Sociology, Politics, and Human Nature

by Rafael Yanushevsky (Author)
Monographs XVI, 306 Pages

Table Of Content


Sociology is the science of society, social institutions and social relationships. It studies the development, structure, interaction, and collective behavior of organized groups of human beings.

Macrosociology is the branch of sociology concerned with the study of human societies on a wide scale, at the level of social structure, considering them as large-scale social systems and analyzing the social processes and related changes in such systems.

By observing and getting knowledge of processes of non-live nature scientists established laws that enable people to develop in the future useful technological processes based on these laws. However, the related experiments at the initial stage of analysis of various natural phenomena required appropriate devices and an appropriate technological base, that is, it became possible only at a certain stage of societal development.

Natural sciences play a dominant role in technological progress of societies and improving living conditions of the population. The same useful role sociology can play if it would establish and prove rigorously the features of progressive societal structures.

Rigorous science includes many principles that are considered to be laws of nature. Many of them were obtained in the analytical form after multiple experiments proving their universal character (for example, Newton’s laws of motion). Sociological theories are not supported by such laws. Similar situation we have in economics. One of the most basic economic laws, the law of supply and demand that ties into almost all economic principles, is not considered by some scientists, who deny its universal nature, as a law. They believe that even the term economic law is misleading since most economic laws are observed regularities in phenomena and human behavior. But regularities are not necessarily universal. As a counterexample, they consider speculative bubbles (rising prices become a causal factor for the increased demand).

Irrational human behavior cannot be described satisfactory in an analytic form. As a result, the absence of rigorous laws presented in analytic form enables researchers to test various hypothesis and build various models to establish the relationship between their parameters based on historic data.

Social analysis has origins of ancient Greek philosopher Plato (3d century B.C.; maybe even earlier) who wrote about justice, wisdom and moderation of the individuals and society. The social theories developed later were focused on separate factors of human activities and served mostly political purposes. Marxist theory, based mostly on the socioeconomic analysis of the initial stage of capitalism, became a favored theoretical framework in the social sciences, influenced societal changes in some countries, and now few societies are still thoroughly Marxist. The simplistic presentation of the society (consisting only of two classes—the proletariat and the bourgeoisie), the consideration only of the market of products and lack of understanding that the same market approach should be applied to the labor force make Marxist theory pseudoscientific. Its conclusions are made based on the observation of only the initial stage of capitalism—the transient period from one to another economic formation. Marx did not see or refused to see the positive changes that can be crystalized in the future. He was in a hurry to predict a proletarian revolution that eventually leads to the establishment of socialism—a socioeconomic system based on social ownership of the means of production (non-human inputs used for the production of economic value, such as facilities, machinery, tools, infrastructural capital and natural capital) and distribution based on one’s contribution. As the productive forces continued to advance, Marx hypothesized that socialism would ultimately transform into a communist society—a classless, stateless, humane society based on common ownership and the underlying principle: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.”

Several race theories based on pseudoscientific hypotheses have had a serious impact on human history. The conclusions were made, for example, based on ranking the mental abilities of various ethnic groups. The racial hygienists of 19th and 20th century believed that lack of eugenics would lead to rapid social degeneration, the decline of civilization by the spread of inferior characteristics. According to these theories, some races are inferior to others and their authors consequently believed that the differential treatment of races was fully justified. Applying the principles of selective parents who will produce the strongest children, was introduced. However, such a recommendation had not been presented as a racial or genetic theory. Breeding to humans was suggested by Plato, far before the term eugenics, as the study of methods to improve the human race by carefully selecting parents who will produce the strongest children.

Nowadays, the study of the class inequality, as well as the studies of race, ethnicity, and gender have been modified; the most popular Marxist terms economic class struggle and surplus product are not used anymore. Marxist views changed to social views—the so-called social justice (universal health care; government support for young, elderly, and impoverished; free education, etc.). Politicians, the main carriers of such views, use them in their own interests. They focus on the less educated part of society, the low cultured part of the population—people who live with a hope of a better life and, as a result, who are more receptive to hear what is in their dreams.

The birth of cybernetics, the science of control and communication in both living and nonliving systems, as an independent science demonstrated the fact that, on the one hand, the scientific results related to the live nature processes can be used to create a new type of more sophisticated control systems for technological processes; on the other hand, the theoretical results of control theory can be applied to the analysis of the live nature processes, and human beings can be considered also as sophisticated complex control systems. The narrower view, common in Western countries, defines cybernetics as the science of the control of complex systems of various types—technical, biological, or social.

It would be naïve to expect any rigorous explanation of the functioning of the societies and their development without the usage of the results of biology, psychology, cognitive science, cognitive neuroscience and behavioral genetics. Human beings are the main players in social science and the more precise is their description, the more rigorous are the related theories.

In the book, system and control theories can be used to examine main characteristics of the societal systems and explain the main factors determining their dynamics.

In 16th century, Baruch Spinoza, trying to grasp the laws of nature, constructed the first thoroughly logical, consistent metaphysical system (by using the language of mathematics—definitions, axioms, propositions, and proofs of concepts) and made the first attempt at an objective, scientific study of human behavior. The following extensive period marked by the outstanding scientific achievements did not bring any deserving attention analytical models that can be used to analyze the dynamics of societal systems. It is impossible to expect this from the mathematical tools of system and control theories. Nevertheless, they can be used to examine the dynamics on the qualitative level.

Now when science became the authority and won the trust of people, sociology should play a leading role in societal development similar to in the development of production processes. Observing natural processes and studying mechanisms of these processes scientists created theoretical models, tested them, and applied to control technological processes using them to benefit people. Unfortunately, the current level of macrosociology cannot boast of a rigorous theory of societal development. Even its terminology leaves much to be desired. Many terms with multiple meanings have no rigorous definitions. As to the theories, their number exceeds significantly the number of theories related to natural sciences, and they contradict one another. The latest results in biology, physiology, psychology, and neuroscience enable scientists to better understand social processes and their dynamics. System analysis and control theory present a solid base to consider societal development as a process noncompliant to the laws of nature, where human actions and decision making determine its properties and specifics.

Basic facts about macrosociology and related models are given in Chapter 1. The system and control theory approaches are used to explain specifics of sociological models and structural components of social systems. These models belong to a class of the so-called active systems consisting of diverse members trying to pursue their own goals and the center establishing common goals for all members. The considered humanitarian model serves as the intermediate link between the reality and its mathematical model. However, for macrosociological models, at least now, humanitarian models are the only reliable tool to study complex social processes. The human motivation to reach certain goals is presented by well-being criteria, and the functioning of the whole societal system is viewed as an interconnection between its two main parts: administrative unit and production unit; it is an active system where each component acts to optimize its own well-being criterion. Organized religion is discussed as an independent source of power and one of factors that affects human behavior. Chapter 2 contains the generally accepted classification of societies and the characteristics that are associated with each type. Various existed approaches to the social development theories were discussed. The offered classification reflects societal changes linked to the economic development. Specific features of hunting and gathering, pastoral, horticultural, agricultural, industrial, and post-industrial societies are described. In Chapter 3 the historical examples of societal development enable us to check the validity of the existing social theories. Special attention is paid to a critical analysis of Marx’s theory and its modification. It is shown that ideology is the driving force of the societal changes and the dynamics of the administrative unit reflects the changes in ideology of society. Basic role of government and various existing administrative structures are discussed. Societal progress is evaluated by the improved living conditions of population. The country’s wealth per capita is chosen as a reasonable criterion measuring the living conditions. Based on the available research data it is shown that a larger wealth per capita corresponds to non-autocratic countries and countries with democratic governments. A more detail analysis of various societal structures was given in Chapters 4 and 5. Chapter 4 analyses the so-called pyramidal societal structures characterizing the autocratic societies: their formation and evolution. It explains the errors of Marx’s theory of social development. It is shown that the evolution produced the two types of structures: the so-called pseudo democratic societal structures (e.g., the former Soviet Union) and democratic societal structures (e.g., the United States). The existing modernized autocratic structures are also discussed. Using the language of formal logic, as it first had been done by a Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza in his book Ethics, the theorems were formulated and proved related to the formation of autocratic states and the basic features of societal systems with autocratic ideology: impedance to economic growth and improvement of people’s living standards; the source of social instability and frequent wars. The presented material explains why monarchies and empires had ruled the world for a long period of the human history, why democracies of the remote past had not survived, and why the Soviet Union had ended its existence. Chapter 5 considers various democratic structures depending on the type of control of their economic systems (control of the production unit): the capitalist societal structure corresponds to a pure market economy; a pure socialist system corresponds to a commanded economy; a real mixed democratic societal structure corresponds to a mixed economy (with elements of both capitalism and socialism). It is shown that democratic societal structures with properly balanced market and government channels are viable and efficient systems with a high standard of living. International organizations and their activity to accelerate cooperation between nations are described in Chapter 6, which contains the material related to the globalization process presented by its three components—economic globalization, political globalization, and cultural globalization. The role of information technology and the Internet as the means to speed up globalization is discussed. Globalism and nationalism are analyzed as the two currently competing political ideologies. The influence of global labor organizations on economic globalization and the related problem of free trade in the globalization era are discussed. The material of Chapter 7 deals with the most efficient contemporary political tools and the unhealthy political climate that can be created by the political elite violating ethical norms of society. The trade policy, discussed in the Chapter 6 as a part of economic globalization, is considered in this chapter in more details. Special consideration is given to media, which became a powerful political tool and the leaders of the influential media organizations became political players controlling the flow of information or misinformation. Since social control is a means to support the existing ethical norms and laws, which, unfortunately, some politicians violate, Chapter 7 considers this subject. Historical examples of cultural vandalism are chosen to demonstrate how politicians use social control to strengthen their positions. They violate the existing norms by encouraging such acts which reflect the worst aspects of human nature. The role of education as a means of social control is discussed. It is shown that democratic norms and beliefs are embedded in various types of ideologies (social democracy, liberal democracy, democratic socialism, and capitalist democracy) and are shared within groups represented by certain members of the political elite. The description of these types is accompanied with examples of American politics. Chapter 8 deals with health care, education, immigration, and environmental problems, the political issues that Americans rate as the most important. Some approaches to resolve them are discussed. Since recently articles in the media indicate that the U.S. is repeating the decline and fall of Rome, the last Chapter 9 analyzes main reasons of the fall of the Roman Empire comparing them with the existing destructive forces in the U.S. society, especially the government bureaucracy and corruption. It considers also the urgent problems related to national debt, health care, immigration, education, and environment requiring the government intervention. Special attention is paid to what should be done to prolong the United States’ status as the world’s only superpower.

The U.S. is undergoing a period of a certain political instability. Its political elite split up into two hostile camps. Congressional approval is inadmissibly low. The U.S. media that take sides in the conflict is responsible for the unhealthy political climate in the country. In a torrent of information and misinformation it is difficult for ordinary people to separate truth from lies and, as a result, to make the right choice participating in the future elections. Partially, this can be explained by the absence of books concerning sociology and related problems for persons without any special knowledge in this area. The book pursues the goal—to enrich readers’ knowledge about human societies, their development and moving forces, to be able to filter and understand better social media information and to be the true patriots.



System Approach to Macrosociology

“… everyone for himself in this desert of selfishness which is called life.”



The term society comes from a Latin word socious, which means companionship or friendship. Society consists of social relationships and has values and norms that guide these relationships. Society is groups of people who live in a certain domain and behave according to existing culture and morality. The process of development of human beings as a society is characterized by the form and patterns of human interactions that enable the society to maintain its existence. Since individuals of the society occupy a common territory, have common customs and traditions, common values, common history, and common cultures, interdependence on each other causes oneness, and they develop feeling of unity and solidarity among themselves. Sense of belonging and cooperation is the basic characteristic of society. Interdependence is its another important characteristic. The famous Greek philosopher Aristotle (384 B.C.–322 B.C.) remarked that ←1 | 2→“Man is a social animal.” As a social animal he is dependent on others. The survival and well-being of each member are very much dependent on this interdependence.

Each society has its own culture and the individual relationships are organized and structured by the culture. Culture includes many social aspects: language, customs, values, norms, rules, tools, technologies, products, organizations and institutions. Common institutions include family, education, religion, work and health care. Culture is the way of life of the members of a society. It consists of values, beliefs, morals, and other characteristics common to the members of a particular group or society. Each and every society transmits its cultural pattern to the succeeding generations.

