• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

How have societies changed over the past 5,000 years? Welcome to the brief, manageable macro-sociology text that takes your students on a journey to answer this question.

This book, the only brief and affordable macro-sociology text available for undergraduates, describes how societies have changed over the past five thousand years. The discussion focuses on the idea that industrial societies, despite their great success, have created a new set of recurring and unsolved problems which will serve as a major impetus for further social change. This book explores development through historical narrative and examines the globalization/development paradox through in-depth case studies.

Agrarian Societies
Agrarian societies

The invention of agriculture between about 10,000 to 11,000 years ago was the key technological development that shaped historical societies, those that most humans lived in until the 19th century. But it was the later invention of the state in about 3500 BCE that was the key social invention that determined how historical societies would be organized.

If cultures can be thought of as a set of codes that contain the knowledge as well as the hopes and fears of humans about their environment and as a whole set of blueprints for how to build social systems, then social systems themselves should be seen as the actual institutions that organize human activity. They never work as perfectly as the cultural codes demand, but it is from their successes and failures that cultures ...

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