Human Societies, Surplus, and Sustainability

Where are we going? And why are we in this hand-basket anyway?

Why do humans live in societies?
So we don’t get lonely No, seriously, why? Historically speaking, to increase our sur vival chances

What must societies do to persist?
recruit and/or reproduce to maintain a sufficient population size produce food produce energy (before fire, eating was sole means of energy production) replenish resources waste management

What must societies do to persist?
social control/social order regulations, rules, sanctions, rewards common morality (i.e., social norms) defend against outside threats intruders, natural disasters, disease manage space (allocate living, recreational, worship and other spaces)

What must societies do to persist?
establish and maintain decision-making rules establish/maintain system for production and distribution of goods/resources ensure the health/well-being of members cultural reproduction

Universal features societies develop to persist
To recruit and/or reproduce in order to maintain a sufficient population size, societies... ...develop norms for gender relations that facilitate reproduction, and create taboos against mating with immediate family members (also see “cultural systems” below)
Note: Societies also depend on various types of social units to carry out necessary functions (e.g., families, tribes, clubs, congregations, corporations, etc.)

Universal features societies develop to persist
To produce and distribute goods/ bads (e.g., food, energy, waste and space), societies... ...develop economic systems ranging from modest division of labor and relative self-sufficiency to elaborate division of labor and greater interdependence, which are coordinated through markets in the case of a capitalist economy.

Universal features societies develop to persist
To maintain social order and control, societies...
...develop cultural systems that establish and enforce norms traditions and rituals function to remind people of the norms Educational systems and religious institutions also function to pass on cultural beliefs and norms In large and highly complex societies individuals lose the ability to regulate one another through cultural norms. New institutions, such as governments and justice systems, implement and enforce abstract laws and principles that, in theory, reflect underlying cultural beliefs and norms

Universal features societies develop to persist
To establish and maintain decision-making rules, societies... ...develop forms of governance. (governance structures also often oversee the economic system and build and maintain social infrastructure (including standing militaries to defend against threats)

Universal features societies develop to persist
There’s also a lot of overlap in functions. For example... ...to maintain the health and well being of their members, societies

Develop cultural beliefs and practices about diet, exercise, and hygiene Establish laws about the use of narcotics and other products Educate people about good health control access to the goods people need to maintain health