The widely used term ideology refers to the beliefs and ideas shared by individuals applying to the society as a whole that form the basis of a social system. Ideology is linked to the societal structure, economic system of production, and political system. It emerges out of them and shapes them. Karl Marx (1818–1883) exploited this concept and used the term dominant ideology, which he interpreted as a system of morals and values established by those in power to control the working class. As a mechanism of social control, the dominant ideology characterizes how the majority of the population thinks about the nature of society, their place in society, and their connection to a social class.

The individuals in human society perform different activities and functions depending upon their sex, age, interest, abilities, skills and other qualifications. There exists division of labor depending upon sex and age. The division of labor among the individuals and the functions they perform create a system of social relationships among the members of the society. During these social relationships people gather and interact with others to exchange ideas, offer support and receive a sense of belonging. Collaborative relationships between a society’s members can enable them to benefit in ways that would not otherwise be possible on an individual basis.

The term stratification is used to describe the way in which different groups of people are placed within society. Stratification is not about individual inequalities, but about systematic inequalities based on social standing. The status of people is often determined by how society is stratified—the basis of which can include: wealth, income, race, education, and power. Wealth and income present the most common basis of stratification.

Members of a society are socially organized. Society itself has a definite structure, and the important components and elements of the social structure are norms, rules, statuses, power, authority, groups, associations and institutions. The ←2 | 3→norms and institutions are necessary for social stability; they help maintain society in social equilibrium—a state when there exists a dynamic working balance among the interdependent parts of the societal system.

A dominant larger society can also include social groups of like-minded people governed by their own norms and values. With the help of these norms and values the group exercises some sort of control over its members and their activity. Members of the group show similar behavior. This similar behavior helps in the achievement of the group goals. However, for the common goals of the whole society, individual and separate group interests can be sacrificed. A large society is not a homogenous entity but is instead internally structured and subdivided by processes of social closure, when groups try to maximize their well-being by the exclusion of others from their group.

Society can be considered as a stable operating system where its members, diverse in nature and attitude, share a common culture, develop unity, oneness, integrity, and collective consciousness in pursuing the common goals.

There are six types of society that are accepted by the sociologists, each of which possesses their own unique characteristics (see, e.g., Giddens, 2001; Ritzer and Murphy, 2019):

  • Hunting and gathering societies
  • Pastoral societies
  • Horticultural societies
  • Agricultural societies
  • Industrial societies
  • Post-industrial societies

The first archaic humans are believed to live in Africa 1.8 million years ago. Later they have spread beyond this region and reached Eastern and Southern Asia. More than 0.5 million years ago they settled down in much cooler areas as well, such as Northern Europe. 60,000 years ago humans colonized Australia. About 20,000 years later they started spreading throughout Europe. Until now, researchers believed early humans populated North America and South America only about 20,000 years ago. However, the recent controversial research suggests that they could live there 130,000 years ago.

The period from 40,000 years ago until the end of the last Ice Age around 10000 B.C. is known as the Upper Paleolithic, the last phase of the Stone Age. This period is considered as the starting point of our ancestors. Ten thousand years ago there were only 10 million people in the world. By 2000 B.C. there ←3 | 4→were around 100 million, and now the number of people on our planet is around 6 billion.

If our earliest ancestors lived in caves and rock shelters, the nowadays cities contain buildings reaching a height of 100–500 m. If the relatively small population of the earliest ancestors, compared the current population on the Earth, struggled to get food for survival, now the food problem does not exist, and the level of the quality of life of our contemporaries is incomparably higher. Humans have learned not only how to adapt to the environment but also how to change it and use for own purposes. The gigantic steps forward in development of the human society during its multi-century history are the result of drastic transformations of humans themselves.

Without knowledge of basic human characteristics and their dynamics it is impossible to examine the societal dynamics. The shape of the human body evolved according to the regions and climates and helped humans to survive. The human brain, from the earliest origins of man to the present day, has expanded and grown in complexity and ability. Its development was influenced by changing needs and environmental factors. Key human characteristics, such as making and using tools and weapons, developing a system of communication through symbols and sounds, and developing social, political and economic systems of interaction, have contributed significantly to the human survival. Success in biology, physiology, and psychology enable scientists to study the basic human characteristics. Their results are used in the developed sociological models.

Specifics of Sociological Models

It is well known that investigation of processes and phenomena is linked, first of all, with the construction of mathematical models describing these processes and phenomena using mathematical language. The model is characterized by some parameters. These parameters include input variables (which are called control actions or simply controls if a system can be intelligently manipulated), output variables or output coordinates (which are called controlled variables if they are objects of control), and finally state variables, which characterize internal properties of processes and phenomena.

In most cases processes are not considered in isolation. The influence of other processes and phenomena on the process under investigation is characterized by the so-called disturbing influences or, simply, disturbances.

←4 | 5→

Economists and sociologists use the terms exogenous variables, factors whose value is independent from the values of other variables of the economic or sociological model, and endogenous variables whose value is determined or influenced by the values of other variables of the model. This terminology linked to time series analysis of causal processes and models, which economists and sociologists use to analyze current and forecast future developments of the processes.

However, the mentioned terms are explained differently in the literature (for example, exogenous variables are determined outside the system; endogenous variables are determined inside the system), and they do not add too much compared with the well-established terms—independent and dependent variables.

An exogenous variable is by definition one whose value is wholly causally independent from other variables in the system. There is statistical interpretation of exogeneity. The statistical concept emphasizes non-correlation between the exogenous variable and the other independent variables included in the model. Normal regression models assume that all the independent variables are exogenous.

Webster’s dictionary defines exogenous as originating outside, derived externally and endogenous as proceeding from within, derived internally. System theory related terminology looks more thought-out than the above discussed terms and it can be used successfully for analysis of economic systems.

Sociological models by their nature are simplifications of a complex social reality. They capture the essence of a social dynamics and include fundamental forces that drive certain social parameters. Any model is a simplified reflection of the reality. Most of the models used in sociology are static econometric models. Over the course of human history, people have developed many validated ideas about the physical, biological, psychological, and social worlds (see Wiener, 1948). Those ideas have enabled following generations to deepen their knowledge about the material world and its phenomena. The existing theories are the result of observation, thinking, experimenting, and validating. The laws of physics are the result of studies of non-living systems. The corresponding models are reliable tools which are widely used in everyday practice. Behavioral sciences, analyzing human and animal behavior, established many interesting facts. For example, observations of behavior of predators pursuing their victims allowed scientists to formulate the parallel navigation rule and create theory of guidance (see, e.g., Yanushevsky, 2011). However, in contrast to the physical laws, some behavioral and social theories are still cannot be considered as universal, especially, those that relate to human behavior. Although scientists succeeded in establishing certain behavioral patterns of ←5 | 6→many animals, human beings are too complicated objects to be described by a certain comprehensive model. It is almost impossible to find two persons thinking and acting identically.

Being children of Nature people are empowered by innate instincts and inherited complex patterns of behavior to satisfy specific needs. Despite various definitions of the term instinct and related theories based on its interpretation, the life instincts that deal with basic survival (the need to defend from danger, to have a place to live, food and clothing) and pleasure (the need to explore everything to get something good or much wanted to feel gratification) are used by overwhelming majority of psychologists and considered as the most important ones. Instincts and instinctive behaviors can be considered as embedded genetic goals and the realization of these goals. In contrast to biologically programmed instincts that serve as internal stimuli, the environmental influence serves as external stimulus. Internal and external stimuli influence the behavior of individuals. As a result, each human is unique and the human population is so diverse: it consists of many complex social groups with an extremely wide variety of values, social norms, and customs. All above mentioned makes doubtful any attempt to present the behavior of a group of individuals by a pragmatic representative (although some existing models still use such an approach). Only in extreme situations (e.g., a war, economic crisis, epidemic, etc.) the behavior of many individuals shows similar features; but even in such situations usually there are groups that behave differently.

Calling Man “a political animal” Aristotle as if emphasized difficulties in building a model of human behavior. The human factor is an integral part of economic models. It is present—directly or indirectly—in economic models. Supply and demand are the result of human activity. People make goods and provide services, and they are consumers of goods and services. Their behavior depends on too many factors and hence cannot be predicted accurately. This specifics of economic models and related economic theories make it difficult to use them for long-term forecasts.

As to macrosociological models, they are more complicated than macroeconomic models that focus only on the specific human activity—production of goods and services.

The most important part of building a model is to identify main factors describing the process since too complex models can work as unsatisfactory as too simple ones. An extensive passion for statistics can be a source of big errors since any step back in the past may bring the situation drastically different from the current one.

←6 |

The dynamic processes that we observe in our everyday life are self-regulated processes. They are self-regulated by their very nature. They have built-in feedback characteristics that cause the process to tend towards its initial or new stable position. Considering social processes from the position of control theory, we should distinguish internal forces (internal controls) generated in a human brain that produce the stabilizing effect and external control actions (the result of interaction with other human beings that focus to reach a certain goal, e.g., concerning parameters characterizing the productivity of resources, factors that define social stratification).

Control is the basis of all objects of live nature. They all, from the simplest to most sophisticated complex forms, are self-regulated adaptive systems which exist because their ability to adjust to the environment. Human beings are able to learn the environmental processes and use them for their purposes.

Our brain is a sophisticated controller made up of a network of cells called neurons coupled to receptors, which monitor changes in the external and internal environment and provide the input to the network, and effectors. The brain produces far more than only a simple stimulus-response channel from receptors to effectors. The vast network of neurons is interconnected in multiple overlapping loops so that signals entering the network from receptors interact there with billions of signals already traversing the system, not only to yield the signals that control the effectors but also to modify the state of the brain, the very properties of the network itself, so the future behavior will reflect prior experience.

The brain has billions of neurons, and they have many specialized jobs. For example, sensory neurons take information from the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and skin to the brain. Motor neurons carry messages away from the brain and back to the rest of the body. All neurons relay information to each other through a complex electrochemical process, making connections that affect the way we think, learn, move, and behave. When we learn things, messages repeat traveling from one neuron to another, and the brain creates links between the neurons, so we can do them better and better. Memory is another complex function of the brain. The things we have done, learned, and seen are first processed in the cortex, the outer layer of cerebrum, the most superior and anterior of the brain’s major regions, and then, if we sense that this information is important enough to remember permanently, it is passed inward to other regions of the brain for longterm storage and retrieval. As these messages travel through the brain, they create pathways that serve as the basis of our memory. Different parts of the cerebrum are responsible for moving different body parts. The brain tells virtually parts of a human body what to do, all the time, being active even during our sleep. It ←7 | 8→controls what a human thinks (or even might not think about) and feels, how he learns and remembers, and the way he moves.

If in the 1950s and 1960s psychologists focused on behavior and learning theory, then later cognition became their focus and the term learning was used to refer to any change in behavior that results from experience (Hergenhahn, 2000) since, although to a degree some of our actions are surely influenced by our genes or just by human nature, most of our behavior has been learned from experience. The latest results in neuroscience, the scientific study of the nervous system (a neuron is a nerve cell), brought to life cognitive psychology that focuses on the relationship between cognitive or mental processes and behavior.

By using the control theory terminology, as an object of control, a human being can be presented as a complex control system including the measurement unit (receptors of sense organs), the controller (brain), and the servo system (extremities effectors). The human sense organs (eyes, ears, tongue, skin, and nose) gather information on the ambient environments and send it to the brain that analyzes it and generates internal forces determining an appropriate human behavior. The human brain is a sophisticated controller containing multiple channels of control and able not only to produce certain types of behavior but also to forecast events and generate behaviors based on such predictions. The system output is human behaviors, and the ambient unit characterizes the environment in which humans operate.

Specifics of a human being as an object of control is in his/her ability act without the external control. Humans present the active systems; they have internal controls supporting their activity, in contrast to classical control theory objects that are incapable to operate without control actions.

The ability to function independently, without external control actions, demonstrates the human strong desire to be free. As to the external controls, their actions can be positive if they create a positive human reaction (e.g., an approval of a job performance) or negative, if the reaction is negative (e.g., the case of forced and compulsory labor).

