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Chapter 4

SOC 1100 Chapter Notes - Chapter 4: San People, Sociocultural Evolution, Pastoralism

Course Code
SOC 1100
Linda Gerber

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Chapter 4
Society – all human beings live in societies. Societies change or evolve over time, and differ around the
world in many important ways.
Society: people who interact in a defined territory and share a culture.
Gerhard and Jean Lenski – importance of technology in shaping society; Marx – history; Weber – ideas;
Durkheim – tradition and modern hang together
Socio-cultural evolution: changes that occur as society gains new technology.
- inventing or adopting any new technology sends ripples of change throughout society
Five types of societies, defined by their technology
Hunter/Gatherer: use simple tools to hunt animals and gather vegetation
*spend most time looking for game and collecting plants to eat
*people stay together in extended family groups
*depends on family to do many things (get & distribute food, protect members, teach children)
*men are hunters, women are gatherers
*religion: shaman or spiritual leader, works to find food too
~ more equal society ~
Horticultural & Pastoral: horticulturalism ~ use of hand tools to raise crops; pastoralism ~
domestication of animals
*raise crops and animals instead of looking and hunting; increased food production; population
expanded to hundreds of people in one location; pastoralists remained nomadic, horticulturalists formed
settlements only relocating if soil gave out
*once material surplus reached, not as many have to work to provide food, recreation introduced;
families who produce more than others become richer and more powerful; greater inequality
*religion: horticultural – God is our Creator; pastoral – God is directly involved in the well-being
of the entire world.
Agrarian: large-scale cultivation using plows harnessed to animals or more powerful energy sources
*dawn of civilization (5000 years ago); animal-drawn plow irrigation, wheel, writing, numbers,
*crops were bigger, tools aerated soil making it more fertile, encouraged more permanent
settlements, agrarian societies grew in size and population with ability to transport goods, more
occupations, currency
*extreme inequality, even more than in modern societies; large share of people are peasants or
slaves who do most of the work, elites have time for recreation or study, art, literature; women left with
support tasks (weeding, carrying water)
*religion reinforces power of elites by defining both loyalty and hard work as moral obligations
Industrial: production of goods using advanced sources of energy to drive large machinery
*up to now muscles of humans and animals did the work; began using water power, team boilers,
people had power over their environment, change was quick, sparked founding of sociology,
transportation increased significantly (rail, boat, skyscrapers), automobiles, electricity in homes
*work changed: agricultural to factories, moved for employment, cultural diversity, promote
subcultures and countercultures
*family no longer the main source for work, learning and religious worship
*greatest effect – raised living standards, incomes rise, social inequality decreases slightly;
demand for greater political voice
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Post-industrial: technology that supports an information-based economy (Daniel Bell)
*production relies on computers and other electronic devices that create, process, store and apply
information; people learn skills to develop & carry out work on the computers; uses less labour force for
industrial production; more jobs available for clerical workers, teachers, writers, sales and marketing
*world-wide flow of goods, people, and information = heart of globalization
Socio-cultural Evolution
Hunting/Gathering Horticultural/Pastoral Agrarian Industrial Post-industrial
Historical period Only type of society
until about 12000
years ago; still
common several
centuries ago; the
few examples
remaining today are
threatened with
From about 12000
years ago, with
decreasing numbers
after about 3000BCE
From about 5000
years ago with large
but decreasing
numbers today
From about 1750 to
Emerging in recent
Primitive tools Horticultural socities
use hand tools for
cultivating plants;
pastoral socities are
based on the
domestication of
Animal-drawn plow Advanced sources
of energy;
Computers that
support an
Population size 25-40 people
(scattered extended
Settlements of several
hundred people,
connected through
trading ties to form
societies of several
thousand people
Hundreds of
thousands or
millions of people
Millions of people Millions of people
Settlement pattern Nomadic Horticulturalists form
small permanent
settlements; pastoralists
are nomadic
Cities emerge for
the first time, but
they generally
contain only a small
proportion of the
Cities contain most
of the population
Population remains
concentrated in
limited to age and
sex; little social
religious system begins
to develop; moderate
increased social
Family loses
significance as
distinct religious,
political and
economic systems
emerge; extensive
increased social
inequality; barter is
replaced by
currency as the
medium of
Distinct religious,
political, economic,
educational, and
family systems;
highly specialized;
marked social
inequality persists,
somewhat over
Similar to industrial
societies with
processing and
other service work
gradually replacing
Examples Baka of Central
Africa Basarwa
(San) of Botswana,
Semai of Malaysia
Middle Eastern socities
about 5000 BCE,
various societies today
in New Guinea and
other Pacific Islands,
Yanomamo today in
Egypt during
construction of the
Great Pyramids,
medieval Europe,
agrarian societies of
the world today
Most societies
today in Europe
and North America,
Australia, and Asia,
which generate
most of the world’s
Industrial societies
noted above are
now entering the
The Limits of Technology
- benefits: reducing infectious disease, relieves boredom
- disadvantages: has not fixed poverty, more personal freedom but lack sense of community,
weapons, use of Earth’s resources
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