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CHARACTERISTICS OF SOCIETY

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Topics: Sociology
CHARASTERISTICS OF SOCIETY

society is groups of people who live in a certain domain and behave according to existing culture and morality. Culture and morality differ in terms of different parts of a society and different types of societies as well. The types have already been shaped by anthropologists and sociologists in history but there is not one certain classification. Even though almost every type is determined, there are six types of society that are accepted by the sociologists. The classification starts with hunter-gatherer society and finishes with postindustrial society and in between there is the process of development of human beings as a society. First four types , historically, are known as preindustrial societies in terms of social structure, cultural accumulation and the level of their technologies, the last two types were shaped after the industrial revolution.

1. Foraging Societies
When human beings did not know how to dominate land and domesticate the animals, they had to live together, share work, use fresh water carefully and also migrate gregariously if anything went wrong, for example, if rivers dried up or they run out of animals. Usually men were hunters and women were gatherers in those societies and this caused matriarchy because men were always in danger during hunting and generally hunter members returned home -cave- with limited numbers. Labour in hunting and gathering societies was divided equally among the members because they were so small and mobile. There was not any political organization compared to understanding of today´s diplomacy but their decision making body included every person who live in the society and equality conducted it. Certainly some foraging societies have their own tribal leaders but even the leader could not decide anything about tribe, everything in those societies was decided by all members. Their technologies were almost nothing in comparison with today but they could do what they needed, hunting big and small animals and using their hides in order to make cloths and gathering plants. Somehow they learned cultivation and they did not need to relocate anymore and they were divided into two parts as animal domesticators and plant cultivators. Both of them started to live in a certain domain.

2. Pastoral Societies
In this type of societies , approximately 12,000 years ago, people lived in a certain place and started to pasture animals for transportation and permanent food. Those types of societies still exist in Somalia, Ethiopia and North Africa countries where horticulture and manufacturing are not possible (Samatar, 1989: 35), hunter-gatherer society did domesticate animals because they realized that using animals´ wool, milk, and fertility was more beneficial than hunting and wasting them. Consequently, not only trade had started, but also non-survival class had aroused such as the spiritual leaders, healers, traders, craftspeople. This new formation held society together in a certain domain and nomadic did not migrate so far, circulate around the pasture –primitive version of urban- and also difference of people came out for the first time; the nomadic and settled people. These are the first forms of people who live in rural and urban areas. Moreover, as they had to domesticate animals and use them, people need some tools and they invented what they needed. By this means technology developed rapidly. Trade improved easily and differences between nomadic and settled people grew up, consequently concept of social inequality started to appear compared to hunter-gatherer societies.

3. Horticultural Societies
Similar to pastoral societies, horticultural societies first appeared 10,000 to 12,000 years ago but these societies cultivated vegetables, fruits and plants. Depletion of the land’s resources or dwindling water supplies, for instance, forced the people to leave. Since, they were mobile and small like hunter-gatherer societies; there was not a non-survival class and not trade as well. Division of labour continued, social structures did not develop and because of this, horticultural societies did not differ from foraging societies. They could not develop because agricultural materials invented about 8,000 years ago and they could not relocate rivers and water sources, their plants dried up. It is easily realized that why development of technology is so important and how it affects to shape societies , at the same time in the other parts of the world, people could invent and develop what they needed but for agriculture, technology was not enough.

4. Agricultural Societies
What cause horticultural societies to extinguish, were the late agricultural inventions around the 8,000’s. With the new inventions, food supplies increased and people settled together. Population grew up rapidly, villages came up and farmers, land owners and also warriors who protect farms in exchange for food against enemies aroused firstly. In these societies, social inequality solidly showed itself . A rigid caste system developed; slavery and ownership started to be too different concepts in those lives. Caste system developed the differentiation between the elite and agricultural labourers including slaves . Lands started to be so important, especially from ninth to fifteenth centuries, after the understanding of feudalism developed, every small land owners saw themselves as kings and owners of people who live for them as well. Concept of social classes spread through the Europe and not only land owners, but also religious leaders did not have to try to survive because workers had to give them everything that they had. Art, literature and philosophy were in religious leaders´ hands because of this, time of feudalism is known as the dark ages. Due to existing monarchy, owners set up their own rules in their lands and each lord led the society with different rules and all of them depended on the King. This stratification prevented slaves from rebellion, workers were sweated and classes and inequalities in Europe continued until the industrial revolution.

5. Industrial Societies
With usage of the steam power, human beings started to use machines and advanced technologies to produce and distribute goods and services. Industrial revolution process began in Britain and then spread through Europe and to the rest of the world, industrial societies started to develop. The growth of technologies led to advances in farming techniques, so slavery lost its significance, economy developed quickly and understanding of social charity and governments’ aids grew up. Feudal social classes removed but then societies divided into two parts as workers and non-workers. Karl Marx explained that non-workers are composing capitalist class and they hold all money and also set up rules. Considering this explanation, it is easily understood that non-workers are the same with non-survivors like lords and religious leaders in preindustrial societies. Thus, the industrial revolution brought only the slavery extinction and there is only worker class. Learning from previous mistakes rulers gave more opportunities for social mobility and also gave more rights than they gave to the slaves. With changes in social inequalities people started to want their rights and freedom as citizens and then kingdoms and autocracy lost their power on citizens. Democracy seemed more beneficial and necessary with French and American Revolutions, nationality became more important and so, citizens won their rights and classes existed as just economic differences. Politically everyone seemed equal but, of course, inequalities between money owners and sellers of their own labours to survive, unstoppably increased. Villages lost their significance and towns became places where occupation opportunities were supplied.