In system and control theories the term feedback refers to the channel of information used to compare the desired system behavior with its real output and improve it by routing the output of a system back to its input. In the case of the so-called negative feedback, usually in control theory the input signal represents the desired system behavior and the difference between the input and output is used to make the output close to the input. However, the negative feedback can be used also to decrease the input effect (if the input is a disturbance) or even to block it. In the case of the so-called positive feedback, the feedback loop increases ←8 | 9→the effect of the input. Rather than the stability and equilibrium produced by negative feedback, positive feedback promotes change and can produce instability in systems.

Our body uses the feedback it receives from a particular process to monitor how well it is functioning. It is the general mechanism of nervous or hormonal control and regulation, the process controlled by the human brain, which, based on the outcome, decides whether it should continue or stop performing a specific action.

A feedback mechanism is a part of various complex processes of different nature. It is widely used in technical systems. Many biochemical processes are controlled by negative feedback. In contrast to positive feedback, negative feedback is a type of regulation in biological systems in which the end product of a process reduces the stimulus of that same process.

In humans, feedback mechanisms monitor and maintain their physiological activities. They allow an organism to regulate their internal environment (its internal processes and biological variables) and maintain homeostasis, the organism’s tendency toward internal equilibration. Control centers in the brain and other parts of the body monitor and react to deviations from homeostasis using negative feedback. In system and control theories the property of a system to support its states is called self-regulation. For active systems (related to humans) self-regulation consists of deliberate efforts by the self to maintain or alter its own states and responses, including behavior, thoughts, impulses, emotions, and task performance.

In sociology, system output is human behavior, and many scientists in this field link feedback with purposeful behavior (see Churchman and Ackoff, 1950), considering feedback as an important embodiment of purposeful behavior: feedback works only when there is a goal for the system and deviations of the actual output from the goal are identified or measured.

Constructive feedback in sociology is indispensable to productive collaboration. Feedback is effective when the recipient is able to receive the information and adjust his or her behavior accordingly.

The history of human behavior started from the discovery of inborn patterns of behavior and factors that motivate them. The psychological approach to motivation began with Freud, who stated that humans are motivated by two primal inborn instincts or drives (that is, in the absence of learning, without being based upon prior experience): the self-preservation and sexual instincts. The self-preservation instincts (e.g., fear, anger, jealousy and envy, curiosity, sociability, sympathy, rivalry) motivate behaviors related to our survival. The sexual instincts ←9 | 10→(e.g., sexual love) motivate behaviors related to organ pleasure, which develop into behaviors related to reproduction. Many psychologists criticized term instinct as non-precise. That is why we used above also the term drive. (Now in dictionaries we can find the definition of instinct: an inborn pattern of behavior that is characteristic of a species and is often a response to specific environmental stimuli).

Psychologists have proposed different theories of motivation including instinct theory, drive theory, and humanistic theory.

The instinct theory of motivation suggests that behaviors are motivated by instincts, which are fixed and inborn patterns of behavior. According to the drive theory of motivation organisms are born with certain psychological needs having the power of driving the behavior of an individual, and that a negative state of tension is created when these needs are not satisfied. Hull (1952) believed that internal biological needs, or drives, motivated us to perform a certain way. These drives were defined as internal states of arousal or tension which should be reduced (e.g., the internal feelings of hunger or thirst, which motivates us to eat). According to the drive reduction theory, we are driven to reduce these drives. Adler (1956) argued that people have a universal drive to strive for superiority. Persons try to improve themselves, adapt and master life’s challenges. This rather than sexual pleasure is the primary motivation for behavior. According to Adler, the goal of superiority, of power, of the conquest of others, is the goal which directs the activity of most human beings. Under conditions of scarcity, people tend to become more aggressive. Under conditions of adequate resources but no surplus they demonstrate more cooperative and sharing behavior. Under conditions of surplus goods, people tend to be more selfish, while cooperating with a few to control the surplus (e.g., see Van den Berghe, 1975).

According the humanistic theory of motivation, humans are driven to achieve their maximum potential and will always do so unless obstacles are placed in their way. These obstacles can be hunger, thirst, financial problems, safety issues, health and some others. The humanistic theory of motivation is based on the idea that people are motivated to satisfy: basic biological needs (food and shelter); security and safety needs (financial security, health and wellness, safety against accidents and injury); social needs (friendships, family, social groups, community groups, churches and religious organizations); esteem needs (appreciation and respect); self-actualization needs (to achieve full potential) (see Maslow, 1954).

Several cognitive theories (see, e.g., Wadsworth, 2004) attempt to explain human motivation. The self-determination theory focuses on what influences intrinsic motivation. Other theories focus on our goal-setting behaviors. The psychic life of human being is determined by his goal. From the standpoint of nature, ←10 | 11→human being is an inferior organism and this feeling of insecurity is constantly present in his consciousness forcing him to find better ways in adapting to nature.

Different types of motivation are frequently described as being either extrinsic or intrinsic. Intrinsic motivations are those that arise from within the individual; they generate internal controls. Extrinsic motivations are those that arise from outside of the individual and generate external controls.

The incentive theory (see, e.g., Laffont and Martimort, 2001) suggests that people are motivated to do things because of external rewards. For example, a person might be motivated to go to work each day for the monetary reward. Behavioral learning concepts such as association and reinforcement play an important role in this theory of motivation. People intentionally pursue certain courses of action in order to gain rewards. The greater the perceived rewards, the more strongly people are motivated to pursue those reinforcements.

The behavior of a separate individual is changed by the behavior of others, and a person’s behavior in groups differs from the behavior on his/her own. Social psychology studies the various influences of social environment and how it influences human behavior. Social environment is a part of the environment that include also the non-live nature. The human ability to learn enables humans to transfer processes of non-live nature to improve their life.

The existence of various motivation theories is the evidence of difficulties to prove their universal character—the necessary condition for any rigorous theory. However, the abovementioned motivation theories contain many common features, although they may look different because of different terminology and testing procedures. From the position of system theory the human motivation can be presented by one criterion—optimization of human well-being. Human well-being is a broad concept, one that includes many aspects of our everyday lives. It encompasses material well-being, relationships with family and friends, and emotional and physical health. Its important components are wealth, power, and prestige. Behaviors related to human survival correspond to the minimal value of this criterion. For various individuals the maximal values of this index are different. They depend on the level of the society development, its moral codes of behavior and other restraining internal and external factors.

Human evolution, according to the Darwin (1809–1882) theory, is the result of natural selection. In his book On the Origin of Species, he determined evolution as the process by which organisms change over time as a result of changes in heritable physical or behavioral traits. These changes allow an organism to better adapt to its environment. They, in turn, help the organism to survive and have more offspring. Darwin affirmed that “individuals with the best genetic fitness ←11 | 12→for the environment will produce offspring that can more successfully compete in that environment. Thus the subsequent generation will have a higher representation of these offspring and the population will have evolved.”

Natural selection favors individuals who have genes that produce characteristics that give them a survival advantage. This survival advantage means that such individuals are more likely to live long enough to reproduce and give this advantage to their children. Over generations, more and more of the population has this advantage as those without it are more likely to die before reproducing. (Darwin knew that in living organisms many characteristics are inherited, or passed from parent to offspring, though he did not know that traits were inherited via genes.)

The mechanism of natural selection rests on the assumption that beneficial characteristics are passed more or less intact from one generation to the next. With the discovery of the structure of DNA the evolution theory and natural selection obtain a rigorous justification. Biologists define evolution as genetic change in a population across generations. Organisms from more adaptive populations pass their DNA on to their progeny. Over time, this process of genetic change can give rise to new genes, new traits and new species, all brought about through changes in the genetic code or DNA.

Natural selection depends on the environment. It favors traits that are beneficial (that is, help an organism survive and reproduce more effectively than its peers) in a specific environment. Traits that are helpful in one environment might actually be harmful in another. Darwin’s idea of natural selection enables us to consider our basic instincts as an unconscious adaptation to the changing environment without conscious understanding the nature of change.

The brain functions empower humans with ability of thinking, reasoning, and insightful learning. Those who use it better adjust to the environment better, make their adaptation process easier. Of course, the environment itself induces humans to develop appropriate features. As a result, the conscious adaptation to various environments creates variety of individuals (the assumption and necessary condition of natural selection theory), each of them maximizes the chosen well-being criterion that guides the human activity. In his book The Wealth of Nations (1776) the father of the political economy Adam Smith wrote: “Every man is rich or poor according to the degree in which he can afford to enjoy the necessaries, conveniences, and amusements of human life.”

Complex systems consist of subsystems and the indicated above feedback properties are applicable to subsystems as well. A complex social system is a system whose behavior is primarily the result of the behavior of many social agents.

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The detailed study of dynamic objects starts from analyzing their static characteristics. Looking at the static characteristics enables us to determine the level of an object potentials and limits. Any mathematical model is only a copy (with a certain accuracy) of a real process and natural phenomenon. This is the result of using the language of mathematics for description of real processes and phenomena. The humanitarian model serves as the intermediate link between the reality and its mathematical model and the basis for building a mathematical model and its future improvement. However, for macrosociological models, at least now, humanitarian models are the only reliable tool to study complex social processes.

As indicated earlier, the presence of the human factor and human diversity do not enable us to describe social dynamics in the analytical form. Moreover, the quality of the data is never as good as one would like, especially if a dynamic model is built. That is why at the current level of knowledge about human behavior the only reasonable societal model is a humanitarian one, explaining societal development by analyzing the structural changes and determining the main factors of these changes.

Basic Structural Components of Social Systems

Human civilization has manifested itself in a series of organizational social structures. Decisions made by human beings are aimed to avoid pain or gain pleasure. Being active systems, humans try to optimize their personal well-being criteria by their activities which provide them, as a minimum, with food and shelter, and allow them to reproduce. The mentioned minimum is the common goal and the main factor explaining why persons self-organize in certain structures.

However, a society can exist, grow, and develop normally only if the following so-called boundary conditions on its members’ behavior, the norms of behavior, are observed:

  • members of society are prohibited to murder one another
  • members of society are prohibited to rob one another
  • members of society are prohibited to deceive one another

The indicated earlier self-preservation instincts such as fear, anger, jealousy, envy, and rivalry, motivating behaviors related to our survival, do not exclude assault, murder, robbery, and fraud as actions to reach an individual’s goals. By introducing the norms of behavior, the society creates conditions for its survival.

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The narrowest form of clan, called the gens, was the first elementary unit of society. This was an association of persons who were traceably of one blood or kinship so that all its members follow the law: one—for all and all—for one. All property was in common within the gens, and descent was traced not through the father but through the mother, who was the obvious parent of the child. A clan’s members occupied a certain territory on which they earned a livelihood. The members of this unit also defended the clan from enemies (other unfriendly clans). Interrelationships between separate clans (friendly or hostile) resulted in the development of the clans into federated tribes.

This type of societies required an administrative unit that would direct actions of the society that would benefit its members, develop the policy dealing with neighbors, etc., that is, to conduct the internal and external policies. (In a clan administrative functions were put in hands of more experienced its members—usually, elders made decisions.) The initial universal unit was separated into several units—focused separately on production (supply its members with food and shelter) and defense (protect the societies and land that was the main wealth determining their existence). The division of society into military and civilian components (an example of specialization) enabled the community to develop economically at the same time as it expanded or defended itself militarily. Such a structural change demonstrates that the society reached a new higher organizational level. Society develops by becoming more organized.

The growth and development of a system is usually characterized by increasing specialization of system components and increasing exchanges between the system and outer environment that includes various types of other systems.

The evolution of human civilization is characterized by increasing specialization, production and trade within social systems and increasing levels of external contact through trade, exploration, and military conquest. Usually social systems with higher degrees of specialization and trade, both internally and externally, are more productive and provide sustainable and secure livelihoods for their members.

The development of a society is the process that moves it from lesser to greater levels of complexity, efficiency, productivity, creativity, and accomplishment. Development is not merely a quantitative increase in the level of activity or accomplishment but a qualitative change in the way the activity is carried. Political, social, economic and technological development are various expressions of the development that serve as its efficiency criteria.

Every social system has certain goals to be attained. Adaptation to the social and nonsocial environment is a necessary condition to achieve these goals. Lack ←14 | 15→of adaptability very often has caused the social system to be challenged and triggered revolution resulting in the overhauling of the system.

