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Week 6: Society.

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Presentation on theme: "Week 6: Society."— Presentation transcript:

1 Week 6: Society

2 Society refers to people who interact in a defined territory and share a culture
How and why do all societies change? What forces divide a society? What forces hold a society together? These are the questions we are going to answer today According to Lenski, the more technology a society has, the faster it changes Five types of societies, defined by their technology: hunting and gathering societies, horticultural and pastoral societies, agrarian societies, industrial societies, and postindustrial societies

3 Hunting and gathering societies
making use of simple tools to hunt animals and gather vegetation for food depend on the family to do many things although women and men perform different tasks, most hunters and gatherers probably see the sexes as having about the same social importance (Leacock, 1978) people come close to being socially equal

4 Horticultural and Pastoral Societies
large-scale cultivation using plows harnessed to animals or more powerful energy sources money as a common standard of exchange, and the old barter system was abandoned extreme social inequality, typically more than modern societies such as our own agriculture raises men to a position of social dominance religion reinforces the power of elites

5 Agrarian Societies use of hand tools to raise crops the domestication of animals compared to hunting and gathering societies, horticultural and pastoral societies are more socially diverse greater inequality, with elites using government power -and military force- to serve their own interests more likely to think of one God as the creator of the world

6 Industrial Societies the production of goods using advanced sources of energy to drive large machinery water power and then steam boilers to operate mills and factories filled with large machines change was so rapid that it sparked the birth of sociology itself weakening of close working relationships, strong family ties, and many of the traditional values, beliefs and customs

7 Postindustrial Societies
the production of information using computer technology less and less labour force the postindustrial society is at the heart of globalization technology has improved life and brought the world's people closer but establishing peace, ensuring justice, and protecting the environment are problems that technology alone cannot solve

8 Karl Marx: Society and Conflict
Social conflict, the struggle between segments of society over valued resources Capitalism turns a small part of the population into capitalists, people who own and operate factories and other businesses in pursuit of profits, and most of the population into industrial workers, whom Marx called proletarians, people who sell their labour for wages Capitalism always ends up creating conflict between capitalists and workers Marx views the economic system as society's infrastructure, while other institutions, including the family, the political system and religion, form society's superstructure and support the economy Conflict is the engine that drives social change Communism is a system in which people commonly own and equally share the food and other things they produce

9 “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle”
Class conflict refers to conflict between entire classes over the distribution of a society's wealth and power Revolution would not come easily: 1) workers must become aware of their oppression and see capitalism as its true cause 2) they must organise and act to address their problems Alienation, the experience of isolation and misery resulting from powerlessness: 1) alienation from the act of working 2) alienation from the products of work 3) alienation from other workers 4) alienation from human potential Alienation is a barrier to social change Marx imagined a system of production that could provide for the social needs of all. He called this system socialism

10 Max Weber: The Rationalisation of Society
Disagreed with Marx's philosophy of materialism. Weber's philosophical approach, called idealism, emphasised how human ideas – especially beliefs and values- shape society Members of preindustrial societies are bound by tradition and people in industrial-capitalist societies are guided by rationality By tradition, Weber meant values and beliefs passed from generation to generation (people are guided by the past) By rationality, Weber meant a way of thinking that emphasises deliberate, matter-of-fact calculation of the most efficient way to accomplish a particular task Weber viewed both the Industrial Revolution and the development of capitalism as evidence of modern rationality Weber described modern society as “disenchanted” because scientific thinking has swept away most of people's sentimental ties to the past

11 Weber went to identify seven characteristics of rational social organisation: 1) distinctive social institutions 2) large-scale organisations 3) specialised tasks 4) personal discipline 5) awareness of time 6) technical competence 7) impersonality He believed that bureaucracy has much in common with capitalism; bureaucracy is highly rational because its elements -offices, duties, and policies- help achieve specific goals as efficiently as possible Weber agreed with Marx that modern society generates widespread alienation. Marx thought alienation was caused by economic inequality, while Weber blamed alienation on bureaucracy's countless rules and regulations He was deeply pessimistic about the future. He feared that the rationalisation of society would reduce human beings to robots

12 Emile Durkheim: Society and Function
Society is more than the individuals who compose it Because society is bigger than any one of us, it has the power to guide our thoughts and actions The significance of social fact, Durkheim explained, is more than what individuals see in their lives; social facts help society operate He acknowledged the advantages of modern-day freedom, but he warned of increased anomie, a condition in which society provides little moral guidance to individuals Mechanical solidarity refers to social bonds, based on common sentiments and shared moral values, that are strong among members of preindustrial societies Organic solidarity refers to social bonds, based on specialisation and interdependence, that are strong among members of industrial societies

13 Mechanical solidarity is based on similarity, whereas organic solidarity is based on differences among people For Durkheim, then, the key to change in a society is an expanding division of labour, or specialised economic activity Marx saw in society not unity but social divison based on class. For Marx, true social unity can occur only if production becomes a cooperative process. To Weber, the members of a society share a worldview. Durkheim made solidarity the focus of his work "-should we go to them? - we should go to the forest. To seek a new beginning."


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