Types of society
In the most general level, societies before the 18th century are called “traditional societies”. In the Western world, the majority of the traditional societies transformed through Enlightenment, Scientific and Political Revolutions and the Industrial Revolution, and a new society emerged. This new type of society is called “the industrial society” or “the modern society”.
1-Hunting and Gathering Societies: 50.000 BC-Present. (...) This type of society consists of small numbers of people, such as 30-40 people. (...) In this type of society, there is very little social inequality, and the inequalities are based on honor rather than wealth. Because they do not do agriculture, they do not have long-term storable food. The material goods they have and use are very limited, they have their weapons, traps and cooking tools. As a consequence, there are no rich and poor people, and there are no divisions depending on wealth. The social divisions and the division of labor is based on age and sex. This type of society is based on cooperation, there is no competition among people. They are generally participatory societies and all male members gather together when important decisions are taken. However, the thoughts of the oldest men are more important.
2-Pastoral Societies: Pastoral societies are the societies in which the gain of livelihood is based on domesticated livestock such as cattle or sheep. These societies generally live in areas which are not suitable for agriculture. These societies consist of a larger population than hunting and gathering societies. Their population varies from a few hundred people to many thousand people. There is also more social inequality in this type of societies. Members of pastoral societies are engaged in trade and this causes a division between the rich and the poor. In these societies, there are non-economic social inequalities, too; for example, the chiefs, warlords, and leaders have extensive personal power. This type of society has emerged in 12,000 BC and today many pastoral societies exist, particularly in Africa, Middle East and Central Asia (Giddens, 2005: 49).
3-Agrarian Societies: Agrarian societies are the societies of small rural communities which are engaged in agriculture. They often hunt animals and gather edible plants in addition to agricultural production. Their existence period is approximately same with pastoral societies. The first form of agrarian is the “horticultural societies”, in which people cultivated small gardens with simple tools. Agrarian societies are settled societies and develop regular trading and political ties with other societies. There are important economic inequalities among people (Giddens, 2005: 51).
4-Traditional States: The societies known as traditional states or non-industrial civilizations existed between 6000 BC to 19th century. Traditional societies were smaller than industrial societies, but larger than all the former types of societies, some reached to millions of people. (...) This is the first society type in which not most of the people are engaged in food production. People in traditional states are also engaged in trade and nonagricultural production. Traditional states are not completely rural societies; they have some cities in which traders or manufacturers concentrate. While the division of labor is based on sex and age in hunting and gathering, pastoral or agrarian societies; there is a complex division of labor in the traditional states. Although the division of labor by sex continued, specialized jobs emerged in the traditional societies. The main occupation groups are merchants, courtiers, government administrators, clergies and soldiers. There are major inequalities among the different groups, especially between aristocratic groups and the rest of the society. The members of the aristocracy had much more wealth and held the political power. There are no traditional states in the contemporary world, this type of society completely disappeared (Giddens, 2005: 55).
5-Industrial (Modern) Societies: Industrial Revolution (1700s) began with the emergence of non-living resources of energy (such as electricity), which enabled the machine production. (...) With the concentration of industry and production in factories in cities, large amounts of people migrated from rural areas to urban areas. Industrial society refers to a type of society in which the majority of the production is industrial and most of the people work as industrial workers in factories, offices or shops and live in urban areas. Industrial Revolution and Political Revolutions (such as French Revolution) were the main elements that revealed the modern society. The modern society is an industrialized, urbanized, secularized society which is politically formed as a nation-state.
6-Post-Industrial Societies: With the technological changes in the 20th century, a new type of society emerged. In the post industrial society, the majority of the production shifted from industrial production to service sector. The service sector, including communication, health, banking and insurance had a larger proportion in industry than before. Information and technology gained more importance.