The existence of human societies is the result of the purposeful activity of their members to control the production of material wealth needed to support and improve the level of live of the society. Economics regards human labor as one of the inputs for production of goods and services. The production unit of a societal structure is its main component characterizing the state of the society development. If initially human resources were predominantly in the form of physical labor, later the individual’s mental capabilities are called more and more into play. The acquired knowledge became a decisive factor of evolution of the entire society and had a profound effect on all aspects of social life. Division of labor enabled people to carry out simultaneously vast numbers of different activities. With the development of societies, productive (useful for a society) labor more and more was transformed into control of technological processes. Discovering laws of nature and understanding the mechanism of natural processes people learned how to control them and use for their purposes. Observing the development of plants and animals people created agriculture as a reliable source for their existence. It became a key factor in the rise of sedentary human civilization. Transformation of physical labor in control of technological processes increased significantly its productivity and improved the level of life in society. Development of natural sciences enabled people to learn how to control physical, chemical, and biological processes. Mental labor became more complex and its part, compared with physical labor, was growing. Its weight in the production unit was increasing. The development of various services that made people’s everyday life easier and brought new useful information, knowledge, and entertainment making life more diverse and interesting, changed significantly the production unit. The greater the number of functions were performed by the production unit, the more complex it became. The more complex the production unit, the greater its productive potential.

The administrative unit defines a society’s goals and supervises all aspects of life of different social groups in the society. Its efforts focus on directing the society to achieve these goals. Ensuring discipline in society is one of the most important responsibilities of the administrative unit. With the growth and development of a society both the production and administrative units become more complex. The efficiency of the decision-making process in the administrative unit and the reliability of information about the activity of the production unit depend on the societal structure which, as the human history demonstrates, is the factor influencing significantly the progress of society.

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The abovementioned description related to the administrative unit does not mean that the production unit is completely subordinated to it. The production process has its supervisors and managers, and the production unit has a certain structure depending on the degree of development of a society. The interaction between these units depends on the structure of the administrative unit.

As indicated earlier, social systems consisting of activities of separate individuals or a groups of individuals belong to the so-called class of active systems. The theory of such systems was developed in the former Soviet Union. Surprisingly, its pioneer work had been published in 1970, only several years after the government allowed scientists to work in such areas as operations research, system analysis and game theory. Significant contributions to the theory have been done after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The so-called stimulation problem and the stimulation strategy of the center are one of the important components of the active systems. The stimulating approach follows from incentive theory of motivation, in which our behaviors are driven by the desire for rewards. A possible stimulation principle can be formulated as the following: if you act in a certain way, the center will reward you; otherwise your reward will be zero. To be awarded, separate subsystems, acting in their own interests, can try to deceive the center providing inaccurate information about their functioning. The optimal stimulating strategy should make it disadvantageous for the subsystems to generate misinformation. The stimulating strategy of the center is the pivot of resolving the conflict between the interests of the center and the local subsystems.

Considering the administrative unit as the center, the stimulating strategy is only one of approaches of interaction with the subsystems. Historical examples (see Chapter 4) show that in many cases the stimulation principle was accompanied by punishment methods and instead of zero reward the conflict between administrative and production units can cost even human lives.

Large complex social systems are active systems consisting of many individuals interconnected by the information network and presenting a united organism with its own control unit. The structure of these systems, their functioning and development are determined by the interaction of their components between themselves and the environment (for simplicity, here we considered only the two most important subsystems—the production and administrative units). Although separate individuals, the elements of social systems, potentially are free to act as they like, in reality, to survive they become a part of the united social organism. Their behavior is determined by instincts (see the previous section) and certain norms established and controlled by the administrative unit. These norms ←16 | 17→of behavior depend on the dominant ideology in a society. They establish rules of behavior in a society and with other societies.

The viability of a society rests on its unity. This is reached by the requirement to observe the established norms of behavior and, in some cases, by a stimulating policy.

Although social control systems differ from technical control systems, they both utilize the same methods of control: feedback and feedforward principles. Social controls focus on supporting the viability of the society. Its members self-regulate their activity and accept any social commands that are useful for their well-being; but they resist, as a rule, to social commands that destroy it. The society’s members perform diligently the administrative unit commands (feedforward controls) until they trust the administration and believe in usefulness of its policy. In a case of the lost trust, only simulative or punishing control actions can produce the desired effect. However, in this case the efficiency of control action will be lower and, as a result, the society development will be slower.

Interpretation of the Well-Being Criterion

Natural human desires for economic welfare and liberty, in accordance with the existing norms of behavior, are derived from human drives to maximize material well-being and to exercise basic freedoms.

In the 1970s, Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky proved that humans are not rational and systematically make choices that defy clear logic. In 2002, Daniel Kahneman and, in 2017, Richard Thaler won Nobel Prize in economics for demonstrating systematic individual irrational decision making. The above-mentioned scientists demonstrated that individuals consistently make illogical choices that sabotage their economic interests while simultaneously believing that they are totally rational.

Does it mean that the explanation of human activity by using the well-being criterion is not valid? The term rational itself requires clarification. Traditional economic theory assumed that human beings are rational actors, which means they can generally be relied upon to act in ways they perceive as furthering their own best interests. This idea was called rational choice theory (or expected utility theory). If a rational human behavior is the result of the optimization procedure, as it is presented in many macroeconomics models, then it is impossible not to agree with the mentioned scientists. Moreover, such models are unreliable to be ←17 | 18→used in practice. Comparison of rational actions with logical ones requires a certain criterion for a proper conclusion.

According to Webster’s dictionary, rational means having reason or understanding. A rational decision can be discussed and judged by other persons, whereas a logical decision can be shown to be correct with a mathematical proof. But how one trust to the judgment of others if their judgments can be irrational. As to mathematical tools applied to the human models, they are unreliable. Is it not a catch-22 situation? Maybe that is why Kahneman and Tversky also acknowledge that being irrational is a good thing, and humans often make better decisions as a result.

Although scientists showed that it was possible to prove contradictions in human behavior, this relates to separate actions rather than to the behavior during a certain period of human life. The well-being criterion relates to the process of an individual functioning—rather than to separate human actions. The optimal solution depends on the information about a person’s characteristics (the so-called state coordinates of a model) and the environment he/she operates in during the considered time interval. Since this information is not known (a model would be based on forecasting data), it is obvious that not only contradictions in human behavior can happen but also rude mistakes. Moreover, the well-being criterion is a vector criterion. As a mathematical problem, the multi criteria problem usually has no solution, and instead of the initial criteria a compromised criterion containing the vector components is considered. Directly or indirectly, the components are presented with different weights underlying their significance and priorities which change during the period of human life. In addition to the natural desire and aspiration to have food and shelter, to function normally other components of the well-being criterion are forming during the process of human development.

Interaction between people enables them to compare their abilities. Envy, as the instinct mentioned earlier, is the reflection of such a comparison. It is especially directed at those with whom we compare ourselves, such as our neighbors and relatives. As Bertrand Russell (1872–1970), a British philosopher, historian, and social critic, said, “Beggars do not envy millionaires, though of course they will envy other beggars who are more successful.” Envy is common to all times and peoples. According to the Wisdom of Solomon (or the Book of Wisdom) it is “through the devil’s envy that death entered the world.” According to the Book of Genesis, it is from envy that Cain murdered his brother Abel. On the one hand, envy is a positive factor, as a stimulus for the improvement of skills, obtaining the new ones, and getting more knowledge. This allows person to ←18 | 19→grow physically and mentally. Some persons stop after reaching a certain level of skills and knowledge. Being own judges, they conclude that they cannot move forward anymore or simply they are satisfied with the reached status. Others may conclude that they deserve a higher position in a society and try their best to reach a higher status. On the other hand, envy can create antagonism between persons and even, as with Cain and Abel, destroy lives. In modern Russia, Marxism is ridiculed as a teaching about human envy. All depends on our attitude. In the Art of Rhetoric, Aristotle (2011) explaining why some people can rise to emulation, while most seem limited to envy, says that emulation is felt most of all by those who believe themselves to deserve certain good things that they do not yet have, and most keenly by those with an honorable or noble disposition.

The developed in 1970s–1980s social identity theory presents in a more rigorous form what was observed and indicated in the past. It explains how individuals create and define their place in society (see Tajfel, 2010). According to the theory, three psychological processes are central in that regard: social categorization, social comparison, and social identification. Social categorization refers to the tendency of people to perceive themselves as a certain group members rather than separate and unique individuals. Social comparison is the process by which people determine the relative value or social standing of a particular group and its members. Social identification reflects the notion that people own sense of who they are and how they relate to others is typically implicated in the way they view other individuals and groups around them.

As mentioned in the previous section, each person is unique and possesses different human characteristics inherited and also obtained during the development in the environment in which he/she is raised and acts. Interaction between individuals and mutual comparison of abilities and knowledge result in social stratification. Usually, people with mutual interests, similar skills and/or level of knowledge or wealth form separate groups. As indicated earlier, in a more general form, stratification defines groups of people divided into layers according to their relationships to power, property and prestige. This is a way of ranking large groups of people into upper, middle and lower classes. For persons belonging to different groups the meaning of well-being sounds differently. For one person this is a wealth at a certain lever, for other—respect and prestige; some persons dream to dedicate their live to something special (e.g., service to God, art, music, etc.). Greater wealth, comfort, and material security appear to be primary motives for development, but the drive to maintain or elevate social position and prestige is usually a more powerful motivating force.

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Formation of a society with different groups of people requires the identification of a leader who could direct its activity to achieve common goals. The greater the strength of the leader, the greater the stability, internal order and fighting capacity of the society. With the development of the society and the growth of its administrative and production units, the leaders of these units and their subdivisions arise. They direct the actions of the subordinate groups, give instructions and enforce discipline.

The study of leadership is a part of organizational psychology. As indicated above, usually, a strong desire to elevate social position and prestige is a powerful motivation to pursue this goal, so that the power and prestige are the most important components of the well-being criterion for the higher levels of leadership.

Individuals involved in decision making concerning the economic development of a society, the main part of the internal policy, and the foreign policy, relations with the outer world, belong to the so-called political elite. Vilfredo Pareto (1935), who developed the elite theory of politics, introduced the term elite as a class of the people “who have the highest indices in their branch of activity” and divided this class in two: “a governing elite, comprising individuals who directly or indirectly play some considerable part in government, and non-governing elite, comprising the rest.” A political elite is motivated by an ambition to obtain money, power and distinctions. This group benefits from durable privileges and inequalities of access to wealth and income. Such a case, for example, as the resignation of the British Prime Minister David Cameron following Britain’s vote to leave the European Union (EU), is beneath common nowadays since the political elite’s central concern is achieving and preserving power.

The political elite, being the planners and decision-makers, play a very significant role in the country’s development, so that in the economic development as well. President Reagan’s words “Are you better off now than you were four years ago? Is it easier for you to go and buy things in the stores than it was four years ago? Is there more or less unemployment in the country than there was four years ago? Is America as respected throughout the world as it was?” establish the main criterion (Are you better off now than you were four years ago?) and related sub-criteria that should be considered by citizens to evaluate the performance of a political elite. In the above example the economic criteria are dominant as the country should be able to feed and clothe its citizen, and the political elite is responsible for economic stability and security of citizens first and foremost. As to the country’s international standing, it is largely driven by the strength of the economy.

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A belief in the way the administrative unit should operate within a society characterizes a political ideology of its members. In complex highly developed societies the dominant political ideology coexists with ideologies of separate groups which have their political leaders. For example, in the United States, most citizens consider themselves liberal, moderate, and conservatives. There are countries where a majority of people is socialists or communists. The political spectrum of a society is usually described along a left-middle-right line: left—liberals, middle—moderate, and right—conservatives. Liberals denounce economic and social inequality. They support unions’ rights to organize and strike, progressive taxation, a clear environment, free education, affordable health care, and other social programs. Conservatives believe in a small government, firm law, and strict moral codes.

