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The Development of Human

Societies
In this lecture I will briefly introduce some of
the main ideas associated with PREMODRN.
MODERN and POSTMODERN societies. Some
sociologists believe that human societies have
passed through certain broad phases of
development.
PREMODERN
Societies took a number of forms. Anthony
Giddens (1997) distinguishes between three main
types:
Hunting and gathering societies
Pastoral and agrarian societies
Non-industrial civilizations
MODERN INDUSTRIAL SOCIETIES

In the early nineteenth century there was widespread agreement


among observers and commentators at this time that Northern
Europe and North America were passing through the most
profound transformation of society in the history of mankind. The
four main transformations took place:

Industrialism (agriculture to manufacturing)


Capitalism (wage labour and business run for making profit)
Urbanism (massive movement from rural to urban)
Liberal democracy (the citizenship rights of individuals over the
right of kings and queens)
Taken together, the changes described above are often seen as characterizing
MODERN SOCIETIES or MODERNITY. Modernity involves the
following
concepts:

Human progress
Rational planning to achieve objects
A belief in rational thought (over emotion and faith)
Faith in the ability of technology and science to solve human problem
A belief in the ability and rights of humans to shape their own lives
Reliance upon manufacturing industry to improve living standards.

However, some thinkers, including some sociologists, believe that


MODERNITY has been replaced by an era of POSTMODERNITY
POSTMODERNITY
Some sociologists suggest that human have begun to lose their faith in
science and technology. They have become aware of the damaging
effects of pollution, the dangers of nuclear war, and the risks of genetic
engineering. Human have become more skeptical about the benefits of
rational planning. Lost faith in political beliefs (e.g., communism) and
grand theories (ism) that claim to be able to improve society. Some
people have turned to non-rational beliefs and religious cults as a
reaction against scientific rationalism.
According to some postmodernists, industrial society has been
superseded by post-industrial society:

Manufacturing to communication and information technology


Narrowing gap between time and space
High consumerism
The media have become increasingly important in peoples
lives.

Although, some of these changes have undoubtedly taken place,


some sociologist do not believe that the changes are sufficiently
large and significant to justify to claim that there has been a shift
from modern to postmodern society (information society,
Network society or Risk Society).