6. Postindustrial Societies
The countries that the industrial revolution began, -Britain, France, the USA and Japan- now became the postindustrial countries. These countries are users of advance technologies like developed computers, satellites, microchips . In short, those societies are affected by the technologies at first hand. In comparison with horticultural societies it can be easily understood that how technology is important to shape and characterize a society. Since they are trailblazers of technologies, they are now holding all world´s economy in their hands. There is not rural and urban areas difference as well as people who are economically at the top and middle. According to common view, in those societies, there is neither social inequality nor classification. People won their own freedom by working hard, if there are any differences or discrimination, this is caused by capitalist and global world, not the governments´ mistakes. That is, rather than being driven by the factory production of goods, society is being shaped by the human mind, aided by computer technology. Although factories will always exist, the key to wealth and power seems to lie in the ability to generate, store, manipulate, and sell information. Sociologists speculate about the characteristics of postindustrial society in the near future. They predict increased levels of education and training, consumerism, availability of goods, and social mobility. While they hope for a decline in inequality as technical skills and “know-how” begins to determine class rather than the ownership of property, sociologists are also concerned about potential social divisions based on those who have appropriate education and those who do not. Sociologists believe society will become more concerned with the welfare of all members of society. They hope postindustrial society will be less characterized by social conflict, as everyone works together to solve society’s problems through science. (Andersen & Taylor, 2006: 118)

To conclude, in history, there have been very different societies in terms of their level of development, levels of inequality, political organizations and cultural factors but only those six types explain easily which stages we passed. Moreover, in today´s world almost all types of societies exist but each of them approaches through postindustrial society even if they are not. From this research paper, it is proved that how technology is important in shaping and characterizing society among the economy, social inequalities and classes.

And if we want to study and understand the outstanding features of a society, a very effectual and handy way is to focus our attention to the large parts of that society in forms of basic communities, organizations and different kinds of capitals which are mostly entrenched in large cities and also plays an influential role in the society. For example, in most countries like Iran or Italy, there are cities which are known as the caches and homes for religion, such as Qom and Mashhad in Iran. These cities in most of the time, are some of large ones which are also known as religious capitals of related countries or regions. If we pay our attention to them, not only we can find out those important features about the religious believes among people of that society, but also there are always some special behaviors and conventions which were established around those cities, which now there is an opportunity to learn about them too.
In addition to the previous example, we can state the same issue about the governmental, economical and political communities in a society. There are special large cities which are known as the main place of one or some of these communities, which are behoove us to allot our time on discovering different information about them. Because lots of important characteristics of a society are created in direct or indirect influences of economical, governmental and political factors.
Furthermore, starting an analysis over conceiving cardinal characteristics of a society requires us to find appropriate gatherings of people, those who have active interactions among themselves, in result of that we can find the high chance of understanding the most common and important behaviors among them. In fact, these behaviors are the factors creating our intended features. On the other hands, in small cities, there is a small chance of finding that fitting interaction between people which is more observable in some countries like Canada. In canada, you can find a tranquil cities , filled from peaceful moments, because most of people usually prefer to spend their free time in a more crowded and different areas like the country sides of capitals cities.
Despite the whole reasons and examples which I stated about them, there is an undeniable fact about small cities which can be telling of the target we are directing to it. This fact is that depending to the customs of different countries, there are societies which those old cultural events and conventional behaviors are stayed alive among them, and we can find out less of them in big cities. However, this is not the case in all countries.

In thinking about the characteristics of a good society different people tend to emphasis different things that they consider to be important e.g. egalitarianism, personal freedom, moral values and spirituality. Rather than just agreeing to differ I think it might be useful to try to identify some characteristics of a good society that nearly everyone would agree to be important. Then it would be possible to consider what evidence might be available about the nature of the institutions that would foster those characteristics. This might enable us to develop a view about the nature of the institutions of a good society that would be widely accepted.
So, what are the characteristics of a good society? First, as I suggested in my last post, the most important characteristic of a good society is a set of institutions that enable its members to live together in peace. This entails an absence of major threats to persons or property such as those associated with civil war, high levels of corruption and absence of rule of law. The institutions should also prevent use of the coercive powers of the state by despots or influential interest groups to enrich themselves at the expense of others or to restrict the freedom of others to choose how they will live their lives. Institutions that promote the peaceful co-existence of individuals and groups with differing interests and values are obviously a necessary condition for human flourishing.
Second, nearly everyone would agree that a good society would provide its members with opportunities to flourish – to have more of the things that are good for humans to have. This would include opportunities to live long and healthy lives, economic opportunities, opportunities for educational and cultural pursuits, opportunities to make important decisions affecting themselves and their families and opportunities to participate in political processes.
Why focus on opportunities rather than outcomes? Good institutions can make it possible for humans to flourish but humans can’t be made to flourish – for much the same reasons as you can lead to water but can’t make it drink. Human flourishing is an inherently self-directed process. The best we can hope for is a set of institutions that will maximize the probability that any individual chosen at random will be a flourishing individual.
Third, I think there would be widespread agreement that a good society would provide its members with a degree of security against potential threats to individual flourishing. For example it would endeavour to maintain good foreign relations and provide national defense capability sufficient to deter foreign aggression; it would maintain safeguards against government corruption and misuse of the coercive powers of the state (e.g. processes that make it difficult for narrow interest groups to acquire or maintain disproportionate influence in policy-making processes and processes for removal of governments that do not have popular support); it would maintain appropriate machinery to prevent or deal with environmental disasters; it would prevent “the tragedy of the commons” by maintaining appropriate institutions for ownership, pricing and use of natural resources; and it would provide members with a degree of personal economic security against misfortunes such as accidents, ill-health and unemployment.

In conclusion, I want to express that if we allot our main focus and time for our study on some targeted and big cities in the intended society, there would be more possibility for us to achieve the goal of understanding those projecting features of that society.

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