Fighting for power, politicians support different ideological groups. As a result, the political elite is also ideologically divided, and its members try to present themselves as leaders of separate ideological groups. Most of politicians lack serious economic knowledge and use economists to prepare proposals formulating the proposed economic policy containing future promises that, as a rule, are highly unrealistic. Although the performance of the economy is one of the key political battlegrounds, insufficient proficiency in economy makes politicians unable to be very persuasive in this area. Trying to jump on the political elite train, they deliberately prioritize other topics (e.g., climate change, pollution, immigration, etc.) targeting special group of population (with low level of education, minorities, etc.) to get their votes. However, such an activity only hurts the country, and the damage level depends upon the governmental structure, the current economic situation and correlation of political forces in the country.

Politicians like to talk about economic growth. However, as a rule, they do not work with economists to develop a real efficient economic policy. They are interested only in keeping their elite or pseudo elite positions. The size of the U.S. federal government increased significantly in last decades, and there is no serious discussion how to decrease it. More bureaucracy means additional funding to support it. However, this does not bother politicians since bureaucracy is a part of their suite, a measure of their power.

To control natural and technological processes is a responsibility of the overwhelming majority of a society’s members. To control how they perform these operations—that is, control of people (see the external controls), rather than processes—is a responsibility of leaders linked directly to the production unit. The actions of these leaders can be controlled by the administrative unit. Some of them can become later a part of this unit. The fake leaders, who inherited their ←21 | 22→positions or got them by a fraud, usually hire individuals who do their job. Such type of persons become parasites since they are useless for the society. The relations between the administrative and production units depend upon the level of societal development and the dominant ideology.

Although it is impossible not to agree with French philosopher Auguste Comte (1798–1857) assumption that “all societies passed through distinct stages of belief or ideology, evolving from the lower to the higher stages,” on all stages of the societal development personal interests of leaders determined their behavior in according with their well-being criteria. Stendhal was right saying that “… everyone for himself in this desert of selfishness which is called life.”

Organized Religion and Societal Structure

Religion (from the Latin relegere, meaning to repeat, to read again, or, most likely, religionem, to show respect for what is sacred) is an organized system of beliefs and practices associated with a transcendent spiritual experience. There is no culture recorded in human history which has not practiced some form of religion. The sphere of religion, in the ancient world and now, includes the spiritual aspect of the human condition; it provided answers to people’s questions about gods and goddesses (or a single personal god or goddess), the creation of the world, human beings place in the world, what their divine purpose in life is, what they can expect after death, about eternity, and how to escape from suffering in this world or in the next. Every nation has created its own God/gods in its own image and resemblance.

There is no broad consensus regarding the origin of religion. Some form of religion of our earliest ancestors (animal worship, the glorification of animal deities or animal sacrifice, burial rites with grave goods, suggesting a belief in a supernatural afterlife) looked as a superstition and played a role of a medicine to calm the mind and allow it to function better when under stress, served as a powerful survival mechanism, helping people to stay alive in an unfriendly environment.

The history of religion refers to the written record of human religious experiences and ideas. This period of religious history begins with the invention of writing about 5200 years ago (3200 B.C.). The prehistory of religion involves the study of religious beliefs that existed prior to the advent of written records.

The concept of religion, as we presently understand it, was formed in the 16th and 17th centuries, despite the fact that ancient sacred texts like the Bible, the ←22 | 23→Quran and others did not have a word or even a concept of religion in the original languages and neither did the people or the cultures in which these sacred texts were written (see Harrison, 1990).

Typically, religions were divided into stages of progression from simple to complex societies, especially from polytheistic (the worship of many gods) to monotheistic (the worship of one god) and from spontaneous to organized.

Similar to inability of one person to succeed in various fields, the ancient people felt that no single god could possibly take care of all the needs of an individual, so that: if one were suffering heartbreak, one went to the goddess of love; if one wanted to win at combat, only then one would consult the god of war, etc. The many gods of the religions of the ancient world fulfilled multiple functions as specialists in their respective areas.

The birth of the monotheistic religion, an organized and structured system of faith or worship, in its different forms (Judaism, Christianity and Islam are the most influential world religions), increased significantly the influence of religion on the life and development of the world societies.

The Jewish religion was administered by priests, a class of Jewish citizens who were given social, economic, and political power far beyond that of just performing the sacred rites of the people (Abraham is considered the first Jewish priest). They were second in power only to the kings; when the Romans took over the Land of Israel (63 B.C.), it was the priestly class that they were most worried about.

Religious leaders created religious administrative units with its spiritual channel influencing human behavior. Moral purpose is at the very core of the three monotheistic religions Judaism, Christianity and Islam. They created moral benchmarks for believers that guide their footsteps. They teach about good and evil, saints and sinners, and the altruistic values that build lasting cultures and relation based on mutual help and respect—versus the greed, lust, indolence, pride, and violence. The religions also encourage believers to treat others with compassion, love and charity. The Judeo-Christian religious teaching “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you. You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor…” establishes a high-level moral standards for the followers. It provides moral guidelines for marriage and family, how to treat neighbors, how to be a healthy part of a community.

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Starting 600 years after Christianity, Islam contains some features of the behavior cruelty inadmissible in Christianity and Judaism. In suras, the chapters of Quran, the central religious text of Islam, we can find recommendations of Muhammed, the founder of Islam: “the beating of wives” (Sura 4:34), “fight and slay the Pagans wherever you find them” (Sura 9:5); the proper way to execute an unbeliever was to cut his throat (Sura 47:4). Muhammed led raids against caravans to plunder their goods, broke oaths, ordered the murder of those who mocked him and wiped out the last Jewish tribe in Medina—he killed all the men and enslaved the women and children.

Despite recognition of the two older and closely related religions, Judaism and Christianity, which share with Islam the essential characteristics of monotheism and a sacred book, Islam holds that the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament, the first part of Christian Bibles, based primarily upon the Hebrew Bible), the Psalms, and the Gospels were given by God—with this caveat: Jews and Christians have corrupted God’s Word and therefore Bibles cannot be fully trusted. The hostility toward Christianity and Judaism played a significant role in societal development in the related areas.

Organized religion emerged as means of maintaining peace in a society and became an important factor of providing social and economic stability. The so-called Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is a belief that is present in many other religions including Buddhism (a widespread Asian religion founded by Gautama in India in the 5th century B.C. and later spreading to China, Burma, Japan, Tibet, and parts of southeast Asia), Confucianism (the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius), Hinduism (the dominant religion of India), Jainism (an ascetic religion founded in India in the 6th century B.C.), Sikhism (founded 500 years ago in India, it is the fifth-largest religion), Shintoism (the state religion of Japan until 1945, dating from the early 8th century), Taoism (a religious doctrines officially recognized in the People’s Republic of China).

Although societal religions vary throughout the world, one thing all these religions have in common is the ability to bring the members of a society together. Religious leaders created their worship centers, schools, scriptoria, and libraries. They also functioned as agricultural, economic, and production centers. Their teams of missionaries spread their religious believes in different areas. Christianity, born in the Roman Empire, was brought into the Northern Europe. Through European colonialism it spread across much of the world including the American continent. At the end of 19th century, Catholic missionaries followed colonial governments into Africa to build schools, hospitals, monasteries, and churches. ←24 | 25→Islam, born in Mecca, in western Arabia, spread rapidly in Africa and to the North-East (Iran, Turkey, and Pakistan). Buddhism spread to Tibet, central Asia, China, Korea, and Japan.

However, the fight for power among religious leaders and differences in their interpretation of the main religious documents resulted in cruel religious wars.

There are three main branches of Christianity: Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Protestantism. Eastern Orthodoxy arose as a distinct branch of Christianity after the 11th century East-West Schism between Eastern and Western Christendom. The Protestant branch split from Roman Catholicism during the Reformation (1500–1650), a 16th and 17th century series of church reforms in doctrine and practice. These movement challenged the authority of the head of the Roman Catholic Church. The European religious wars were fought in Europe from 1524 to 1648, after the birth of Protestantism. Wars between the Christian religion branches broke out, culminating in the Thirty Years War which ravaged central Europe between 1618 and 1648 (when Roman Emperor Ferdinand II tried to impose Roman Catholicism on a faction of Protestants from his domains).

Formally, the wars were motivated by the conflict and rivalry that developed due to a change in the religious balance. However, they were due to far more than religious differences. Political, economic, and national reasons were behind the wars as well.

The struggle between two Islamic rivals, Shia and Sunni, is similar to the battle between Roman Catholics and Protestants in Europe. Members of these two branches have co-existed for centuries and share many fundamental beliefs and practices. But they differ in doctrine, ritual, law, theology and religious organization. Saudi Arabia and Iran represent the regional strongholds of two rival branches of Islam, and tensions between these countries fighting for the dominant position in the Middle East are the main reason of the escalation of the conflict, especially after the Iranian revolution in 1979.

Strengthening their power religious leaders encouraged the followers and the leaders of the society to persecute the religious minority. Jews have been persecuted for thousands of years by Christians and Muslims. In Constantinople (722) they were forced to convert to Christianity. Jews exiled from Italy in 855. In 1121 Jews were driven out of Flanders (now a part of Belgium); they were neither to return nor to be tolerated until they repented of the guilt of killing Jesus Christ. They have been mercilessly chased out of their homes during the Spanish Inquisition in 1229–1252. In 1290, sixteen thousand Jews were forced to leave England. In 1298, more than hundred thousand were killed in Franconia, Bavaria, and Austria. In 1492, three hundred thousand Jews left Spain penniless refusing to ←25 | 26→be baptized as Christians. They were banished from France (1394), Portugal (1497), Italy (1540), and Holland (1582). Severe restrictions were imposed on Jews in Russia in 19th and the beginning of 20th century. The persecution of Jews reached its most destructive form in the policies of Nazi Germany.

While Jewish communities in Arab and Islamic countries fared better overall than those in Christian lands in Europe, Jews were no strangers to persecution and humiliation among the Arabs and Muslims. At various times, Jews in Muslim lands were able to live in relative peace and thrive culturally and economically. However, the peaceful periods were interrupted by persecutions and destruction. For example, mass murders of Jews in Arab lands occurred: in Morocco in the 8th century, whole Jewish communities were wiped out; in North Africa in the 12th century, several Jewish communities were either forcibly converted or decimated; in Libya in 1785, hundreds of Jews were murdered; in Algiers, Jews were massacred in 1805, 1815 and 1830; in Morocco, more than 300 hundred Jews were murdered between 1864 and 1880 (see Roumani, 1977). Decrees ordering the destruction of synagogues were enacted in Egypt and Syria (1014, 1293–1294, 1301–1302), Iraq (854–859, 1344) and Yemen (1676). Despite the Koran’s prohibition, Jews were forced to convert to Islam or face death in Yemen (1165 and 1678), Morocco (1275, 1465 and 1790–92) and Baghdad (1333 and 1344) (see Bat Ye’or, 1985). The situation of Jews in Arab lands reached a low point in the 19th century. Jews in most of North Africa (including Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Morocco) were forced to live in ghettos. After the creation of the Jewish state Israel, more than a thousand Jews were killed in anti-Jewish rioting during the 1940s in Iraq, Libya, Egypt, Syria and Yemen (see Roumani, 1977).

Some religious persecutions burst into the war between different religions. For example, the Lebanese Civil War (1975–1990) was primarily sparked from conflicts between the Sunni Muslim, Shiite Muslim and Christian Lebanese populations; the Yugoslav wars (1991–1995), consisted of the Croatian War and the Bosnian War, were fought between Christian and Muslim populations of former Yugoslavia; the Buddhist Uprising of 1966 in South Vietnam was the result of the discrimination against the majority Buddhist population by the rule of the Catholic Ngo Dinh Diem; the Sudanese Civil War (1983–2005) war was caused by the Muslim central government choice to impose sharia law on Christian southerners.

The wars between different religions distinguish themselves by demonstrating the worst atrocities imaginable. The Crusades (1095–1291) were a series of wars between Muslims and Christians sanctioned by the Catholic Church. The aim of crusaders was to expel Islam and spread Christianity. According to the ←26 | 27→Encyclopedia of Wars, out of all 1,763 known/recorded historical conflicts, 123, or 6.98 percent, had religion as their primary cause.

