourceful and knowledgeable about their environment in order to find enough food to eat. This lifestyle was quite difficult and required a lot of physical activity.
Today, we have access to many more resources and goods than people did in the past. This is because of the technological advancements that have occurred since the Industrial Revolution. We now have machines and other technologies that can do the work that used to be done by humans. This has allowed us to specialize in certain occupations and to produce goods and services on a much larger scale.
Hunter-gatherer societies were the basic structure of human society until about 10,000–12,000 years ago (Appiah, 2006). These societies were based around kinship or tribes and relied on their surroundings for survival by hunting wild animals and foraging for uncultivated plants for food (Macionis, 2017). When resources became scarce, the group moved to a new area to find sustenance, meaning they were nomadic (Macionis, 2017). Hunter-gatherer groups are quickly disappearing as the world’s population explodes (Appiah, 2006).
Roughly 7,500 years ago, human societies began to recognize their ability to tame and breed animals and to grow and cultivate their own plants (Macionis, 2017). Pastoral societies, such as the Maasai villagers, rely on the domestication of animals as a resource for survival (Macionis, 2017). Unlike earlier hunter-gatherers who depended entirely on existing resources to stay alive, pastoral groups were able to breed livestock for food, clothing, and transportation, and they created a surplus of goods (Macionis, 2017). Herding, or pastoral, societies remained nomadic because they were forced to follow their animals to fresh feeding grounds. Around the time that pastoral societies emerged, specialized occupations began to develop, and societies commenced trading with local groups (Murdock, 2021).
Horticultural societies formed in areas where rainfall and other conditions allowed them to grow stable crops (Macionis, 2017). They were similar to hunter-gatherers in that they largely depended on the environment for survival, but since they didn’t have to abandon their location to follow resources, they were able to start permanent settlements (Macionis, 2017). This created more stability and more material goods and became the basis for the first revolution in human survival (Murdock, 2021).
Around 3000 B.C.E., an explosion of a new technology known as the Agricultural Revolution made farming possible—and profitable (Macionis, 2017). Farmers learned to rotate the types of crops grown on their fields and to reuse waste products such as manure as fertilizer, which led to better harvests and bigger surpluses of food (Macionis, 2017). As resources became more plentiful, social classes became more divisive. Those with more resources could afford better living and developed into a class of nobility (Murdock, 2021). The difference in social standing between men and women increased. As cities expanded, ownership and preservation of resources became a pressing concern (Murdock, 2021).
The ninth century gave rise to feudal societies (Macionis, 2017). These societies contained a strict hierarchical system of power based on land ownership and protection. The nobility, known as lords, placed vassals in charge of pieces of land (Macionis, 2017). In return for the resources that the land provided, vassals promised to fight for their lords. Ultimately, the social and economic system of feudalism failed and was replaced by capitalism and the technological advances of the industrial era (Macionis, 2017).
The Industrial Revolution of the eighteenth century in Europe marked a dramatic increase in technological innovation and productivity (Macionis, 2017). Before this era, work was primarily powered by human labor or animal power, but the creation of the steam engine by James Watt and Matthew Boulton in 1782 revolutionized industry and work (Macionis, 2017). This invention replaced the need for twelve horses and allowed for mass production at a faster pace and a better price.
New inventions, such as mechanical seeders and threshing machines, allowed farmers to produce more food and created a surplus that led to urbanization (Macionis, 2017). Cities became more diverse, and people were no longer tied to the land but rather sought upward mobility for themselves and their families (Macionis, 2017). Education and healthcare were more accessible, and products like paper and glass became readily available to the average person.
As society changed, social scientists emerged to study the relationship between the individual members of society and society as a whole (Crossman, 2021). Many people migrated to cities for work, which led to the overcrowding of urban areas and the rise of poverty and filth (Crossman, 2021). This led to the formation of labor unions and laws that set mandatory conditions for employees to prevent exploitation and protect workers’ rights (Crossman, 2021).
As a result of increased productivity and technology, the old social order was replaced by the new power players, such as the Rockefellers and the Vanderbilts, who amassed fortunes in business and used their influence to control aspects of government (Macionis, 2017). However, these changes did not come without cost, and the exploitation of workers was a common occurrence during this era. Despite this, social mobility increased, and the middle class grew.
The Industrial Revolution marks the birth of sociology, as it was during this period that life changed rapidly, and the long-established traditions of agricultural society no longer applied to life in the larger cities (Crossman, 2021). The introduction of new technology at the end of the nineteenth century ended the industrial age, but many of our social structures and ideas, such as family, childhood, and time standardization, have a basis in industrial society (Macionis, 2017).
