Jean And Gerhard Lenski, In Their Theory Of Sociocultural Evolution, D

escribe fivedifferent types of societies, separated by their technologies. They are the hunting and gathering societies, the horticultural and pastoral societies, the agrarian societies, the industrial societies, and the post-industrial societies. Which of these societies would I prefer? I will argue that the post-industrial society is favorable to the other four societies.

Compared to the post-industrial society, an individual in the hunting and gathering society consumes a great deal of time, energy, and thought, collecting and hunting for food. Most of these societies today generally live in marginal areas where resources are scarce, so life for the hunter and gatherer seems more oriented toward mere survival. The natural elements can be harsh, for example, in the Arctic where the Inuit live. In the post-industrial society, food is easily available, allowing more time to focus on other interests. Life expectancy is also very low compared to the post industrial society. Technology is minimal in the hunting and gathering society, which again relates back to the need for expending time and energy finding food. Technology in medicine is also primitive for hunters and gatherers. If I, or someone I cared for, develops a pendicitis, for example, this would be easily treatable in the post-industrial society, death would be rare. In the hunting and gathering society, likely I or my cared-one would suffer pain and eventually die.

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The hunting and gathering society certainly has its benefits. Equality is great and social stratification is low, opposed to the post-industrial society. I feel that the costs, however, outweigh these benefits.

As with the hunting and gathering societies, the horticultural and pastoral societies do not afford as much time for leisure as does the post-industrial society. Production of food in the horticulturist society and care of animals in the pastoral society still consumes a large portion of time for most of its members. The horticulturist is at the mercy of the elements since a bad season or natural phenomena such as a flood can deplete food resources and drastically effect the survival of its members. Pastoral societies are also at risk of animal diseases or droughts. These societies do not have the technologies that post-industrial societies have to guard against food shortage. The pastorals are nomadic, and sometimes endure harsh and even dangerous environments in their journeys. Medical technology is also low, so physical pain and death are more common than in post-industrial society.

The agrarian society, compared to the post-industrial society, displays more inequality. There exists a large economic gap between the wealthy or elite and the poor or slaves and peasants. As an elite man in this society, life would be easy. One would have much leisure time to follow other interests like schooling and art. As a peasant or slave, however, time and energy would be consumed working for the elite. Power is highly stratified between rich and poor, men and women. It does not display the more general democratic political characteristics of the post-industrial society. The ability to choose is dependent on economic class, and is generally determined by birth. Social mobility is rare in contrast to post-industrial society. I view this as an unjust society and would prefer democracy prevalent in post-industrial society.

As with the agrarian society, early industrial societies are marked with economic, social, and political inequality. Advancing technology benefits the few or rich in that they collect wealth in industry. The rich are the factory owners who use technology to produce more and make more money. The workers are the poor. In early industrial societies, there are no laws that give rights to the worker. Workers are subjected to long hours, low pay, and dangerous working environments. Technology is moving fast while the political institutions lag behind. Generally, the industrial society is one where the majority of its members work in factories. Most of one’s day involves doing repetitive or thoughtless work. It produces a feeling of isolation since interaction with others is limited. This type of work is something that a machine in post-industrialist society would do.

The post-industrial society is the most technologically advanced, and technology definitely has benefits. The use of computers in medicine can detect disease and cure ailment, thus promoting longer life. Food is abundant and quickly attainable. The Internet brings cultures together which promote greater understanding among each other. It also gives a voice to special interest groups such as women’s rights groups and economically disadvantaged groups, which in turn promotes greater democracy. In addition, members of this society and the later part of the industrial society, have a greater amount of leisure time. Universal education is also a benefit of these societies. Individual rights are another.

Post-industrial society is not as socially, economically, or politically equal as the hunter and gatherer or horticultural and pastoral societies are but it has been leveling-off since the industrial revolution. We are only at the beginning of the post-industrial era. Perhaps in the future, differences in equality can be further reduced by greater awareness promoted through technological advancements like the Internet and television medium. This may then effect political change toward a more just and, in my opinion, better society.


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