Unit 3 Changing patterns of Society_WITHOUT_VIDEOS

1. Briefly talk about the different types of societies
2. Watch a short film on the evolution of
technology and its influence on changes in
society (illustrate point 1)
3. Reflect on the analysis of 3 classical thinkers in
sociology on the nature of changing societies
(Marx, Weber and Durkheim)
4. 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:
• 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
“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)
Hunting and gathering
Horticultural and pastoral
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
Kevin Kelly
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
Hunter and Gather 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 &
Indigenous societies around the world
Main characteristics of H&G societies:
Small bands of a few
dozen people living at
some distance from
each other.
NOMADIC societies!
Social organization
is simple and
Based on kinship (family
bonds). Family obtains
food, distributes this
and secure each other
Most activities are
common to everyone
and centre on seeking
food, some
corresponds to age and
Rarely used their
weapons (the spear,
the bow, knife,
arrow) to engage in
Few formal leaders
(often a shaman).
Believed in different
spirits inhabiting
the world
Horticultural and pastoral 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
Main characteristics of H&P societies:
The domestication of
plants and animals greatly
increased food production
enabling societies to
support hundreds of
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.
Pastoralists remain
nomads, leading their
herds to fresh grazing
formed settlements,
moving on only when
they depleted the soil
Religions emerged, based
on the worship of God, the
creator. God is directly
related to well-being of the
world (Christianity, Islam
and Judaism)
Domesticating plants and
animals generates material
surplus. Trade emerged
between settlements.
Social inequalities
increased. Rich and poor
(even slavery). Warfare.
Agrarian societies
Main characteristics of agrarian societies:
The technology of large
scale farming using ploughs
harnessed to animals or
more sources of energy
Population and areas of
settlements expands (e.g.
Roman Empire, Inca and
Mayan Civilizations)
Technological innovations
of that period: irrigation,
writing, numbers and
explanding use of metals
Increasing production
meant greater
specialization: the rise of
Large food supplies, large
food surpluses.
Trade, growth of cities,
dramatic social inequalities
Industrial societies
Main characteristics of Industrial societies:
Technology that
machinery with
advanced sources of
emerging of
Dawns with the
approximately in
Power supplies,
electricity, steam,
revolution in
transportation and
traditions: family and
religion. Literacy
Social inequalities
increased. Poverty
and Richness .
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
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’s materialist analysis of society
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:
1) Capitalists people who onw
factories and other productive
2) Proletariats: people who provide
labour necessary to operate the
productive enterprises of the
Marx’s analysis of social inequalities with the rise of
industrial societies:
Social conflict: struggle
between different
segments of society over
valued resources:
Capitalists vs. proletariats
Social inequalities
increased during history:
agrarian societies were
much equal.
To conflict between
capitalists and proletariats
has its roots on the ‘process
of production’ itself:
low wages, maximum profit
Capitalism is grounded in
other social institutions:
religion, political order and
Social change will come if
we all abandon the
capitalist system.
Transform what he calls
False consciousness into
Class consciousness
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 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
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
Weber’s rationalization of society
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.
Rational social organization (Weber)
Large scale
of time
Bureaucracy became the
symbol of rationalization and
modernization. But it has a
dehumanizing effect
Durkheim’s notion of solidarity in society
“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
“Cultural norms, values,
religious believes all endure
social facts. Society is larger
than individual lives: it shapes
individual lives”
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
Question :
1. What does Durkheim mean with the
concepts of “mechanical solidarity”, “organic
solidarity” and how does this relate to
“division in labour”, “morality” and
2. How does an expanding division of labour
contribute to social change, according to
Post-industrial societies
Main characteristics of post-industrialist societies:
(more in Unit 8, 9 and 10)
technology that
supports an information
based society (term
coined by David Bell )
Liquid society:
living in times of
Information society,
network society,
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
A new form of society
dependent upon new
information technologies and
Manuel Castells
• Why do you think inequalities increased the
more societies changed from hunter& gather
to post-industrialization?
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.

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