In conclusion, the Industrial Revolution of the eighteenth century marked a significant change in the way people worked and lived. With the introduction of new technology and increased productivity, people were able to achieve upward mobility, and society changed rapidly. However, this change was not without its challenges, and social scientists emerged to study the relationship between individuals and society as a whole. The legacy of industrial society continues to shape our social structures and ideas today.
Urbanization is the process of the growth and expansion of urban areas, including the migration of people from rural areas to cities. Urbanization has been a major trend throughout human history, with the pace of urbanization increasing in recent decades due to industrialization, economic development, and globalization. Urbanization is a complex and multidimensional process that has significant impacts on social, economic, environmental, and political factors in society.
One of the most significant impacts of urbanization is its effect on the environment. Urban areas are often characterized by high levels of pollution, congestion, and environmental degradation. As cities grow, they require more energy, resources, and infrastructure to support their populations. This often leads to increased energy consumption, air and water pollution, and depletion of natural resources. Urbanization also contributes to climate change through the release of greenhouse gases from transportation, industry, and buildings (Glaeser, 2014).
In addition to its environmental impacts, urbanization has significant social and economic effects. Urbanization can lead to increased job opportunities, access to education and healthcare, and improved quality of life for some residents. However, it can also lead to social inequality and exclusion, as disadvantaged groups are often left behind in the development process. Urbanization can also lead to social fragmentation, with communities becoming disconnected and isolated from each other. This can lead to increased crime, social unrest, and political instability (Rosenbaum, 2018).
Another important factor in the process of urbanization is the role of governance and planning. Effective urban planning and governance can help to mitigate some of the negative impacts of urbanization and ensure that cities are sustainable, livable, and inclusive. This includes the provision of basic infrastructure and services such as housing, transportation, water, and sanitation, as well as the promotion of social inclusion and environmental sustainability (UN-Habitat, 2021).
However, governance and planning are not always effective in ensuring that urbanization is sustainable and equitable. Many cities in developing countries, in particular, are characterized by informal settlements, inadequate infrastructure, and limited access to basic services. In these contexts, urbanization can exacerbate poverty, inequality, and social exclusion and lead to the emergence of informal economies and social systems (Brenner et al., 2012).
In recent years, there has been growing recognition of the importance of sustainable and inclusive urbanization. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) include a specific goal for sustainable cities and communities (SDG 11), which highlights the need for cities to be inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable. The New Urban Agenda, adopted by the United Nations in 2016, emphasizes the need for urban planning and governance to prioritize sustainable development and human rights (UN-Habitat, 2016).
In conclusion, urbanization is a complex and multidimensional process that has significant impacts on social, economic, environmental, and political factors in society. Urbanization can lead to both positive and negative outcomes, depending on the governance and planning approaches adopted. Effective urban planning and governance are essential to ensuring that urbanization is sustainable, inclusive, and equitable. The challenges and opportunities of urbanization are likely to continue in the coming decades as the pace of urbanization increases and the world’s population becomes more urbanized.
Information societies are a relatively new phenomenon in the course of human history. Unlike industrial societies, which were based on the production of material goods, information societies are based on the creation and dissemination of knowledge and services. Digital technology has been the driving force behind this shift, with computer innovators like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates being the equivalents of the business titans of the Industrial Revolution, such as John D. Rockefeller and Cornelius Vanderbilt (Castells, 1996).
The rise of the information society has led to a significant change in the way people work. In industrial societies, work was largely manual labor or factory-based, with people engaged in the production of goods. However, in information societies, work has become more service-oriented. The members of these societies tend to be employed in jobs that involve the production or use of knowledge, such as software programmers or business consultants (Webster, 2002).
In an information society, power and wealth are not based on control of the means of production but on the ability to manage and distribute information. The control of information is a key source of power in these societies, and access to education is crucial for success. People who lack the technical skills required for success in an information society are at a disadvantage. Social classes in these societies are often divided based on access to education and the ability to use digital technology effectively (Castells, 1996).
The rise of the information society has led to significant changes in the economy, society, and culture. In addition to the shift from the production of goods to the production of services, there has been a fundamental change in the way people communicate, share information, and form social networks. The Internet and social media platforms have facilitated the creation of new forms of social interaction that have revolutionized the way people connect and communicate (Castells, 2001).
