Throughout human history, there have been various types of societies that people have been found to inhabit. Although it might not be totally fair or accurate to state that these societies have appeared in chronological order since most of these societies are still present today, the types that are considered “older” are not as frequently found as later forms of societies.
This post will cover several commonly found societies in the world. These types of societies are…
- Hunter gather
The first four societies (Hunter-Gatherer, Pastoral, Horticultural, and Agricultural) are considered preindustrial societies.
A Hunter-gather society focuses on hunting and foraging or gathering plants for food that are uncultivated. Family and tribe and generally important in these types of societies. Often, this society is migratory follow the resources they hunt or leaving an area once the resources are depleted.
Hunter-gatherers are considered the oldest type of society. However, today they are rare to find, except for indigenous peoples in various parts of the world. As the world becomes more urbanized and centralized, many governments prefer to keep a closer eye on people who wander from place to place and thus often discourage this lifestyle. As such, hunter-gathers are continuing to decline in terms of their numbers.
A pastoral society is a society in which the people have chosen to domesticate animals and plants. Despite this development, pastoral societies still had a nomadic lifestyle because they had to follow the food source of their animals. With the domestication of animals also came the use of the animals not just for food but also for clothing, transportation, and a general surplus of food. With this surplus, people began to specialize in various occupations needed by their society.
Horticultural and Agricultural
Horticultural societies developed in places with enough rain to allow people to stay in one place and grow feed in permanent settlements. Unlike the other two societies mentioned, horticulturalists did not live a nomadic lifestyle. What horticultural societies were missing was strong, reliable tools, which came with the development of agricultural societies.
Agricultural societies involved the use of tools that took farming from subsistence to a commercial level. People could not farm not just for survival but for profit. Various techniques for farming also developed, such as the use of fertilizers, crop rotation, and tools were use to boost yields. Specialization was also stronger, and many people would work in various occupations that had nothing to do with farming. Examples include the scholar, blacksmith, merchant, and more. With these various classes came division as one class or the other was viewed as superior to another.
Feudal societies are commonly found in the Middle Ages in Europe and in places such as Russia, Japan, and Thailand, among other places. This society did not involve a major technological change in how food production took place but was rather a time of power consolidation.
In any society, people begin to figure out how to exploit the rules to their advantage or to simply break the rules. Feudalism was essentially a rich gentry at the top exploiting the poor under them. All the poor seemed to get was protection from other rich people who wanted to conquer their village and become their slaves. There was no social mobility, and it was no way to break away and become independent.
The birth of industrial societies involves developing many forms of machinery that automate or speed up tasks. For example, steam-powered helped with transportation (trains and boats) and farm production (cotton). The improvements in technology led to increased factory production and allowed average people to own what used to be considered luxury items. Items such as paper and glass were quickly being made available for everybody.
It was during this time that people took their focuses away from the family to economic activity. A new generation of capitalists was able to unseat the feudalists from their seats of power. Essentially, capitalists were people who knew how to exploit and break the new rules for wealth and power.
Perhaps the latest form of society is the post-industrial society, also known as the information age. Now, instead of making food (preindustrial focus) or making things (industrial focus), the information society uses various technical skills related to dealing with data. Today, there are jobs such as data scientists, analysis, computer science, etc., that focus on dealing with information in one way or another.
Work and career are also becoming much more important. A feudal farmer was not worried about a career, only surviving the day and relaxing in the even. The farmer’s life was focused on his family and not climbing the corporate ladder. Now, people are often socialized to put job and career before most other matters, which has weakened family relations.
Today people live in all of the societies mentioned here. It’s up to the person to decide which one of these societies works best for them. The primary goal was to share the various types of society found in the world today.