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Sociology and the Changing World

One million years age man began making tools, co-ordinated their behaviour and organise themselves into social groups

Types of Society

Hunter/Gather Societies

Agrarian Societies

Pastoral Societies

Traditional Societies or Civilizations



Post modernity

Hunter/ Gather Society

50,000 BC to Present. Now on the verge of complete disappearance

Characteristics Consist of small numbers of people gaining their livelihood from hunting, fishing and the gather of edible plants Few inequalities Difference of rank limited by age and gender

Agrarian Society
12,000 BC to the present day. Most are now part of larger political entities and are losing their direct identity Characteristics Based on small rural communities without towns or cities Livelihood gained through agriculture, often supplemented through hunting and gathering Stronger inequalities than among hunter/gathers Ruled by Chiefs/Elders
EXAMPLES: Rwanda, Uganda, Nepal, Ethiopia, Bangladesh

Pastoral Society
12.000 BC to the present . Today mostly part of a larger state. Their traditional way of life are being undermined
Characteristics Size from a few hundred to a few thousand Dependent on the tending of domestic animals for their subsistence Marked by distinct inequalities Ruled by chiefs or warrior kings

Traditional Societies or Civilizations

6000 BC to the 19th Century. All traditional Societies have disappeared Characteristics Very Large in size Some cities exist in which trade and manufacturing are concentrated Based largely on agriculture Major inequalities exist among different classes Distinct apparatus of government headed by a king or emperor

The Modern World and Industrialized Societies

Modernity A term designed to encapsulate the distinctiveness, complexity and dynamism of social process which was unleashed during the 18th and 10 century, which marks a distinct break from traditional ways of living, ( Bilton et al. 1997)

The name given to the Enlightenment ( this was a philosophical movement saw a world free from religious dogma, with human control and leading ultimately the emancipation for all mankind) this inspired changes which began in the 19th century and matured in the 20th century.

Its central feature included: Industrial capitalism Scientific activity Hugh population growth, Urbanization Secularization of knowledge

Key Dimensions of Modernisation

Peter Berger (1977) as cited in Macionis and Plummer (2005) outlines four major characteristics of modernisation 1) The decline of small traditional communities 2) The expansion of personal choice 3) Increasing diversity in beliefs 4) Future orientation and growing awareness of time

Traditional and Modern Societies : the big picture

Elements of Society Traditional Societies Modern Societies


Homogenous; sacred character; few subcultures and counter cultures

High moral significances; little tolerance of diversity

Heterogeneous; secular character; many subcultures and counter cultures

Variable moral significance; high tolerance of diversity


Time orientation

Present linked to past

Present linked to future

Pre- industrial : human and Industrial: advanced animal energy energy sources

Elements of Society

Traditional Societies

Modern Societies

Social Structures
Status and Role Few statuses, most ascribed; few specialised Face to face Informal Rigid with little mobility Pronounced patriarchy; womens lives centred on the home Based on agriculture; some manufacturing in the home; little white collar work Small scale government ; little state intervention in society Extended family as the primary means of socialisation and economic production Religion guides world view; little religious pluralism Many statuses , some ascribed and some achieved; many specialised roles Face to face supplemented with mass media Formal Police and legal system Fluid with considerable mobility Declining patriarchy; increasing number of women in the paid labour force Industrial mass production; factories become centres of production; increasing white collar work Large- scale government; considerable state intervention in society Nuclear family retains some socialisation functions as more as a unit of consumption than production Religion weakens with the rise of science; extensive religious pluralism

Communications Social Control Social Stratification Gender





Elements of Society

Traditional Societies

Modern Societies


Formal schooling limited to Basic schooling becomes elites universal; with growing proportion receiving advanced education
High birth and death rates; brief life expectancy because of low standards of living and simple medical technology Small scale; population typically small and widely dispersed in rural villages and small towns Slow; change evident over many generations Low birth and death rates; longer life expectancy because of higher standards of living and sophisticated medical technology Large scale; population typically large and concentrated in cities Rapid; change evident within a single generation


Settlement patterns

Social Change

18th and 19th Century saw major changes in society including; Rapid growth in production & economic activities. Replacement of agricultural manufacture with industrial manufacture industrial revolution Movement from urban areas to cities Capitalism new form of economic activity Birth rates rose and death rates fell leading to population change Development of new forms of Government nation states

State began to play a large role in the lives of people New political ideas emerged democracy, socialism, citizenship Enlightenment era brought new understandings and there was a fall in religious beliefs It was during this period that sociology emerged. It came about as the old certainties of society and life were disappearing. Sociology attempted to produce reliable knowledge about society which people could use to shape their future. Marx, Durkheim and Weber are the best known sociologist of the modern era.

Post modernism
Modern theories all focused on capitalism and industrial development the modern society More recent theories focus on the societies and developments after the modern one post modern

Post modernism
Since 1970s new social trends have suggested another great transformation This transformation and the associated theories are termed post modernism

Post modernism
Post modern society is very diverse and constantly changing Theories cannot be generalised across societies

Post modernism
People are reflective self conscious and knowledgeable Less interested in human action research on written expression laws and religious documents

Post Modernism
Since 1970s new social trends have suggested that another great transformation is under way. This is referred to as post-modernity. The transformation of social, cultural, economic and political arrangements that has taken society beyond modernity Bilton et al 2002;40

Main ideas
People have lost some of their faith in science to give them answers alternative medicine for example Production has become much more worldwide and is influenced by international actions Mass production has replaced by more flexible systems Decline in the importance of the nation state Diverse range in family forms with differing values

Post modern individuals are no longer united subjects. We no longer possess fixed, stable. Permanent & coherent identities, we are made up of several Shift from society begin organised by production now organised by consumption Information is a huge factor of post modern society International influence, communication is worldwide, we are all much closer Media is influential to the ideas, thoughts and actions of people.

Post modern individuals are no longer united subjects. We no longer possess fixed, stable. Permanent & coherent identities, we are made up of several Shift from society begin organised by production now organised by consumption Information is a huge factor of post modern society International influence, communication is worldwide, we are all much closer Media is influential to the ideas, thoughts and actions of people.

Post modernity
This is the view that it is no longer accurate to say that we live in modernity. According to Postmodernists, the world has been so transformed in recent years that we have gone beyond modernity and now live in postmodern times. As a consequence we need to develop new ways of making sense of this transformed existence. Postmodern society is highly pluralistic and diverse

Recommended Reading
Ballantine, Jeanne H. & Roberts, Keith A, (2011) Introduction to Sociology, 3rd eds, Sage Publications, Canada Bilton et al ( 1997) Introductory Sociology, 3rd Edition, MacMillian Press, London Giddens, A (2001) Sociology, 4th eds, Polity Press, UK. Jones, et al ( 2011), Introducing Social Theory, 2nd Edition, Polity Press, Cambridge.