However, the rise of the information society has also led to new challenges and problems. One of the major concerns is the issue of the digital divide, which refers to the gap between those who have access to digital technology and those who do not. This gap can create significant inequality in terms of access to education, job opportunities, and other important resources. There is also a concern about the impact of digital technology on privacy, as personal information is increasingly being shared and used by corporations and governments (Webster, 2002).
In conclusion, the rise of the information society has brought about significant changes in the way people work, communicate, and interact with each other and the types of societies in which they live. While these changes have led to many positive developments, such as new forms of social interaction and increased access to knowledge, they have also brought about new challenges and problems. Access to education and technical skills are essential for success in an information society, and there is a need to address the issue of the digital divide and the impact of digital technology on privacy.
Before the Industrial Revolution, societies were smaller and more rural, relying on local resources for survival. Economic production was limited to physical labor, with few specialized occupations. Hunter-gathering was the first occupation, requiring resourcefulness and knowledge of the environment. Technological advancements since the Industrial Revolution have provided access to more resources and goods, allowing for specialization and increased production on a larger scale.
Human societies progressed from hunter-gatherer societies based around kinship or tribes to pastoral societies that domesticated animals and bred livestock and horticultural societies that grew stable crops. The Agricultural Revolution made farming possible and led to social classes becoming more divisive. Feudal societies arose in the ninth century with a hierarchical system of power based on land ownership, which eventually failed and was replaced by capitalism and technological advancements during the industrial era.
The Industrial Revolution of the 18th century marked a significant change in the most prevalent types of societies, where new technology and increased productivity allowed for upward mobility and rapid social change. The introduction of new inventions like the steam engine and mechanical seeders allowed for mass production at a faster pace and a better price. This change led to the growth of cities and the emergence of labor unions and laws to protect workers’ rights. Despite the challenges, the legacy of industrial society continues to shape our social structures and ideas today.
Urbanization is the process of the growth and expansion of urban areas, which has been a major trend throughout human history. It has significant impacts on social, economic, environmental, and political factors in society, and its pace has increased in recent decades. Urbanization can have positive impacts, such as increased job opportunities and access to education and healthcare, but also negative impacts, like social inequality, environmental degradation, and social fragmentation. Effective urban planning and governance are essential to ensuring that urbanization is sustainable, inclusive, and equitable in this type of society. The challenges and opportunities of urbanization are likely to continue in the coming decades.
The information society is a recent phenomenon based on the creation and dissemination of knowledge and services facilitated by digital technology. In this type of society, work has shifted from manual labor to more service-oriented jobs. In this type of society, power and wealth are based on the control and distribution of information. The digital divide and privacy concerns are significant issues. The rise of the information society has led to significant changes in the economy, society, and culture, with new opportunities and challenges.
Word Count: 2,756
rural societies, local resources, physical labor, specialized occupations, hunter-gathering, pastoral societies, horticultural societies, Agricultural Revolution, social class divisions, feudal societies, technological advancements, mass production, social change, urbanization, labor unions, workers’ rights, effective urban planning, positive impacts, negative impacts, information society, digital technology, knowledge creation, knowledge dissemination, power, wealth, information control, digital divide
References and Further Reading
Appiah, K. A. (2006). Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers. W. W. Norton & Company.
Atkinson, R. (2008). The evidence on the impact of gentrification: New lessons for the urban renaissance? European Journal of Housing Policy, 8(4), 383-406. https://doi.org/10.1080/14616710802475846
Castells, M. (1983). The city and the grassroots: A cross-cultural theory of urban social movements. University of California Press.
Glaeser, E. L. (2011). Triumph of the city: How our greatest invention makes us richer, smarter, greener, healthier, and happier. Penguin.
Jensen, O. B. (2018). The sociality of urban space. Palgrave Macmillan.
Lefebvre, H. (1991). The production of space (D. Nicholson-Smith, Trans.). Wiley-Blackwell.
Macionis, J. J. (2017). Sociology (16th ed.). Pearson.
Murdock, G. (2021). Cultural hegemony. In Ritzer, G., & Rojek, C. (Eds.), Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology (2nd ed.). Wiley Blackwell.
OpenStax. (2021). Types of Societies. In Introduction to Sociology 3e. OpenStax.
Park, R. E., Burgess, E. W., & McKenzie, R. D. (1925). The city. University of Chicago Press.
Sassen, S. (1991). The global city: New York, London, Tokyo. Princeton University Press.
Wirth, L. (1938). Urbanism as a way of life. American Journal of Sociology, 44(1), 1-24.
Modification History File Created: 05/07/2023 Last Modified: 05/07/2023
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