6 Types and Characteristics of Societies Through History

Since time immemorial, people have understood the fact that they need to join forces and form communities to survive the harsh environment and weather conditions. The sense of camaraderie and unity is what kept them alive what has lead to the society we live in now.

Societies have evolved manifold, and people in them assume different roles, depending on the actual needs of the community. Sociologists and anthropologists have studied their development carefully and can discern them into different types, mostly according to their level of technology and characteristics.

Here are 6 types of societies that we have lived in throughout the history.

Hunters and gatherers

One of the first societies formed was that of hunters and gatherers. Since food is the primal source of life for humans, the main focus of hunters and gatherers was to hunt down animals for food, gather fruits and nuts, and search for water sources.

The roles in this society were divided between men and women, where men hunted bigger animals and were in charge of providing food and shelter, while women collected fruit and hunted smaller prey. Their nomadic tribal structure allowed them to form close unions and, as there were not many of them, they could quickly move from one place to another, wherever there were food and water.

Pastoral society

Pastoral societies were the first ones to domesticate animals and to form permanent settlements. They emerged in areas which were not very suitable for growing plants and where they needed to have food within reach. With storing food, these societies could thrive and even form the first traces of trade with other pastoral tribes.

Agricultural society

Agricultural societies emerged from what is referred to as the ‘Agricultural Revolution’. Growing crops and having greater technological means allowed them to grow in numbers and form more prominent families. This gave rise to the first form of nobility and division among labour. There were warriors, educators, farmers, artisans and others. All of it began to appear like a functioning system.

Feudal society

The systems above were first officially established with feudalism. A system that began as early as the 9th century implied that a wealthier member of the nobility lay claim to lands which were farmed and worked on by common people in exchange for food and housing. The families of commoners worked for feudal lords for generations and thus helped them amass great wealth.

Industrial society

With the further advent of technology, people were able to put the machines to work and establish factories. This revolution began in 18th century Britain and quickly spread to the rest of the world. What this meant to people was that many of them could get employment and support their families. With the rise of the industry, transportation and housing also grew, education was institutionalised and made available.

Post-Industrial society

We are now in what can be referred to as a post-industrial society. Factories are still present, but with a lot more technology and with the appearance of the digital age. We now have computers in our pockets, social networks on the internet and even intelligent machines.

Final Thoughts

The history is long, so is our progress. No matter how far we have reached, we are still carrying the seeds of our predecessors to create a better society in the future.

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