What is a Society?
The definition of ''society'' comes from sociology. A society is a group of people who live together in order to assist each other in living life and improving their circumstances. There are varying levels of cohesion and many different elements in different types of societies.
There are three types of society (early, developing, and advanced) throughout the world, and each of these has two forms.
The two forms of society that have been classified as being ''early'' are hunter-gatherer societies and pastoral societies. These societies did not have firm ties to specific geographical areas, and they were mostly concerned with providing for their immediate and extended families.
Developing societies include horticultural or agricultural societies, in which individuals grew or maintained crops to provide food and other resources for larger groups of people than their families.
Advanced societies are industrial and post-industrial societies in which technology and manufacturing for large groups of people are the most important aspects regarding economics. Each of these forms of society has economic, political, social, and cultural aspects that are positive and negative.
While there are many different characteristics of the various forms and types of societies, and while their immediate purposes and priorities are distinct, they all have one common goal: the survival of the individuals. As communities become more organized and developed, another major priority is created: the improvement of the quality of life of individuals who live in that society.
The common elements of all societies, regardless of their type or form, include:
- Multiple individuals
- An agreement to live together
- Mutual dependence on the actions of other individuals for some aspect of life.
Types of Society
There are many different types of society. The three main types are early societies, developing societies, and advanced societies.
Early societies mostly focused on the cultivation of resources that were readily available to them through hunting and gathering and taking care of domesticated animals. As far as gaining resources was concerned, early societies used those that they could access through walking or using basic tools. Developing societies created systems of creating and harvesting resources through horticulture and agriculture. The primary products of these systems were needs such as food and shelter. In advanced societies, the major products of manufacturing and industry were wants such as technology and advanced communication. Also, advanced societies shifted from focusing on physical goods to spreading ideas. As a result, advanced societies have experienced breakthroughs in scientific research.
The first type of the different types of society is early society. The two major forms of society in this category are hunter-gatherer societies and pastoral societies.
Hunter-gatherer societies were the first form of society to exist. Individuals who lived in hunter-gatherer societies hunted animals that surrounded them in their natural environment and gathered plants that had already existed. Hunting included such activities as trapping and fishing.
Pastoral societies began around twelve thousand years ago. They domesticated animals and began raising them for food and menial labor purposes.
The main characteristics of hunter-gatherer societies are:
- Relative isolation of families and individuals, and small community sizes
- Subsistence based on easily-available resources such as plants and animals in the surrounding environment
- Nomadic lifestyle
- Division of labor based on the sex of the individual (men hunted and women gathered)
The main characteristics of pastoral societies include:
- Domestication and raising of animals
- Increase in the specialization of duties, as different individuals would raise and domesticate different animals
- Less frequent need for moving from place to place
The second of the different types of society is a developing society. In this category are horticultural societies and agricultural societies. Individuals in these societies raised plants and animals expressly for the purposes of using them for food or other purposes.
Horticultural societies were created between ten and twelve thousand years ago in Latin America, the Middle East, and Asia. Horticulture refers to the raising of plants to reap the benefits of their individual properties. In fact, the entire society was essentially built around the life cycle of plants and how easily they could be cultivated.
Agricultural societies arose around eight and a half thousand years ago during the time period known as the ''Agricultural Revolution.'' Agriculture refers to raising plants primarily in order to use them for food.
These products could be used to benefit the individuals and their families, the food and medicinal products could also be given to others in society. Individuals could also begin to specialize in certain food or medicine products. For example, one family could focus on growing squash, while another could grow corn.
The main characteristics of agriculture societies are:
- Use of animals for labor, such as pulling plows
- Development of towns, followed by the development of cities
- Initiation of trade, as regions that produced certain types of food would
- Increased specialization, including the development of jobs other than those that were related to food production
- Virtual cessation of the need to move from place to place, as there was essentially a constant source of food through local production as well as trade
The third type of the different types of societies is advanced societies. The two forms of society in this category are industrial and post-industrial societies. These societies are directly focused on manufacturing goods and rendering services. Industrial societies are focused on the mass production of goods using machinery and human labor. Post-industrial societies still have industrial practices and products, but they have expanded from these to focus on providing services (such as electrical repair or medical operations).
