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objectives. Briefly talk about the different types of societies Watch a short film on the evolution of technology and its influence on changes in society (illustrate point 1)

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  • Briefly talk about the different types of societies
  • Watch a short film on the evolution of technology and its influence on changes in society (illustrate point 1)
  • Reflect on the analysis of 3 classical thinkers in sociology on the nature of changing societies (Marx, Weber and Durkheim)
  • Watch the documentary: “Time for change” and discuss the classical analysis on changing nature of society and contemporary questions on where social change is heading (discuss point 3)
4 prominent changes during time
4 prominent changes during time:
  • New industrial economy: the growth of modern capitalism
  • The growth of cities
  • Political change: control vs. democracy
  • The loss of ‘gemeinschaft’ community binding elements in society
sociocultural evolution
Sociocultural evolution

“I studied the process of change that results from a society’s gaining new information, particularly Technology and came with a classification of 5 general types of societies through history”

Gerhard Lenski

5 types of societies lenski 1995
5 types of societies (Lenski, 1995)
  • Hunting and gathering
  • Horticultural and pastoral
  • Agrarian
  • Industrial
  • Post-industrial
technological development as 1 metric for changes in society
Technological development as 1 metric for changes in society
  • Before we briefly explore the main characteristics of the different types of societies as categorized by Lenski, let’s watch Kevin Kelly’s story of technology

Technology is alive! What does technology want? How has technology influenced human development?

Kevin Kelly

technological determinism
Technological (determinism) !


  • What are the disadvantages of analyzing social change from a technological perspective?
  • What are other possible perspectives for the analysis of social change?What are other metrics?
hunting g athering societies
Hunting & gathering societies
  • Refers to simple technology for hunting animals and gathering vegetation
  • From the emergence of the human species until 12.000 years ago, all humans were hunters and gathers
  • There are still about 300 million indigenous people that organize their society as hunters & gathers
main characteristics of h g societies
Main characteristics of H&G societies:

Based on kinship (family bonds). Family obtains food, distributes this and secure each other

Small bands of a few dozen people living at some distance from each other. NOMADIC societies!

Rarely used their weapons (the spear, the bow, knife, arrow) to engage in war

Most activities are common to everyone and centre on seeking food, some specialization corresponds to age and sex

Social organization is simple and egalitarian

Few formal leaders (often a shaman). Believed in different spirits inhabiting the world

horticulture societies
Horticulture societies
  • Horticulture refers to technology based on using hand tools to cultivate plants
    • hoe to work the soil & digging stick to punch a hole in the ground
  • About 6.000 years old
  • Pastoralism is based on the domestication of animals
main characteristics of h p societies
Main characteristics of H&P societies:

The domestication of plants and animals greatly increased food production enabling societies to support hundreds of people

Pastoralists remain nomads, leading their herds to fresh grazing lands/Horticulturalists formed settlements, moving on only when they depleted the soil

Domesticating plants and animals generates material surplus. Trade emerged between settlements.

Material surplus frees some people from the job of securing food, that other kind of professions emerged. E.g. crafts, priests, engage in trade, cut hair etc.

Social inequalities increased. Rich and poor (even slavery). Warfare.

Religions emerged, based on the worship of God, the creator. God is directly related to well-being of the world (Christianity, Islam and Judaism)

main characteristics of agrarian societies
Main characteristics of agrarian societies:

The technology of large scale farming using ploughs harnessed to animals or more sources of energy

Technological innovations of that period: irrigation, writing, numbers and explanding use of metals

Large food supplies, large food surpluses.

Population and areas of settlements expands (e.g. Roman Empire, Inca and Mayan Civilizations)

Trade, growth of cities, dramatic social inequalities

Increasing production meant greater specialization: the rise of occupations

main characteristics of industrial societies
Main characteristics of Industrial societies:

Technology that empowers sophisticated machinery with advanced sources of energy

Dawns with the Industrial revolution, approximately in 1750

Power supplies, electricity, steam, revolution in transportation and communication

Urbanization: emerging of cities

Social inequalities increased. Poverty and Richness .

Diminishing traditions: family and religion. Literacy emerges

sociology is born
Sociology is born
  • We wanted to understand social change. How society transforms. Sociology reflects upon the past, tries to explain the present time and envisions future changes.
explaining modern industrial society from different perspectives 3 classical sociological accounts
Explaining modern industrial society from different perspectives : 3 classical sociological accounts

How do the societies of the past and present differ from each other?

