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Primary Society

Primary Society

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Published by You-Sheng Li
All human societies can be divided into two types: genetically coded primary society and man-made secondary society. It represents a critical step in human social evolution, and therefore it helps us to understand human history and civilization better. This essay is a brief introduction to the concept of primary and secondary societies.
All human societies can be divided into two types: genetically coded primary society and man-made secondary society. It represents a critical step in human social evolution, and therefore it helps us to understand human history and civilization better. This essay is a brief introduction to the concept of primary and secondary societies.

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Published by: You-Sheng Li on Oct 01, 2009
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08/03/2013

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You-Sheng Li has recently introduced the concepts of primary society andsecondary society, and explored their implications in anthropology and sociology. (You-Sheng Li, 2005)
The Concept of Primary Society and Secondary Society
(Rewritten,August 29, 2011)
(1)
 
The Definition of the Primary and the Secondary society
The primary Society is genetically coded society, and it is based on our genetics.Human nature and instinct are enough to keep a primary society harmonious andfunctional. The primary society is the basic social organization of man immediatelyabove families. The ideal number of people in this primary society is believed to bearound 150. Bands and tribes are regarded as primary societies. Chiefdoms and states arenot .The culture of primary societies is close to basic human nature, and has no power tomodify human nature. Overextension of peripheral potentials of human nature is rarelyinstitutionalized in the primary society.The secondary society
 
is man-made society. Since it is man-made, it has its purpose, namely the ideology or the value system, and the social structure to support the purpose. A secondary society is usually far larger than the primary society. Theintroduction of social stratification and other institutions that are against human nature isoften necessary to keep a secondary society stable. The secondary society is created byhuman culture, and therefore, it has limitless possibilities with different value systems,and different directions while the primary society, dictated by human genetics, has onlyone type.All animal societies are primary societies including those of apes. Most nonhuman primates are highly social, and live in a group throughout all or nearly all of their longlives. Living in a group is far more beneficial than living alone. People often refer to thehierarchal societies of primates as the explanation of why we humans have war and
 
inequality in our society. In fact the current secondary society is not a large copy of the primary society but a deviation from it. The hierarchal society of primates is similar toour primary society but different from our secondary society. The latter is a pureinvention of human culture. In the secondary society, hierarchy is the fixed social order that nobody is allowed to challenge though there may be some social ladders allowing people to climb and compete.The social bond of primates is based on reciprocity rather than a fixed hierarchy.Primates continuously groom each other and help each other to solidify their social bond.Anthropologists believed that naked humans chat with each other instead of grooming of the primates. Physical strength is important but far from the decisive factor. Sincemembers interact each other face-to-face, there is a psychological and emotionalexchange and link among members of a primary society. Thus they are psychologicallyand emotionally a whole in a primary society. Members of a secondary society do nothave such exchange and link but their unification relies on their uniform belief andsharing the same value system or the same ideology. 
(2)Major Differences Between the Primary and the Secondary Society
The definition of and the distinction between the primary society and thesecondary society can be refined by examining the way in which they are contrary toeach other: One was man-made, the other, hereditary. It is thus not difficult at alldelineating the major differences between the two by deduction from the definition withreference to ancient tribal and modern societies.Those differences include: 1) the former primary society is based on genetics, andhuman nature and instinct are enough to keep it harmonious and functional while thelatter secondary society is man-made to serve its goal, and has an ideology or valuesystem with a social structure to support that goal. 2) Dictated by genetics, the former has
 
only one type while the latter has limitless possible types. Social stratification andinstitutionalized violence such as police and army are often necessary to keep the latter stable in its present type and restrain its members from seeking other types of society. Asa result, the former does not need a forceful authority while the latter does. 3) The former is a psychological/emotional whole because of the subconscious social bond related toface-to-face interaction while the latter relies on a uniform ideology and goal. Thereligious culture is animism and remains part of the former society while the latter oftenhas organized religions with different belief systems. 4) Language is mainly for  psychological/emotional exchange and carries aesthetic value in the former whilelanguage is mainly for communication or exchange of information, insights, opinion, andso on in the latter. 5) Subjective consciousness is present in both but only the latter allowsits members to become men of their own making. 6) The philosophy of life or world viewis different: The former is able to view the physical world, the social world, and the inner world of human minds from a relaxed mind while dictated by the social ideology; thelatter has a focused view. In fact, war and competition forced people to focus on eachother. European visual artists created only human figures until the 17
th
and 18
th
centurieswhen Holland and Britain developed paintings of scenery and landscape. (Chi 1983) Navigation enabled them to escape from the grip of the continental military powers andtherefore gave them a relaxed mind to see more of the world.Such a list can be easily extended.From the definition, we can draw the conclusion that a primary society will formautomatically under the following conditions: 1). the population is less than a fewhundred, and the population is free to divide when it is too large. 2).The population is

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