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Lecture 1 - Sept 13.docx

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Matthias Koenig

SOC256H1F- Lives and Societies Lecture 1- Tuesday September 13, 2011 What is the effect of very big differences in type of society on human lives? - We will look at various societies: hunter-gatherer, farming, industrial, post-industrial What do we mean by type of society? What in the life course do we relate to types of societies? What is a type of society? – Define with most leverage Lenski readings- explain what they think are the critical differences between types of societies, how organized into packages, why there has been a certain pattern of evolution – Lenski et al. do nothing to link this to the individual life course because they only work at macro level (level of societies) We will put Lenski’s ideas together with interesting aspects of the life course Things to be explained: - Qualitative differences in kinds of lives o Nature of childhood in different societies  Ex. Hunter-gatherer societies- how many kids going to school? = 0 No such thing as formal school, they are very simple societies, imitate grown-ups (informal Vs. Our society where kids go to school in highly organized manner- new in human history related to emergence of industrialization Adulthood looked at via lens of work o How much lives differ within a type of society  Huge contrast between our world and a simpler society (like hunter- gatherer)  How many life courses can you have? We have more options today in terms of our biographies due to sophisticated economy we live in… o How much lives vary between societies of a given type  Hunting-gathering societies not all the same- interesting differences- concerning whether relationships between men and women (marital, parent…) are unequal or close to equal? Why varies between simple and similar societies o Standing of life stages  Each society has an idea of what life consists of – stages of life  Life stages – All societies have naming systems for life stages – what is different between societies is the social status or prestige of different life stages  Ex. Status of elderly in different societies  Timing of life stages  Becoming an adult- when?  Rates of birth and death  Basic demography- facts of life and death  Birth rates differ from point of view of mother  Transitions and rites *formal ceremonies*  Transition rite- any formally defined, culturally shared ceremony that marks an important step in life o Ex. Wedding – marks single to married, Graduation, First Child  Transition rite- social inventions meant to accomplish some social objective This will be the topic of your essay- find a volunteer- someone who had experienced a transition rite in two different societies (differences- relate to 2 different societies- ex. Wedding, funeral, etc.) Can be something they witnessed- not experienced personally… Question: What kinds of differences among societies will help us to define different kinds of societies? What is important about different kinds of societies? Lenski et al. argues it is “the level of the technology in a society” – the primary mode of subsistence production- what is the primary technology necessary for keeping people fed, clothed, sheltered etc.? They argue this is a critical thing to look at because the level of technology sets strong limits on what is possible in a society, so affects many other things in the society and life course. Table 4.1 found in reader |Criteria for Classifying Primary Types of Human Societies| - basic types of societies displayed on this table Production technology in hunting and gathering societies- they hunt and gather! Kuhn have no use for kayak… know of a beetle that produces poisonous secretions, dip tips of wooden arrows in juice of beetle… People are inventive- if it works they keep on doing it… primary technology has been the same, changed when they encountered more highly developed people. Simple Agrarian (on table 4.1) – use of the plough – huge advance in farming Advanced Agrarian- not just a plough- you now have iron and can make proper tools Industrial society- inanimate energy sources instead of ploughs pulled by people or animals, have steam engines, water wheels, more sophisticated technology = industrialization *Special cases - Some that do not fit in Table 4.1 – Maritime societies- simple like hunting and gathering- not much high technology- located in places where there is abundant supply of fish (Ex: BC, settle near salmon filled river) this is different from hunting and gathering because maritime did not have to move around, they were settled, whereas hunting and gathering were nomadic Table 4.2 – “Median Size of Societies, by Type of Society” Food required* - increase in ability to produce food when you go to more advanced societies- thus more capable to house greater population – aka population boom – have more children – Kuhn have a natural birth control which relies on level of body fat to conception – women who do not eat, do not have children (unlikely to conceive) – for the Kuhn, once a woman had a baby she is then caring for child, working hard More sophisticated society- more to rely on by population Median size of societies- Kuhn tend to live in clusters of 40 – small settlements, big enough to help one another, but small enough they will not exhaust all supplies The size of a society is an important feature of it, it w
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