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Subsistence Strategy: Way a society uses
technology to provide for the needs of its
members
One of the most common ways in which
sociologists classify societies is by their
subsistence strategy

Preindustrial Societies: Food production (which
is carried out by human and animal labor) is the
main economic activity; family is the main social
unit
 Hunting and Gathering Society: Main form of food
production is daily collection of wild plants and
hunting of wild animals
▪ Need for mobility limits size
 Pastoral Society: Rely on domesticated herd animals
to meet food needs
▪ Nomadic life and can support larger populations
▪ Encourages trade which helps create inequality
 Horticultural Society: Vegetables grown in garden plots
that have been cleared from the jungle/forest is the main
source of food (slash-and-burn method)
▪ Use human labor and simple tools to cultivate land
▪ Allows for semi-permanent or permanent villages and greater
population (30 - 2,000)
▪ Specialized roles
 Agricultural Society:
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▪
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▪
Animals and plows are used to till the fields
Can support very large populations
Specialized roles and specialization leads to development of cities
Move from barter (exchange of a good or service) to use of money
as a medium of exchange
▪ Develops system of writing to assist government, landowners, and
traders in keeping records
▪ Landowners v. Peasants
Production of food  Production of manufactured
goods
 Most of production carried out by machines
 Production: Home  Factories
 Urbanization: Most of population in cities
 Production and education take place outside
bounds of the family
 Need for literacy leads to establishment of
education programs
 People have more control over their position in the
social structure
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Much of economy is involved in providing
information and services
Many significant changes result from
transition from industrial to postindustrial
 Standard of living and quality of life increases with
wage

Strong emphasis on social equality,
democracy, science, and education
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Used by Durkheim
Mechanical Solidarity: Close-knit social
relationships common in preindustrial, when
small groups of people share same values and
perform same tasks
Organic Solidarity: Impersonal social
relationships that arise with increase job
specialization and individuals can no longer
provide for all their own needs
 Depend on others for aspects of their survival
 As a result many societal relationships are based on
need rather than values

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Developed by German sociologist Ferdinand
Tönnies
Ideal types of societies
 Gemeinschaft: Most members know one other and
people share a strong sense of solidarity
▪ Ex: Preindustrial or rural village
 Gesellschaft: Social relationships based on need
rather than on emotion; relationships are impersonal
and often temporary; traditional values weak
▪ Ex: Modern society like the USA
Hunting and
Gathering
Describe the
economy of the
society
What technology
is used by the
society?
How is each
society more
advanced than the
one before it?
Describe the
lifestyle of the
people of the
society.
Horticultural
and Pastoral
Agricultural
Industrial
Post-Industrial