As indicated earlier, in many cases, the reasons of wars were not only religious. Economic factors, which were under control of the administrative unit, drove much of the conflicts. This fact shows that despite frictions between the leaders of the administrative and religious units, usually they worked together. Organized religion presented an independent source of power. On the one hand, societal leaders needed a help of religious leaders who controlled the souls of a society’s members. On the other hand, the religious units depended on the administrative units that had a military power and controlled the societal land and economy. The religious leaders supported the societal leaders and, in turn, the societal leaders chose religion that would help them govern. “Paris is well worth a Mass,” said Henry of Navarre, who became France’s king Henri IV at the cost of converting to Catholicism. This famous phrase shows that the political decisions of leaders is determined by their well-being criteria. Napoleon Bonaparte supported the anti-clericalism of the French revolution (the Catholic church’s lands were confiscated) which brought him to power. His 1793 phrase about politics “It is better to eat than be eaten.” is as eloquently cynical as the phrase of Henri IV.

Religion effects different societies in different ways and influences their development. It can be a driving force in society and a reactionary one. Marx argued that religion is “the opium of the people.” Lenin claimed that religions act as a “spiritual gin in which people can drown their human shape and their claims to any decent life.” Both of them claimed that religion justified the social order and was used by the ruling class to justify their position.

For them religion was a platform for social change. Of course, religious persecutions and wars hampered social development. But the so-called Marxists, pursuing their goals, did not see and did want to see the main and most important features of religion—its stabilizing function inside society, a part of the law and order components required for the normal functioning of society.

We defined social system as an active system where each component acts to optimize its own well-being criterion. This can be done by certain activities—control actions. For most people it means a useful labor. But this is only one class of possible controls. Another class includes such actions as killing, assault, murder, robbery, fraud, deception, theft, and other evil actions. The basic religious principles are the source of morality. They appeal to decency and civility. However, the real enforcement power is in the hands of the administrative units that can make inadmissible certain forms of human behavior. The efficiency of such power depends on the structure of the societal administrative units and ←27 | 28→the dominant ideology. A detailed analysis of these structures is considered in Chapters 4 and 5.


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Aristotle. (2011). Art of Rhetoric. Translated by Bartlett, R. London: The University of Chicago.

Bat Ye’or. (1985). The Dhimmi. Cranbury, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press.

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Giddens, A. (2001). Sociology. Fourth Edition. London: Polity Press.

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Ritzer, G. and Murphy, W. (2019). Introduction to Sociology. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publishing, Inc.

Roumani, M. (1977). The Case of the Jews from Arab Countries: A Neglected Issue. Tel Aviv: World Organization of Jews from Arab Countries.

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Wiener, N. (1948). Cybernetics: Or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Yanushevsky, R. (2011). Guidance of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. New York, London: Taylor & Francis, CBC Press.

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Lessons of History

“Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.”

—Winston Churchill


Sociology is a conglomerate of various disciplines related to human behavior. If the development of a theory of a process or phenomena belonging to non-live nature is based on extensive experiments, the testing of humans are limited by the necessity to guarantee their safety. As to the societal research, the only source of information is the existing historic materials which bear a subjective imprint—their authors’ attitude toward the described events. To present properly the historic material within the chosen time frame and use it for building a societal dynamic model, it is of importance to choose such characteristics, factors, or properties that generate societal changes. Usually, such an approach is utilized for classification of societies, determining their types based on certain characteristics.

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Below we will use the classification based on economic factors (technological advances) indicated in Chapter 1 and widely used by sociologists and anthropologists. Economic factors, such as the mode of production (the way of producing goods and services: the forces of production and the relations of production) and the means of production, are used by Marx (1999). Marx distinguishes five principal types of societies: primitive, Asiatic, ancient, feudal and capitalist. Unfortunately, Marx made the main accent on political aspects of the production process (who controls the means of production) rather than economy. This explains blunders of his theory, which we will discuss in Chapter 3, as well as the controversial choice of the Asiatic type of societies (he meant specifics of Indian society in the late 18th and early 19th centuries) which was widely criticized.

Auguste Comte, known as the father of sociology, based his classification of societies on intellectual development. He assumed that all societies passed through distinct stages of belief or ideology, evolving from the lower to the highest stages, namely: military society, legal society, industrial society. However, he considered beliefs as the economic stage-dependent.

There exists a broad classification on open and closed societies. A closed society is the one that is closed to the normal processes of change and its conception of morality contains no concern for outsiders. The societies under authoritarian and inhumane regimes are examples of closed societies. An open society allows its members considerable freedom (as in democracy).

It is impossible to create the classification that would cover all specific features of human societies. Each human group brings its own specifics in terms of its own culture and history in the social and political structure. The goal of a sociologist is not that of simply identifying societies but in finding out the general features in their development, establishing, analyzing, and explaining the phases of this development, determining factors that enable one to judge whether a particular kind of society has the potential to nurture, defend and survive and what changes can bring societal progress.

The problem of explaining social change was central in the societal theories of 19th century that can be divided into theories of social evolution (Saint-Simon (1760–1825); Auguste Comte; Herbert Spencer (1820–1903); Emile Durkheim (1858–1917)) and theories of social revolution (Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels (1820–1895)). The evolutionary theory and cyclical theory were developed by assuming similarity of societal evolution with biological evolution. Charles Darwin, who created the theory of biological evolution, showed that species of organisms have evolved from simpler organisms to the more complicated organisms ←30 | 31→through the processes of variations and natural selection. Society began to be viewed as undergoing the same changes and demonstrating the same trends, and evolution was considered as a process of differentiation and integration (see Spencer, 1887). It was conceived that societies were subject to the same general laws of biological and organism growth. They pass through same stages of development, and the changes are inevitable; they are gradual, continuous, progressive, and natural. Marx and Engels also supported the evolutionary approach to social development, from savagery through barbarism to civilization emphasizing that each stage contained within itself “the seeds of its own destruction,” and would inevitably be succeeded by the next, higher on the scale of evolution, stage (see Marx, 1999).

The social development theories with the above indicated assumptions that each society must pass through fixed and limited numbers of stages in a given sequence dominated the sociological scene and supported by anthropologists and sociologists of 19th century. Later the requirement to go through the same fixed stages of development was rejected by some sociologists (see, e.g., Steward, 1969).

Cyclical theory presents a variation of evolution theory; the phases of social societies are considered differently. Its authors argued that societies change according to cycles of rise, decline and fall just as individual persons are born, mature, grow old, and die. According to Spengler (1962), every society has a predetermined life cycle—birth, growth, maturity, and decline. After passing through all these stages of life cycle, society returns to the original stage and thus the cycle begins again.

Despite criticism of the above discussed theories (see, e.g., Giddens, 2001) over the lack of persuasive arguments concerning the driving forces of changes and the assertion that growth may create social problems rather than social progress, their analogy with the biological evolutional theory deserves additional serious consideration. Moreover, the recent advances in biology should be also used for building a rigorous macrosociological theory.

It is well known that the immune system of a human multicellular organism protects it from diseases. The system tries to recognize alien cells, marks invaders, raise the alarm and later destroy them by other cells. Normally, human cells grow and divide to form new cells as the body needs them. When cells grow old or become damaged, they die, and new cells take their place. The immune system normally removes damaged or abnormal cells from the body. Is not the described above mechanism similar to actions of the administrative unit to keep societies safe?

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Functionalism, as a new approach to the study of society developed at the beginning of 20th century, focuses mostly on the structure of society assuming that it, like the human body, is a balanced system of institutions which contribute to the maintenance of society as a whole. When events outside or inside the society disrupt the equilibrium, social institutions make adjustments to restore stability. If an institution no longer serves a role, it will die away. When new needs evolve or emerge, new institutions will be created to meet them.

The so-called conflict theorists, who opposed structural-functionalism since it cannot explain change, do not believe that societies smoothly evolve to higher level. For them social change is the result of a struggle between conflicting groups (Coser, 1964). Their statement that conflict is a necessary condition for change is obvious. However, it is not a sufficient condition to build theory of societal change.

The Marx theory rests on the assumption that society consists of two structures: the infrastructure (the forces of production and relations of production) and the superstructure (legal, ideological, political and religious institutions) which serves to maintain the infrastructure. According to Marx, changes in the economic infrastructure of society are the prime movers of social change. For Marx, production system is the lever of all social changes.

In contrast to Marx, Pareto (1935), world known for his contribution to the theory of multicriteria optimization, states in his theory of Circulation of Elites that major social changes in society occur not when rulers are overthrown from below, but when one elite replaces another. The ordinary people are followers and supporters of one elite or another rather than initiators or the main driving force of the changes.

The Marx production system corresponds, to some extent, to the used in the book production unit, and the Pareto elites belong mostly to the administrative unit. It is impossible to deny that the level of production of goods and services, the state of economy, is a decisive factor affecting social change. However, there are other factors that should not be neglected. A separate analysis of the production or administrative unit dynamics cannot explain social changes. Only the consideration of the interaction between elements of these units is a proper approach to build theory of social change.

Classification reflects special features that distinguish societies. That is why there exist various types of classification. The sections of this chapter are built according to the classification which reflects societal changes linked to the economic development, and the considered historical examples can be used later to as a proof of the validity of the presented statements.

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Hunting and Gathering Society

Hunting and Gathering society is the oldest and the simplest type of society. Roughly around 10000 B.C. all societies relied heavily on hunting wild animals and gathering food for survival. The bulk of this evidence is archaeological in nature and it is supplemented by anthropological data. In these societies most decisions were made based upon group discussions. Often the communities concentrated on specific animals and tried to maintain a year food supply. There existed no difference between a leader and followers. There was a gender-based division of labor but without any gender inequality as such. Most people did much the same things most of the time. Hence they shared common life experiences and values. Most of these groups were based on kinship, with most of their members being related by ancestry or marriage. The entire society was organized around kinship ties. Since hunting and gathering societies have a limited degree of specialization of labor, their members had a greater degree of similarity of experience and, as a result, a greater level of consensus and community participation in all aspects of their life. Such societies had a small and sparse population, a nomadic way of life (they have to leave one area as soon as they have exhausted its food resources), and a very primitive tools such as stone axes, spears and knives. Production was communal and cooperative; the distribution system was based on sharing. Sharing was a norm in such societies and ownership was communal. Warfare was unknown to them, partly because they had virtually no property. Religion was not developed among these people into a complex institution. Their religion did not include a belief in a god or gods. They tended to see the world as populated by unseen spirits that should be taken into account but not necessarily worshipped.

Even today there are still a handful of isolated peoples who still continue this style of life: Aranda of the Central Australian desert; the San people of Kalahari Desert in Southern Africa; Itibamute Eskimos; Bushmen of Southwestern Africa.

The structure of this simplest type of society can be presented by the single production unit with all activity of its members focused to survive.

Pastoral Societies

When small hunter and gathering societies learned the more complex mechanism of sowing seeds, growing plants and breading animals, they became able to domesticate and breed herds of them. As a result, these societies entered a ←33 | 34→new phase—the pastoral phase. This phase involved cultivation on a small scale, usually gardens, for immediate limited subsistence level of consumption. Pastoral societies dealt with the domestication of large animals to provide food. They emerged in mountainous regions and areas with low amounts of annual rainfall.

In comparison with the hunting and gathering societies, pastoral societies are larger in size and may have hundreds or even thousands of members due to use of the flocks and herds of domesticated animals for subsistence needs. In practice, if needed, hunting and gathering and even horticulture were used as additional means of survival. Such a strategy was more productive than hunting and gathering because it provided a permanent food supply and enabled the accumulation of surplus resources. Since herds can be owned, ideas about private property and inheritance of wealth are likely to emerge. Individuals with larger accumulated resources became more powerful and passed on their status to their descendants. This produced social inequality. Patterns of leadership began to appear as powerful and wealthy families secured better social positions.

Similarly to hunter-gatherers, pastoral people were nomadic because of their seasonal need to find sufficient grazing areas and water sources for their herds. However, the tasks of growing plants and raising animals obviously required a reasonable amount of settled life. Pastoral societies were larger than hunting and gathering societies but still relatively small. The little division of labor, as in hunting and gathering societies, was based on age and sex. The used tools were very simple such as hoes and plows that were more often pushed by a person.

