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Chapter 4

SOC 1100 Chapter 4: Chapter 4 NOTES

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University of Guelph
SOC 1100
Deanna Behnke- Cook

Chapter 4 Society: refers to people who interact in a defined territory and share a culture  Gerhard and Jean Lenski describe how societies have changed over the past 10, 000 years and point to the importance of technology in shaping society Karl Marx: took a long historical view of societies, probing the roots of social conflict that arises from the positions of owners and workers in the production of material goods Max Weber tells a different tale, showing that the power of ideas shapes society. Weber contrasted the traditional thinking of simple societies with Emile Durkheim helps us see the different ways that traditional and modern societies hang together. Society is defined by type of solidarity Gehard and Jean Lensji: Society and Technology  The work of Gerhard and Jean Lenski helps us understand the great differences among societies that have existed throughout human history  The Lenski’s use the term socio-cultural evolution  Socio-cultural evolution: changes that occur as a society gains new technology  Societies with the simple’s technology have little control over nature, so they can support only a small number of people.  Investing or adopting more technology sends ripples of change throughout a society  The more technology a society has the faster it changes. Technologically simple societies change very slowly, so that even today their members live or less the life of their ancestors Societies, developed by Lenskis work: (1) Hunting gathering societies: -The simplest of all societies- the use of simple tools to hunt animals and gathers spend most of their time looking for game and collecting plants to eat -Because it takes a large amount of land to support even a few people, hunter\gatherer societies tend to stay together in extended family groups of just a few dozen members -They also must be nomadic, moving to find new sources of vegetation or to follow migrating animals -They rarely form permanent settlements -They depend on family to do many things. The family must get and distribute food, protect its members, and teach their children -Age and gender have some effect on what individuals do. Healthy adults do most of the work, leaving the very young and the very old to help out as they can - Men and women preform different tasks: Women gather vegetation (which provides most of the vegetation) while men take on hinting larger games -Hunters and gathers use simple tools -Their enemies are the force of nature: storms and droughts can kill off their food supply, and there is little they can do for someone who has a serious accident or illness -Hunter\gather societies are disappearing in society due to powerful technology (2) Horticulture and Pastoral Societies - Horticulture: the use of hand tools to raise crops -Inventions like putting holes in soil allowed people to give up gathering food and changed to them growing food. -Not all societies were quick to give up hunting and gathering. Thus many resorted to pastoralism: the domestication of animals -Growing plants and raising animals greatly increased food production, so population expanded to hundreds of people in one location -Once a society is capable of producing a material surplus- more resources than are needed to support the population- not everyone has to work at providing food -Greater specialization results: -Horticultural and pastoral societies have greater inequality, with elites using government power and military force to serve their own interests -Hunters and gathers are likely to believe that many spirits inhabit the world -Horticulturists are more likely to think of one God as their creator (3) Agrarian Societies -This was the development of agriculture: large-scale cultivation using plows harnessed to animals or more powerful energy sources -There was an important invention of the animal drawn plow, along with other breakthrough of the period- including irrigation, the wheel, writing, numbers and the various use of metals- this movement was called the dawn of civilization -Using animal drawn plows, allowed farmers to further cultivate fields far bigger than the garden sized plots planted by horticulturists. Plows have the added advantage of turning and irrigating the soil, making it more fertile -As a result, farmers could work the same land for generations, encouraging the development of permanent settlements -With this ability to grow a surplus of food and to transport goods using animal powered wagons, agrarian societies greatly expanded in size and population -Greater production meant greater specialization. Now there were dozens and dozens of distinct occupations -With so many people producing so many different things, money was required as a common standard of exchange, and the old barter system- by which people traded one thing for another- was abandoned -Agrarian societies have extreme social inequality, typically more than in modern societies such as our own. Large shares of the people are peasants or slaves who do the most of the work -Women’s importance in life is downsized -In agrarian societies, religion reinforces the power of elites by defining both loyalty and hard work as moral obligations -Agarian technology also gives people a greater range of life choices, which is the reason that agrarian societies differ more from one another than horticultural and pastoral societies do (4) Industrial Societies - Industrialism: which first took hold in the rich nations of today’s world, is the production of goods using advanced sources of energy to drive large machinery - Around 1750, people used water power, then steam boilers to operate mills and factories filled with larger machines - Industrial technology gave people such power over their environment that change took place faster than ever before. - Automobiles allowed people to move quickly almost anywhere and electricity powered homes full of such modern conveniences such as refrigerators, air cons, machines etc - Work also changed. In agrarian communities most men and women worked in the home or in fields. Industrialization drew people away from home to factories situated near energy sources that powered their machinery. The result