Sociological Typology of Societies

Sociology discusses five general types of social organisation that might be thought of as distinct phases of human civilisation. In reality, however, these societies often overlapped and they all exist in one form or another in the present day.

1) Hunting and Gathering: this was the dominant form of up until around 12,000 years a go. Members gather food and plants. Social organisation is family centred with small groups living together. Spirituality is based on spirits of the Earth. E.g Indigenous civilisations in ancient times and some modern day Amazon Basin Indigenous people.

2) Horticultural and Pastoral: use technology to cultivate plants & domesticate animals. Society is organised around hundreds of people who trade with other large groups. Religion is based on ancestral worship. E.g. Middle Eastern societies in 5,000 BCE and today rural Tibetan and Iranian tribes.

3) Agrarian: large scale farming and energy harnessing. Societies are made up of millions of people. Institutions other than family start take precedence and social roles become more specialised. E.g. Ancient Egypt and Medieval Europe & some rural developing regions today.

4) Industrial: Emerged in 18th Century with sophisticated technology and transportation. Work is highly specialised & aided by machinery. Food and goods are mass produced in factories. Societies are governed by distinct formal institutions like the law, economy and education. Large portion of population lives in cities. E.g. Most modern day societies.

5) Post Industrial: Information and service work take precedence. International travel and migration reshape ideas of social belonging. Communication, production and commerce is aided by computers. National and transnational social movements increasingly challenge social inequality & established power relations. E.g. Most developed nations post the 1990s.

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