Their nomadic way of life often established contacts between pastoral societies. This helped them to develop trading. Their main objects of trading were goats, sheep, tents, woven carpets, simple utensils etc. Pastoral societies gave more importance to their temporary territories than hunting and gathering societies did. Disputes over grazing rights with other pastoral societies sometimes resulted in warfare. Captives in war were put to work for their conquerors. This gave the birth to slavery, the feature unknown in hunting and gathering societies. Patriarchal forms of social organization were likely to became popular, especially among those who had and used horses for transportation and warfare.

According to Lenski (1970), pastoral people tend to develop their own religious beliefs. “They commonly believe in a god or gods, who take an active interest in human affairs and look after the people who worship them. Judaism, Christianity and Islam—originated among pastoral peoples.” In pastoral societies with larger populations political and economic institutions began to appear, and both social structure and culture became more complex.

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Horticultural Societies

The hunter and gathering societies way of life was universal until around of 8000 B.C. when farming began to develop in some regions. Gradually, farming became dominant means of getting food, and in certain areas hunter-gatherers were pushed into the regions where farming was impossible. The development and use of domestic plants and animals, often called Neolithic Revolution, marked the beginning of the new way of life, as people settled down in permanent villages that is considered as the first step toward civilization. Neolithic period is the final stage of cultural evolution or technological development among prehistoric humans.

Horticultural society is associated with the elementary discovery that plants can be grown from seeds. While pastoral is common in areas with poor soil, horticultural is more common as means of subsistence in regions with fertile soil. Horticultural societies main activity was food production based on the cultivation of plants. These societies emerged in more fertile areas that were better suited for growing plants through the use of hand tools. Horticultural societies first appeared at about the same time as pastoral societies. A horticultural society is a social system based on horticulture, a mode of production in which digging sticks are used to cultivate small gardens. Horticultural societies developed around 7000 B.C. in the Middle East and gradually spread west through Europe and Africa and east through Asia, then in America. They were the first type of society in which people grew their own food and in which settlements were permanent.

Horticulturists specialized in the cultivation of fruits, vegetables, and plants such as wheat, rice, etc. in order to survive. More advanced horticultural societies have metal tools and weapons. However, there was no assistance from animal or mechanical powered tools. The subsistence strategy of horticulturists was “slash and burn” technology. They burned trees and cleared areas of land for planting, raised crops for two or three years until the soil became exhausted and then repeated the process. In some cases, people combined horticulture with hunting or fishing, or with the keeping of a few domesticated farm animals. However, often they were forced to relocate when the resources of the land were depleted or when the water supplies decreased. Unlike pastoralists, horticulturists had larger population and stayed in one place longer before they migrated in search of better conditions.

Horticulturists assured better food surplus. The surplus permitted storage as well as job specialization and the emergence of other professions not related to the ←35 | 36→survival of the society. Some their members produced tools or clothing. Division of labor and surplus resources produced social inequality, created a more complex division of labor, and opportunities for successful trade between horticultural societies.

The family was the basic unit in horticultural societies. Because they typically did not move as often as hunter-gatherers or pastorals, horticulturalists established more permanent family ties. In horticultural societies ties focused on kinship were common, and the social ties were organized around the feminized work of crop cultivation. Because women were at the center of work and survival in horticultural societies, they were highly valuable to men. For this reason, polygyny (when a husband has multiple wives) was common.

Some social analysts believe that the invention of a hoe with a metal blade was a contributing factor to the less nomadic lifestyle of horticulturalists. Unlike the digging stick, usage of the metal-blade hoe made planting more efficient and productive. By using a hoe horticulturists were able to cultivate the soil more deeply and crops could be grown in the same area for longer periods. As a result, people remained for longer periods in the same location.

It was common in horticultural societies that men took on political or militaristic roles. Politics in horticultural societies was often centered on the redistribution of food and resources within the community. Warfare became more common in horticultural societies that also were the first known societies to support the institution of slavery. Horticultural and pastoral societies were less egalitarian than hunter and gathering societies.

There existed an impressive range of variation within horticultural societies. The structure of a simpler horticultural society had a modest difference compared to hunter and gatherer societies. The formation of the administrative unit was seen in the more complex societies including up to a few tens thousands people. Similar to headmen in the simpler societies, the so-called bigmen were leaders of kin groups including about a few hundred people. Such persons were responsible for the coordination of redistribution food and other necessities between kin groups. However, their formal powers were usually weak. The senior leader, the chief, was usually a male who won free competition for popular support. Such person was often the senior male of the purportedly senior lineage (the man who can trace his ancestry back to a founding male through eldest sons). Typically the chief should possess qualities to make his will felt and people would obey his will. During wars his obligations were to call out warriors and lead them into battle. The chief was usually also endowed with supernatural respect, as a chief priest of a local cult. Nevertheless, the power of the administrative unit still was ←36 | 37→not strong enough, and the bigmen and chiefs acted as mediators, mobilizers of public opinion, and occasionally co-enforcers of customary rules. They usually used their prestige to ensure in-group peace rather than force.

Similar to pastoral societies, horticulture societies believed in a god or gods. They had also some rare practices such as cannibalism, headhunting, and human sacrifice. Cannibalism, eating enemies’ skin, was an act of ritual revenge. Headhunting was taken as evidence of courage and skill of warrior. The acts of human sacrifice (the act of killing one or more humans), as part of a ritual to please or appease gods, coincide with a change in the nature of horticultural societies. Some scientists believe that human sacrifice helped stabilize and maintain social inequality.

Examples of still existing horticultural societies: Gururumba tribe in New Guinea; Masai people of Kenya.

Agricultural Societies

For pastoral and horticulture societies agriculture was the main source of survival. During the period of 5000–3000 B.C. agriculture was transformed from a subsistence activity into in an industry. With the invention of the plough the agrarian revolution marked its beginning. Usage of this tool increased the productivity of labor. Combining irrigation techniques with the use of ploughs increased production and ability to renew soil. Size of the agricultural societies was significantly greater than that of pastoral and horticultural communities. They produced relatively greater wealth than pastoral and horticulture societies which was unequally shared. Two distinct social classes—those who owned the land and those who worked on the land of others—appeared. Surplus food supplies made it possible for some members of the society to devote time to non-agricultural activities: as artisans, traders, soldiers, priests, rulers, etc. These societies were able to support people providing creative ideas to the culture which became more diversified. Poets, writers and artists were encouraged to continue their work.

There was also sufficient production to support a ruling class as well as a range of specialized occupations including administrations, soldiering and scholars. The expansion of trade was accompanied by the development of money system used as a medium of exchange instead of the used earlier barter system (exchange of services and goods for other services and goods). The individuals engaged in non-agricultural activities tended to concentrate in some compact places which ultimately led to the birth of the cities.

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Thus agricultural societies were organizationally more complex than horticultural societies. Their administrative and production units contained definite subdivisions with strictly defined functions.

The period of around 4000–2500 B.C. was characterized by the emergence of the first cities symbolizing the beginning of urban civilization. In the Republic, Plato (2019) asserts that the city-state (a city and the area around it with an independent government) have come into being because of the mutual needs and the resulting interdependence of individuals. Out of this interdependence arose the division of labor, the specialization of individuals in different occupations in accordance with their natural gifts and the mutual exchange of their products for those of others out of self-interest. Specialization of labor and social stratification in the agricultural society created the need of a justice system; as a result, the court system emerged.

Only a small proportion of the population, seldom more than 10 percent of the total, lived in cities. The cities performed the general functions of coordination and control and were the centers of political administration, craft manufactures, and commercial trade. Urban society consisted of a diversity of groups, which were often strictly separated from each other and from the rural peasantries by hereditary distinctions.

Certain individuals emerged as leaders because of their ability to organize their community for its advantage. They promoted trade for both essential and luxury goods, such as metals, and brought about the construction of main religious monuments.

Religion played an important role in most societies. As agricultural societies became more and more complex, religion required full-time officials such as priests. As communities grew in size, the power of the priests increased and the scope of their role as the leaders and organizers of society broadened. With the growth of complexity of the societies religious practices and structures (monumental edifices to glorify their gods, monuments, pyramids, etc.) emerged. In the pre-urban societies priests not only mediated between people and the gods but also acted as their representatives on earth, organizing and directing the activities of villagers. This placed priests in a powerful position as guardians of a community’s welfare and the source of aid in hard times.

Conflicts were common between city-states and between competing groups within states, as well as with outsiders. Most cities were fortified. The cities were increasingly governed by kings, originally war leaders in the power struggles between city-states. Some kings created great empires.

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The earliest civilizations (the word civilization comes from the Latin term for city) began by about 3500 B.C. in a part of Western Asia long called Mesopotamia and spread to other parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa. Mesopotamian city-states were ruled by kings who claimed divine authority and were originally war leaders. The government helped regulate religion. It also provided a system of courts for justice. The legal system regulated property rights and duties for family members establishing punishments for crimes. By about 3000 B.C. Egyptian civilization governed by pharaohs emerged. The Chinese civilization started by about 2000 B.C. The mentioned societies demonstrated significant progress in culture, science, and technology.

Variations in the structure of the administrative units can be seen on the example of Ancient Greece (700–480 B.C.) that was not a country united under a single government. It consisted of a number of city-states; each city-state ruled the lands and area around it. Some city-states had the most spread form of government-monarchies ruled by kings. Others were oligarchies ruled by a few powerful men on councils. The city of Athens invented the different form of government; for many years it was ruled by the people.

The two most powerful and famous city-states Athens and Sparta had different administrative structure. Sparta, notorious for their lack of conventional humanity, was ruled by two hereditary kings from two separate families who had equal power. However, the power was not absolute. They shared it with a council of five men called the ephors, a council of elders, and an assembly of all the citizen. Laws were made by a council of 28 elders, who held the position for life, and the two kings. The assembly met once a month and was open to all citizens who voted by the simple method of shouting. Politically Sparta was ruled by the aristocratic families who controlled most Greek city-states. Spartan men trained to become warriors from the day they were born. At the age of seven the sons of all Spartan citizens left home to enter a state education system in which the emphasis was on courage and discipline. Girls in Sparta were educated in the same austere virtues, training them to be good wives and mothers. Unlike the boys, they were allowed to live at home. Spartan citizens were forbidden by law to engage in any money-making activity. Instead each was provided by the state with a lifetime interest in a plot of land which was farmed for him by the state’s slaves—helots. The slaves did all the manual work of the community, enabling the citizens, an exclusively military caste, to concentrate on warfare and politics. The Spartans had the strongest army and the best soldiers of any city-state in Ancient Greece.

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Similar to most of city-states Athens was under the rule of one king and wealthy aristocrats, who held control of both the land and the government till 507 B.C. The process of modification of the earlier administrative structure enabled Athens to make 460–320 B.C. the most important period of the golden age of civilization (it is called the Classical Age due to many Greek inventions that are still used today) and to become the birth place of democracy and the heart of the Greek civilization.

There were three main bodies of the government: the assembly, the council of 500, and the courts. The assembly included all citizens who showed up to vote. However, only men who had completed their military training were counted as citizens. The assembly decided on new laws and important decisions, like whether or not to go to war. The council oversaw much of the day-to-day running of the government. The council members served for one year. The courts handled lawsuits and trials. The courts had large juries to help make decisions. For private lawsuits the jury was at least 201 people, for public lawsuits the jury was at least 501 people. Most of government officials were chosen by a lottery. So every citizen had a chance, regardless of their popularity or wealth, to become an official. A few key positions were voted on, such as the treasurer and the 10 generals who ran the army.

Despite the democratic character of the administrative unit, slavery was a common practice in Athens, as in other societies of this period, although in Athens the lives of slaves were somewhat better. The primary use of slavery was in agriculture; some small landowners might own one or two slaves.

The fact that Athens replaced kings with democratic government did not change its imperial nature, the policy of extending the power especially by direct territorial acquisitions or by gaining indirect control over the political or economic life of other areas.

Examples of large empires in the ancient world include Sumeria (2900–2000 B.C.), Babylonia (1792–911 B.C., both in the Mesopotamia region), Assyria (1400–627 B.C, the ancient Near East), Hittites (1700–700 B.C., in modern day Turkey and Syria), the Egyptian (1991–1069 B.C.), the Persian (550–331 B.C., stretched from India to Europe), the Macedonian (359–300 B.C., stretched from the Adriatic Sea to the Indus River), and, most famously, the Roman (formally Rome was a republic during 509–27 B.C., but this did not change its imperial domination over the entire Mediterranean area).