was that workers lost close working relationships, strong family ties and many traditional values and believes - Occupational specialization became greater than ever - Industrial technology changed the family, too, reducing its traditional importance as the centre of social life - The greatest effect of industrialization has been to raise living standards, which increased fivefold in North American over the past century - Although it benefits only the elite few, industrial technology is so much more productive that incomes in general rise over time, and people throughout society have longer and more comfortable lives (5) Post-Industrial Societies: - Refers to technology that supports an information-based economy - Production in industrial societies centers on factories and machinery generating material goods; today , post industrial production relies on computers and other electronic devices that create, process, store, apply and transmit information - The information revolution, which is the heart of post industrial society is most evident in rich nations, yet new information technology affects the whole world The Limits of Technology  Poverty remains a reality for millions and men in Canada and a billion people world wide  Industrial and post industrial societies give us more personal freedom, but they cannot provide the sense of community was part of pre industrial life  An increasing number of the worlds nations have used nuclear technology to build weapons that could send the entire world back to the stone age  It also threatens the natural or physical environment Karl Marx: Society and Conflict -Marx explained how the industrial revolution changed Europe -Marx was astounded at how the riches produced by new technology ended up in the hands of only a few people. -At the heart of Marx’s thinking is the idea of social conflict, the struggle between segments’ of society over valued research -The most important type of social conflict was class conflict arising from the way a society produces material goods Society and Production -The economic system Marx observed turned a small part of the population into capitalists -Capitalists: people who own and operate factories and other businesses in pursuit of profit -Capitalism turns most of the population into industrial workers, whom are called proletarians -Proletarians: people who sell their labour for wages -To Marx, a system of capitalist’s production always ends up creating conflict between capitalists and workers. -To keep profits high, capitalist keep wages low. But workers want higher wages. Since profits and wages come from the same pool of funds, the result is conflict. -This conflict could end only with the end of capitalism itself -All societies are composed of social institutions: the major spheres of social life, or societal subsystems, organized to meet human need -All societies are composed of social institutions: the major spheres of social life, or societal subsystems, organized to meet human needs. (ex: social institutions include the economy, political systems, family and religion) -Materialism: which states that the means by which humans produce material goods shape their experience. Marx believed that the other social institutions all operate in a way that supports a society’s economy -Marx argued that the economy is a society’s real foundation -Marx viewed the economic systems as society’s infrastructure -Other social institutions, including the family, political systems and religion are built on these foundations, form society’s superstructure, and support the economy -For Marx, the economy in the industrial\capitalist societies trumps all of the other social institution’s that support it -Marx also notes that people living in these societies do not see how capitalism shapes the entire operation of their society: Marx rejected this thinking as false consciousness -False consciousness: explanations of social problems as the shortcoming of individuals rather than as the flaws of society Conflict and History - While some societies change at slow, evolutionary rates, other erupt in rapid, revolutionary changes - To Marx, early hunters and gathers formed primitive communist societies. - Communism is a system by which people commonly own and equally share the food and other things they produce. People in hunting and gathering societies do not have much but they share what they have - With technological advance comes social inequality. - Agriculture brings still more wealth to a society elite but does little for most other people. - Marx believed the state supported the feudal system in which the elite or nobility had all the power - The New way of thinking when productive forces started to break down the feudal order caused a class revolution in which capitalists overthrew the old agrarian elite - Industrialization led to the growth of the proletarian Capitalism and Class Conflict - Industrial capitalism contains two major social classes- the ruling class (own the means of production) and the oppressed (proletarians) who sell their labour - Marx used the term class conflict to refer to conflict between entire classes over the distribution of a society’s wealth and power - Because the proletarians had no personal ties to the capitalists, Marx saw no reason for them to put up with the oppression - Marx knew revolution would not come easy. First workers need to be aware of their oppression and see capitalism as the cause. Second, they must organize and act to address the problem. This means that false consciousness must be replaced with class consciousness - Class consciousness: Workers recognition of themselves as a class unified in opposition to capitalists and ultimately to capitalism itself - Marx predicted the outcome of the class overthrowing the capitalists: capitalists would be slow to band together and they would bring about their own undoing Capitalism and Alienation - Marx also condemned capitalist society’s for producing alienation: the experience of isolation and misery resulting from powerlessness - Workers are nothing more than a source of labour, to be hired and fired at will - Dehumanized by their jobs, workers find little satisfaction and feel unable to improve their situation - 4 Ways in which capitalism alienates workers 1. Alienation from the ac
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