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Sociology and the Development of Human Societies

By hannahbearman Sep 08, 2013 1934 Words
Sociology and the development of human societies
Pre- industrial societies
Human history began about 7,000,000 years ago.
It took over 5,000,000 years for these earliest humans to reach the stage described as homo erectus, an upright human, close to a human but with a smaller brain. It took over 5,000,000 years for these earliest humans to reach the stage described as homo erectus, an upright human, close to a human but with a smaller brain. It took 1,500,00 years to reach the stage of homo sapiens. At about this time, 500,000 years ago, humans began migrating out of Africa and spreading to the rest of the world. It took 1,500,00 years to reach the stage of homo sapiens. At about this time, 500,000 years ago, humans began migrating out of Africa and spreading to the rest of the world.

Hunting and Gathering Societies
Early humans all lived in hunting and gathering societies. They were nomads, moving from place to place in search of food and shelter. Early humans all lived in hunting and gathering societies. They were nomads, moving from place to place in search of food and shelter.

Pastoral and Agrarian Societies About 20,000 years ago some hunting and gathering groups started to grow crops. Agriculture provided a more stable supply of food which could support a larger community, and as they settled people started to build up larger stocks of material things. About 20,000 years ago some hunting and gathering groups started to grow crops. Agriculture provided a more stable supply of food which could support a larger community, and as they settled people started to build up larger stocks of material things.

By 8,000 years ago larger societies had developed. Economies were still largely based on agriculture but some large cities existed in which trade and manufacturing was concentrated. By now there were very marked inequalities of wealth and power. By 8,000 years ago larger societies had developed. Economies were still largely based on agriculture but some large cities existed in which trade and manufacturing was concentrated. By now there were very marked inequalities of wealth and power. Non- industrial Civilisations

Most traditional civilisations were empires, meaning that they took over the government of other societies. Britain became part of the Roman Empire 2,000 years ago. Most traditional civilisations were empires, meaning that they took over the government of other societies. Britain became part of the Roman Empire 2,000 years ago.

The main characteristic of post modernism seems to be a loss of faith of the Enlightenment. It is argued that people have become disillusioned with the idea that we can use science and rational thought to make the world a better place. The main characteristic of post modernism seems to be a loss of faith of the Enlightenment. It is argued that people have become disillusioned with the idea that we can use science and rational thought to make the world a better place. Post Modern Societies

In the past gender roles, ethnic differences, social class differences were all clear cut and people generally conformed to societal expectations. Today the old distinctions are blurring and people choose who they want to be, and how they want to behave. In the past gender roles, ethnic differences, social class differences were all clear cut and people generally conformed to societal expectations. Today the old distinctions are blurring and people choose who they want to be, and how they want to behave.

Modernism always celebrated the new and considered ideas from the past to be ‘old fashioned’. Postmodernism borrows from the past and combines a wide range of styles together. A good example of postmodern building is the Trafford Centre in Manchester. This looks like St Pauls Cathedral from the front, a Norman castle from the back, inside there is the deck of an ocean liner and in another is a Victorian palm house. Modernism always celebrated the new and considered ideas from the past to be ‘old fashioned’. Postmodernism borrows from the past and combines a wide range of styles together. A good example of postmodern building is the Trafford Centre in Manchester. This looks like St Pauls Cathedral from the front, a Norman castle from the back, inside there is the deck of an ocean liner and in another is a Victorian palm house.

New social movements are connecting people across traditional class and ethnic boundaries; movements such as gay rights, environmentalism, feminism, and new religious movements. New social movements are connecting people across traditional class and ethnic boundaries; movements such as gay rights, environmentalism, feminism, and new religious movements.

Despite all of this evidence, the concept of a postmodern society is a very controversial one. Many sociologist accept that society is changing greatly but do not accept the term postmodern. Some sociologists, including Anthony Giddens, prefer to describe society as in a stage of ‘late-modernity’. Despite all of this evidence, the concept of a postmodern society is a very controversial one. Many sociologist accept that society is changing greatly but do not accept the term postmodern. Some sociologists, including Anthony Giddens, prefer to describe society as in a stage of ‘late-modernity’.

