Modernity and Postmodernity

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Pre-modern society

Giddens - development

  • Hunting and gathering societies: simple division of labour, little inequality, elders had more power
  • Pastoral societies: based on domesticated animals, usually nomadic, more social inequality, could accumulate wealth (animals)
  • Agrarian societies: crop cultivation, domesticated animals, lived in settled villages, wealth through stocks of grain, more inequality 

Non-industrial civilisations

  • Emerged 6000 years ago
  • Based on rule of kings and emperors 
  • Developed agrarian economy
  • Specialised roles in art, science etc. 
  • Widespread inequalities in wealth, power and status
  • Think and act because of tradition, emotion and religion

Modern society

  • Industrialism - started in 18th century Britain
  • Production of goods using non-human power
  • Urbanism - movement of most of the population from rural areas to towns and cities 
  • New social classes developed e.g. ownership class and working class
  • Military power, professional armed services
  • Nation-state - clearly defined boundaries with power over may areas of civilians lives
  • Liberal democracy - adult citizens can elect who governs them
  • Change, pace of change greater e.g. World Wars, technology
  • Act due to rational, scientific though and action, not tradition, emotion or religion alone
  • Sociology took a scientific approach (Comte)



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