The society we live in did not spring up overnight; human societies have evolved slowly over many millennia. However, throughout history, technological developments have sometimes brought about dramatic change that has propelled human society into its next age.

Hunting and Gathering Societies

Hunting and gathering societies survive by hunting game and gathering edible plants. Until about 12,000 years ago, all societies were hunting and gathering societies.

There are five basic characteristics of hunting and gathering societies: 

  1. The primary institution is the family, which decides how food is to be shared and how children are to be socialized, and which provides for the protection of its members.
  2. They tend to be small, with fewer than fifty members.
  3. They tend to be nomadic, moving to new areas when the current food supply in a given area has been exhausted.
  4. Members display a high level of interdependence.
  5. Labor division is based on sex: men hunt, and women gather.

The first social revolution—the domestication of plants and animals—led to the birth of the horticultural and pastoral societies.

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