His ideas were developed by another French sociologist, Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) who is associated with the theory of Structural Functionalism. This theory dominated sociology until the middle of the 20th century. It was an attractive theory because it explained why societies were like they were in a complete way. His ideas were developed by another French sociologist, Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) who is associated with the theory of Structural Functionalism. This theory dominated sociology until the middle of the 20th century. It was an attractive theory because it explained why societies were like they were in a complete way.

For the first time suddenly there was an amazing acceleration in social change. Change was not uniform in societies (we still have some hunters and gatherers around today), and did not impact on all social groups in the same way. Inequalities in society became much greater, even than they had been in traditional civilisations. For the first time suddenly there was an amazing acceleration in social change. Change was not uniform in societies (we still have some hunters and gatherers around today), and did not impact on all social groups in the same way. Inequalities in society became much greater, even than they had been in traditional civilisations.

The pace of social change appeared very frightening to many commentators and there were real concerns that society would completely break down. This began the study of sociology. The person often regarded as the founder of sociology is Auguste Comte (1778- 1857). He made the statement “prevoir pour pouvoir” by which he meant- if we can predict something we can do something about it. The pace of social change appeared very frightening to many commentators and there were real concerns that society would completely break down. This began the study of sociology. The person often regarded as the founder of sociology is Auguste Comte (1778- 1857). He made the statement “prevoir pour pouvoir” by which he meant- if we can predict something we can do something about it.

This approach was criticised by German sociologist, Max Weber (1864-1920) who pointed out that it ignored the people in societies themselves thought, but he too wanted to produce explanations that explained societies as a whole; as did Karl Marx (1818-1883) who was writing at the same time. Marx saw society in very different terms to the Structural Functionalist’s and argued that the parts of a society had to be understood in terms of their relationship with the economy. This approach was criticised by German sociologist, Max Weber (1864-1920) who pointed out that it ignored the people in societies themselves thought, but he too wanted to produce explanations that explained societies as a whole; as did Karl Marx (1818-1883) who was writing at the same time. Marx saw society in very different terms to the Structural Functionalist’s and argued that the parts of a society had to be understood in terms of their relationship with the economy.

Sociology was therefore a product of modernity. It developed as a means of understanding and explaining modern society. However, over the past thirty years some sociologists have been claiming that the period of modernity has ended, and we live in a postmodern society. Sociology was therefore a product of modernity. It developed as a means of understanding and explaining modern society. However, over the past thirty years some sociologists have been claiming that the period of modernity has ended, and we live in a postmodern society.

Modern Societies
Although aspects of modern societies can be traced back to the 16th century, it was the revolutionary changed of the 18th century (300 years ago) which led to the modern societies we have today. The most significant change was the start of industrialisation. Industrialisation refers to the emergence of production based on the use of machinery and power sources such as steam and coal. Before industrialisation, production was largely agricultural and craft based. Most people lived in rural communities and were governed by local landowners and barons and kings. Although aspects of modern societies can be traced back to the 16th century, it was the revolutionary changed of the 18th century (300 years ago) which led to the modern societies we have today. The most significant change was the start of industrialisation. Industrialisation refers to the emergence of production based on the use of machinery and power sources such as steam and coal. Before industrialisation, production was largely agricultural and craft based. Most people lived in rural communities and were governed by local landowners and barons and kings.

Industrialisation led to the development of better transport and communications and these brought about changes in government. New political structures developed such as elected parliaments, and nation states with clearly defined boundaries. Some of these structures evolved over a period of time, but some were brought about by protest and revolution. The French revolution was regarded as a particularly important turning point because it was the first time that the mass of ordinary people challenged the authority of the ruling class. Industrialisation led to the development of better transport and communications and these brought about changes in government. New political structures developed such as elected parliaments, and nation states with clearly defined boundaries. Some of these structures evolved over a period of time, but some were brought about by protest and revolution. The French revolution was regarded as a particularly important turning point because it was the first time that the mass of ordinary people challenged the authority of the ruling class.

At the same time that application of science to economic production was resulting in industrialisation, the application of science to a general understanding of the natural world was generating new ways of thinking. The term “The Enlightenment” is used to describe a period in the 18th century in which the new ways of thinking associated with science and rationality challenged belief systems based on religion and superstition. At the same time that application of science to economic production was resulting in industrialisation, the application of science to a general understanding of the natural world was generating new ways of thinking. The term “The Enlightenment” is used to describe a period in the 18th century in which the new ways of thinking associated with science and rationality challenged belief systems based on religion and superstition.

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