How and why does a society change? What forces divide a society? hold it together? Are societies getting better or worse?

Karl Marx

Emile Durkheim

Max Weber

marx analysis of changing patters of society critique on capitalism
Marx analysis of changing patters of society: “critique on capitalism”

In a society so rich, how could so many be so poor? And how can we change this situation?

There are two groups in conflict:

Capitalists people who onw factories and other productive enterprises

Proletariats: people who provide labour necessary to operate the productive enterprises of the capitalists

marx s analysis of social inequalities with the rise of industrial societies
Marx’s analysis of social inequalities with the rise of industrial societies:

To conflict between capitalists and proletariats has its roots on the ‘process of production’ itself:

low wages, maximum profit

Social conflict: struggle between different segments of society over valued resources:

Capitalists vs. proletariats

Social change will come if we all abandon the capitalist system.

Transform what he calls False consciousness into

Class consciousness

Social inequalities increased during history: agrarian societies were much equal.

Alienation keeps inequalities in place and prevent social change: alienation from the act of working, from the products of work, from the workers, from human potentials

Capitalism is grounded in other social institutions: religion, political order and morality

Capitalism is the natural order! I don’t have any talents, I deserve to be poor and remain poor

False consciousness: explanations of social problems grounded in the shortcomings of individuals rather than the flaws of society itself

I am captured in a system. Hey, I don’t deserve this and hey, I’m not alone, I’m in the majority


Marx idealized socialism as the opposite of capitalism! “a more equal society”, according to Marx

Class consciousness: the recognition by workers of their unity as a class in opposition to capitalists and ultimately to capitalism itself

tradition and rationality
Tradition and Rationality

Ideas, especially beliefs and values have transforming power. Society is the product (not just of new technology and capitalism) of a new way of thinking.

Growing out of changes in religious belief, the modern world can be characterized as an increasingly rational world

Sentiments and believes passed from generation to generation.


Deliberate, matter of fact calculation of the most efficient ways to accomplish a goal.

Bureaucracy became the symbol of rationalization and modernization. But it has a dehumanizing effect
“To love society is to love something beyond us and something in ourselves”

“Patterns of human behaviour form established structures, these are social facts that have an objective reality beyond the lives and perceptions of particular individuals”

“Cultural norms, values, religious believes all endure social facts. Society is larger than individual lives: it shapes individual lives”

durkheim s notion of solidarity
Durkheim’s notion of solidarity
  • Modern societies impose fewer restrictions on everyone but this gives rise to anomie. A condition in which society provides little moral guidance to individuals
  • The fall of morality: guiding values
  • Traditional societies are characterised by mechanical solidarity
  • Industrial societies gives way to organic solidarity based on productive specialization
assignment concept exploration
Assignment: concept exploration

Question :

  • What does Durkheim mean with the concepts of “mechanical solidarity”, “organic solidarity” and how does this relate to “division in labour”, “morality” and “anomie”?
  • How does an expanding division of labour contribute to social change, according to Durkheim?
main characteristics of post industrialist societies more in unit 8 9 and 10
Main characteristics of post-industrialist societies:(more in Unit 8, 9 and 10)

Computer-linked technology that supports an information based society (term coined by David Bell )

Information society, network society,

post-modern society

Liquid society: living in times of uncertainties

Globalization, unequal world

contemporary thinkers where are we heading
Contemporary thinkers: where are we heading?

Liquid society, a new form of society that is much more fluid than previous modern and traditional ones. Everything changes, we live in times of uncertainties, everything flows. Mobility is the key

Zygmunt Bauman

manuel castells information network societies
Manuel Castells: information/network societies

A new form of society dependent upon new information technologies and networking

Manuel Castells

  • Why do you think inequalities increased the more societies changed from hunter& gather to post-industrialization?
documentary time for change
Documentary: Time for change

Reflect upon the following questiosn:

  • Do Marx’s , Weber’s and Durkheim’s ideas/analysis of society still apply to contemporary problems in society?
  • Reflect upon the following concepts: change, anger/rage, alienation, false-, class- and any kind of ‘new’ consciousness that emerges in these times, bureaucracy, good governance, debts, after watching the documentary.