Hunting And Gathering Societies:
The use of simple tools to hunt animals and gather vegetation. From the emergence of our species 3 million years ago until just 12, 000 years ago, all humans were hunters and gatherers. With little control over their environment, hunters and gatherers spend most of their time searching for game and collecting edible plants. Only in lush areas where food is plentiful do hunters and gatherers have leisure time. They must also be nomadic, moving on as they deplete vegetation in an area or follow migratory animals. Hunting and gathering societies are built on kinship. The family obtains and distributes food, protects its members, and teaches. Women gather vegetation the most reliable food source and men take on the less certain task of hunting. Hunters and gatherers use simple weapons-the spear, bow and arrow, and stone knife- but rarely to wage war.
Horticultural and Pastoral Societies:
The use of hand tools to raise crops. A hoe to work the soil and digging stick to punch holes in the ground to plant seeds may seem simple and obvious, but horticulture allowed people to give up gathering in favor of “growing their own.” Horticulturalists clear the land by means of “slush and burn” technology, raise crops for two to three years and then move on to new plots as the soil becomes exhausted. Their more efficient economies allow for the production of a social surplus-goods and services over and above those necessary for human survival.
Large-scale cultivation using plows harnessed to animals or more powerful energy sources. Plowing stirs up the fertile elements in the soil that in semiarid regions sink beneath the reach of plant roots. The harnessing of animal power (such as oxen) and the discovery of the basic principles of metallurgy greatly enhanced the value of the plow. These innovations meant larger crops, more food, expanding populations, and even more complex forms of social organization. In time sophisticated political institutions emerged, with power concentrated in the hands of hereditary monarchs. Continuing advances in both productive and military technologies contributed to a substantial growth in the power of the state, the size of the territory it controlled, and the emergence of large capital cities. The massive pyramids of Egypt, the great cathedrals of medieval Europe, the roads and aqueducts of Rome, and the far flung irrigation systems of the middle East and China are products of agrarian societies.
The industrial Revolution gave birth to industrial societies whose productive and economic systems are based on machine technologies. The energy needed for work activities came increasingly from hydroelectric plants, petroleum, and natural gas rather than from people and animals. Economic self-sufficiency and local market systems were displaced by complex divisions of labor, exchange relationships, and national and international market systems. The ability to read ad write, limited to a small minority in agrarian societies, became essential in advanced industrial societies and led to the growth of educational institutions. Many activities that were once the responsibility of families were relinquished to other institutions.
In the postindustrial society, increasing numbers of workers find employment in tertiary industry centering on the provision of services rather than the extraction of raw materials and the manufacture of goods. New techniques permit the automation of many processes in the workplace with the introduction of computers and complex feedback regulation devices.