Classification of Societies Based on the Mode of Subsistence – Short essay

A society, like an organism, has to adapt to its environment in order to exploit food resources. In this process of socio-cultural revolution, some societies have evolved further and faster than others; some have become “stuck” at a particular level. In general, all have changed in ways that are unique to themselves.

Thus, it is on the basis of the level of technology or reliance on the basic type of subsistence strategy, societies can be generally classified into the following types:

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(i) Hunting and Gathering Societies,

(ii) Pastoralism or Pastoral Societies,

(iii) Horticultural Societies,

(iv) Agricultural Societies, and

(v) Industrial Societies [which includes Pre-industrial Societies also.]

Social scientists have long recognised that core technology or subsistence strategy has a major impact on values, beliefs, and virtually all social structures, including the family, religion, the political and economic orders, and educational institutions. Because of the importance of core technology or subsistence strategy, we can form an important classification system of societies based on differences in core technology or subsistence strategy.