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University of Guelph
SOC 1100
Linda Gerber

Sociology Midterm Chapter 4: Society Society: People who interact in a defined territory and share a culture. Approach of Gerhard and Jean Lenski: Society and Technology • Socio-cultural evolution: a term that the Lenskis used to mean changes that occur as a society gains new technology. - Societies with simple technology have little control over naure because they can only support a small number of people. - Societies with complex technology (ex. Cars, cell phones) can support hundreds of millions of people and are therefore more affluent. - The more technology a particular society has, the faster it changes. Five types of societies defined by technology • Hunter/Gatherer Societies - The use of simple tools to hunt animals and gather vegetation - Today not many exist but when our species appeared 3 million years ago, all humans were hunters and gatherers - They have little ability to control their environment, spend most of their time looking for game and collecting plants to eat. Very little free time - Depend on their families; get and distribute food, protect members and teach children - Have a shaman or spiritual leader who also has to work to find food - Socially Equal society - Use simple tools - Storms and droughts can kill off food supply; accident and illness is a problem • Horticultural and Pastoral Societies - Horticulture is the use of hand tools to raise crops - Allowed people to give up gathering and start growing their own food - Some hunters and gatherers did not want to change their ways so they adopted pastoralism the domestication of animals. - Populations expanded to hundreds of people in one location because growing plants and raising animals greatly increased food production - Once a society produces material surplus – more resources than are needed to support the population – not everyone is needed to work to provide food. - Results in Greater specialization - Compared to hunter/gatherer societies, they are more socially diverse - Greater inequality because of elites using government power, military force etc. - Leaders can only control a small number of people because they do not have the ability to communicate or to travel over large distances. - Religion: Hunters and gatherers believe many spirits inhabit the world. Horticulturists are more likely to think of one God as Creator and Pastoral societies believe God is directly involved in the well- being of the entire world. • Agrarian Societies - Agriculture: large-scale cultivation using plows harnessed to animals or more powerful energy sources. - Often called “the dawn of civilization” – when the wheel, animal- drawn plow, irrigation, writing, numbers and use of various metals were all invented. - Farmers now able to work the same land for generations, encouraging the development of permanent settlements. - Agrarian societies expanded in size and population - With greater production came even more specialization - Barter system abandoned and now currency was used - Extreme social inequality – peasants or slaves do most of the work - In hunter/gatherers and horticulturists, women provide most of the food, which gives them socio-economic importance. But agriculture raises men to a position of dominance. - Agrarian technology gives people a greater range of life choices. • Industrial Societies - Industrialism: The production of goods using advanced sources of energy to drive large machinery. - This technology gave people such power over their environment that change took place faster than ever before. - Automobiles, electricity, electronic communication (telegraph, telephone), radio, television – gave people the ability to reach others instantly all over the world. - Industrialization drew people away from home to factories situated near energy sources that power their machinery - Result: workers lose close working relationships, strong family ties and many of the traditional values, beliefs and customs that guided agrarian life. - Occupational specialization became greater than ever. - Rapid change and tendency to move for employment make social life more anonymous, increase cultural diversity, and promote subcultures and countercultures. - Technology changes family, as family no longer serves as the main setting for work, learning and religious worship. - Greatest effect: to raise living standards which increased fivefold in North America. - Much more productive, incomes in general rise over time and people throughout this society have longer and more comfortable lives. - Social inequality decreases slightly because industrial societies provide extended schooling and greater political rights. • Post- Industrial Societies - Post-industrialism: a term sociologist Daniel Bell coined referring to technology that supports an information-based economy. - Production relies on computers and other electronic devices that create, process, store and apply information. - Uses less and less of its labour force but more jobs become available for those who process information ex. Teachers, writers, clerical workers, sales managers. - Information Revolution most evident in rich nations, yet new information technology affects whole world. - At the heart of globalization. Karl Marx: Society and Conflict -Karl Marx is an early giant in the field of sociology who was a keen observer of how the Industrial Revolution changed Europe and his influence continues today. - Social Conflict: The struggle between segments of society over valued resources. Society and Production -Capitalists: people who own and operate factories and other businesses in pursuit of profits. - Proletarians: people who sell their labour for wages. Capitalism turns most of the population into industrial workers. - Production always ends up creating conflict between capitalists and workers according to Marx. - Social Institutions: The major spheres of social life, or societal subsystems, organized to meet human needs. Ex. Economy, political system, family, religion, education. -Marx argued that the economy dominates all other institutions and defines the true nature of society. -Materialism: states that the means by which humans produce material goods shape their experiences -Marx saw the economic system as society’s infrastructure where all other social institutions are built on this foundation to form society’s superstructure and support the economy. -False Consciousness: explanations of social problems as the shortcomings of individuals rather than as the flaws of
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