The main characteristics of industrial societies include:
- Adoption of mass forms of communication
- Increased job specialization
- Development of electrical technology
- Invention and innovation in the field of transportation, resulting in the increased ability of individuals to travel long distances
- Rise of urban societies, which have higher population density than regular towns and cities. More people began to live in the cities rather than in agricultural areas.
The main characteristics of post-industrial societies include:
- Increased emphasis on the provision of services rather than the creation and manufacturing of goods
- Stimulation of scientific research in many areas, especially that influence the creation of technologies
- Expectation that higher education institutions will produce graduates who can harness new technologies and advance scientific knowledge.
- Transition from working in cities to working closer to home. With the advance of telecommunication, working in the home is becoming increasingly possible.
Examples of Society
There are many examples of societies, including historical societies and modern societies.
Example of Developing Society
Early Polynesian cultures practiced horticulture, which has had an enduring effect on the Polynesian culture that can be seen today. In fact, people there introduced horticultural practices to the Hawaiian islands around 300 C.E. Polynesians not only used plants for medicinal purposes and food, but they also used them to create various items of material culture. For example, coconut milk was used as a sealant in Polynesian canoes.
Example of Advanced Society
One example of an advanced, industrial society is the United States during the Second Industrial Revolution. During this time period, factories, railroads, and other societal innovations enabled mass production, transportation, and shipping. Cities also became urbanized, which led to a dramatic increase in population density. The invention of the telephone by Alexander Graham Bell brought about quick communication that made transportation and production even more efficient. With all of these positive effects came many negative counterparts. Factory workers were paid small wages and had very hazardous working conditions. The environments around the major, urban cities were polluted by the factories, railroads and other technological advances.
A society is a group of individuals who have agreed to live together and who seek to help each other survive and improve their quality of life. There are three main types of society: early, developing, and advanced societies. Early societies included hunter-gatherer and pastoral societies. Developing societies are horticultural and agricultural societies. Advanced societies are industrial and post-industrial. Although all of these forms have different immediate goals and purposes, they all seek to preserve their individuals.
Hunter-gatherer societies were the earliest form of human society. The main source of resources in these societies was hunting (including trapping and fishing) and gathering edible plants. They were replaced around twelve thousand years ago with pastoral societies. Ten thousand years ago, horticultural societies arose in Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East. Agricultural societies began to exist during the Agricultural Revolution and developed a system of orderly plant cultivation. Industrial societies were created during the First Industrial Revolution around two hundred fifty years ago. These societies initiated the development of forms of mass communication, increased specialization of jobs, and technology that took advantage of electricity. Industrial societies also resulted in innovations in transportation, shipping, and residential areas. Also, more people began to live in the city than in agricultural areas. The most recent form of society is the post-industrial revolution. This period focuses on scientific research, the spread of ideas, providing services rather than goods, an expectation that higher education will produce graduates who will be able to handle technology, and a shift in the work environment from cities to homes.
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Types of Societies in Sociology - Writing Prompts
Outline Prompt 1:
Create an outline that lists and describes the six types of societies in sociology.
Example: Begin your first heading with Roman numeral I, Earliest Societies. Under Earliest Societies, you list Hunting and Gathering Societies and Pastoral Societies. For Roman number II, you would have Developing Societies. Under Developing Societies, you have Horticultural Societies and Agricultural (Agrarian) Societies. Finally, for Roman number III, you have Advanced Societies. In that category, you list Industrial Societies and Post-Industrial Societies. Make sure to also include sub-sections in your outline that list the characteristics of each society (for instance, working from home is a feature of post-industrial societies).
Study Prompt 1:
Create a set of flashcards that list all the characteristics of each society. You have one card per characteristic. Each time you draw a card, either by yourself or with a partner, state what type of society that characteristic belongs to.
Example: If you draw a card that says, "They only move when their animals can no longer graze on the land," then you know that this is a characteristic of a pastoral society.
Write an essay that explains the effects of the Agricultural Revolution on agrarian societies. Tip: Think of how the use of animals might make farm labor more efficient and easier for humans, and the kinds of effects this may have on the society as a whole.
What is a simple definition of society?
A society is a group of people who agree to live together and work together. The most important priority to this group is the survival of the individuals in the group. As societies change, the other goals, and the tactics used to accomplish the goal of survival, also change.
What are the three types of societies?
The three types of societies are early, developing, and advanced societies. Early societies include hunter-gatherer and pastoral societies. Developing societies are horticultural and agricultural. Advanced societies are industrial and post-industrial.
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