In the Roman Republic two consuls, primarily generals, had an extensive range of executive, legislative, judicial, military, and religious powers. They held military power, led the army, served as judges, and represented Rome in foreign ←40 | 41→affairs. Each consul could veto the other, and the office of consul lasted for only one year. In times of war a single dictator could be appointed for six months. At the end of their year in office, the ex-consuls became senators for life unless ousted by the censors. Senate was the advisory branch of the Roman government, composed of about 300 citizens who served for life. They were chosen by the consuls, and by the end of the 4th century, by the censors. At first, senators were only patricians (aristocrats) but in time some plebeians (lower class people, excluding slaves) joined their ranks. There were two different popular assemblies representing the democratic branch of government. The centuriate assembly, which was composed of all members of the army, elected consuls annually. The tribal assembly, composed of all citizens, approved or rejected laws and decided issues of war and peace. In 451 b.c. the first law was introduced with provisions related to debt foreclosure, paternal authority over children, property rights, inheritance, and funerary regulations. Despite its more progressive administrative structure the Roman Republic was not real democracy since the top government positions were in hands of aristocracy.

The fall of the western Roman Empire brought a certain relief to European farmers who made up 80 percent or more of the total population, a release from the pressure of the Roman imperial market, army and taxation. Europe was quite isolated from the rest of the world, and was divided into many small states. Europeans were ignorant of the rest of the world. The most powerful and wealthy group of people in Europe were called the aristocracy or the nobility. There were a few hundred families who owned most of the land in Europe. They lived in big castles and had hundreds of people working for them and living on their land. Most members of the aristocracy did not work for a living. Epidemics and global cooling lasted more than hundred years caused a large decline in the European population in the 6th century. A shortage of labor may have facilitated greater freedom among rural people who were either slaves or had been bound to the land under Roman laws. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire that marked the beginning of the Middle Ages (or medieval period from the 5th to the 15th century) agriculture in Europe became more focused on self-sufficiency. The agricultural population under feudalism (the dominant social system in medieval Europe) was typically organized into manors consisting of several hundred or more acres of land presided over by a lord of the manor. Some manors were under the authority of bishops or abbots of the Catholic church. Upper clergy consisting of the cardinals, archbishops, bishops, abbots, etc. presented a privileged class competing for power and influence with nobles. Some lords owned more than one manor, and the church controlled large areas. Most of the people living on ←41 | 42→the manor were peasant farmers or serfs who grew crops for themselves and either labored for the lord and church or paid rent for their land. Slavery, important for the agricultural labor force of the Roman Empire, died out in Western Europe by 1100. Similarly, the serf was tied to the land and could not leave his servitude, but his tenure on the land was secure. If the manor changed owners the serfs remained on the land. Serfs had limited rights to property and their freedom of movement was limited.

The most important technical innovation for agriculture at the beginning of Common Era was the widespread adoption around 1000 of the moldboard plow and its close relative, the heavy plow. These two plows enabled farmers to exploit the fertile but heavy clay soils of Northern Europe. The moldboard and heavy plows facilitated the control of weeds and increased soil fertility. Two additional advances coming into general use in Europe around 1000 were the horse collar and the horseshoe. The horse collar increased the pulling capacity of a horse. The horseshoe protected a horse’s hooves. These advances resulted in the horse becoming an alternative to slow-moving oxen as a draft animal and for transportation.

These technological innovations resulted in the additional agricultural production and, as a consequence, a large increase in population growth. Because farming is the basis for the agricultural society, the land is its greatest value. Those who owned land hold more power than those who did not. The dominant social system of Europe between the ninth and fifteenth centuries reflects the changes in the social structure after the fall of Roman Empire; in the early Roman Republic slaves were the main labor force in agriculture and the land was not a property of one person. In the so-called feudal society, a king owned all the land. The king allowed less powerful nobles to own and work portions of the land in exchange for a pledge of military support in the form of knights, soldiers, and goods. The nobles acted as local governors; they collected taxes and tribute, maintained judicial authority, and organized local military units. The land was then further divided by these lords among vassals with their own obligations (usually under the legal jurisdiction) to the lord. Peasants (farmers or serfs) were allowed to work the land in exchange for protection and a small share of the resources they helped gather.

In China, during the Song Dynasty (960–1279), the land law was even more favorable for peasants and farmers. Any farmer who planted on fallow land and paid taxes could own the land, and this encouraged peasants to become landowners. Although agriculture came later to China than it did in the modern-day Middle East, around 1200 the empire had the most advanced agriculture. Chinese applied improved techniques of rice cultivation. Rice became the major food ←42 | 43→crop, and their increased output enabled the population to explode. At the time it was one of the most powerful empire economically, scientifically, and militarily.

In Japan, the feudal system was well ordered before the 10th century, and it persisted with modifications until the 19th century. The code of honor and conduct of the Japanese nobility, borrowed heavily from Buddhism and Confucianism, emphasized loyalty to one’s superior, personal honor, the virtues of austerity, and self-sacrifice.

The Mongol Empire (1206–1368), stretched from Central Europe to the Sea of Japan, extending northwards into Siberia, eastwards and southwards into the Indian subcontinent, Indochina, and the Iranian plateau, and westwards as far as the Levant and Arabia, influenced significantly the development of the societies inhabiting these areas. Originating in the steppes of Central Asia, this nomadic pastoral society, that produced little of its own, created one of the largest contiguous land-based empires based on the strong centralized ruthless leadership and the military advantage (specialized horses, bows and arrows, and swords).

Despite destruction of many people the Mongol conquest led to peace between the nations under Mongol rule, the reopening trade routes between China and Europe and the unification of Russia. The Mongols also introduced guns, gunpowder, a writing system and the importance of literacy. During their invasion Mongols also introduced guns and gunpowder to Europe that led European to develop firearms technology, build separate armies and their own empires with the authoritarian power structure.

The Portuguese Empire existed for almost 600 years from the capture of Ceuta, a city on the north coast of Africa in 1415. The Spanish Empire, started in 1492, was one of the largest empires in history. It reached the peak of its military, political and economic power through most of the 16th and 17th centuries. The 16th century saw the Portuguese and the Spaniards established important and profitable empires in India, Africa and America. The French colonial empire constituted the overseas colonies, protectorates and mandate territories that came under French rule from the 16th century onward. The British Empire originated with the overseas possessions and trading posts established by England between the late 16th and early 18th centuries.

The administrative pyramidal unit of the abovementioned European empires included the monarch (at the top), the king’s council (which played an executive role and acted as the governmental administrative center dealing with all matters pertaining to government and royal administration—economy, defense, foreign policy and law and order—but playing only a consulting role), parliament as the legislative branch, and a system of courts as the judiciary branch. The mentioned ←43 | 44→branches (different countries gave their names to the related institutions) acted on the national level. The similar structure was on the local level as well.

If Christianity was the dominant religion of the abovementioned European empires, Sunni Islam was the dominant religion of the Ottoman Empire that emerged in Anatolia (Asia Minor, in modern Turkey) during the 13th and 14th centuries and controlled most of Southeast Europe and parts of Eastern and Central Europe, much of the Middle East and North Africa during the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries. The Ottoman Empire reached its greatest extent in 1590, when the empire comprised central Hungary, the Balkan Peninsula, Anatolia, Mesopotamia, Syria and Palestine, western Arabia, Egypt, and lands in the Caucasus and western Iran. In Europe, Transylvania, Walachia, Moldavia, and the Crimea were tributary principalities, while in North Africa Tripoli, Tunis, and Algiers were semiautonomous provinces.

The Safavid Empire (1501–1736), another long-life empire, had Shia Islam the official state religion and covered all of Iran and parts of Turkey and Georgia. The society of both empires was that of a hierarchy, with the Shah/Sultan at the top of the hierarchical pyramid. Several high military officials were on the council that issued decrees in the shah’s/sultan’s name; usually, the high-ranking military governed in provinces. The common people, merchants, peasants and slaves were at the base of the pyramid, and the aristocrats in between. The Safavid Empire was a theocracy. Religious and political power were completely intertwined and encapsulated in the person of the Shah. All other religions, and forms of Islam were suppressed.

Although Islam was the dominant religion in the Ottoman Empire, the government practiced a system of religious pluralism known as the Millet system, wherein each particular religious group (Christians, Jews, etc.) was allowed both freedom of religious practice and a significant amount of autonomy, particularly within the court system and regarding taxation. People of other faiths were allowed to use their own courts to settle disputes according to their own beliefs. The aristocracy, in the middle of the hierarchical pyramid, were the religious officials. Sons of nobles were considered for the succession of their fathers as a mark of respect; but they had to prove themselves worthy of the position. Usually, the heads of important institutions within the empire were almost always royal appointees. Non-Muslims had more chances to succeed in the Ottoman Empire.

The abovementioned empires had similar hierarchic structure of their administrative units. The status of serfs in the European empires were not significantly better than slaves in the Islamic empires. Aristocracy, high ranking military and religious officials were pillars of agricultural societies.

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The growth of the Ottoman Empire cut off trading possibilities with the East. Europeans were forced to discover new trading routes. An era of discovery began (this period is called the Age of Discovery). The discoveries of Columbus (his travel to the Americas in 1492) and Vasco da Gamas (who led the expeditions to India and Africa in 1498) strengthened the economy and power of European nations.

With the rise of trade a class of merchants started emerging. Many merchants began to spend money on different things, such as painting, learning, and new banking techniques. Science and culture were on rise and stimulated by success in technological development related to the agricultural and military areas. The European Renaissance began to take place in the 15th and 16th centuries. During that time there was a rebirth of learning, and new developments took place in many areas of everyday life. The invention of printing in Europe and the rise of literature were a part of these changes. New schools and colleges became more and more common. During the Renaissance, universities were asked questions about the established knowledge and scientists tried to find answers about the world. Some of their ideas led to important changes in science, art, language, and education. The Islamic empires also produced an artistic and cultural renaissance within Islam. Muslims preserved and translated ancient classical texts that inspired Renaissance thinkers, succeeded in developing modern university system, brought in Europe agricultural irrigation.

Scientific and technological progress became a decisive factor of the regional economic growth. The development of machines and then factories replaced the plow and other agricultural equipment as the primary mode of production. The first newspapers contributed significantly to the spread of literacy. The first newspaper in England was printed in 1665. The first French newspaper Gazette (afterwards called the Gazette de France) started in 1615 under the patronage and with the active cooperation of Cardinal Richelieu. In Germany, the first daily newspaper was published in 1650. These were the moving forces transforming agricultural societies.

Industrial Societies

Industrial societies came into existence about 1760 as a result of the Industrial Revolution. England became the first industrial society, a system in which large number of labor and machinery is involved in production of goods and services and which is characterized by its manufacturing base that employed more than ←45 | 46→fifty percent of the society’s workforce. The Industrial Revolution quickly spread to the rest of the world. Close behind England were Holland and Germany. The United States lagged behind at first because of the plantation system with its labor-intensive agricultural work. However, once the U.S. started industrialization in 1793, it was able to do so faster than European countries. Large scale production of goods and use of new technology in the system of production became the most important feature of the industrial society.

In the agricultural society most workers had their own raw materials and owned their own tools. A worker lived a life of simplicity controlled by traditional community behavior patterns. His children saw his father working on the product, helped him and gradually learnt the job the father was doing. As if their future status was inherited just like monarchs or nobles; only the inheritance took place at a low social level. With the beginning of the Industrial Revolution an entrepreneur, a capitalist possessing a certain knowledge and managerial skills, who was ready to risk with his money, became a new element of the society. He analyzed the market needs and established a factory, bought the raw materials, and took workers from under their own roofs to produce things in his factory. In this process the worker came to be separated from the means of production. He now owned neither the raw material, nor the tools, nor the building, nor the product. He was now a labor. Later large plants were set up and corporations emerged. Factory production, fixed capital and free labor were the characteristics of this revolution. As a result of this economic revolution, several important changes occurred in the social structure, and the new type of society, called industrial society, was born.

If in agricultural societies products and resources were all made by craftsmen who would create each item by hand or by farmers who would have to plant and harvest using only manual labor, manufacturing used the power of such external energy sources as water or steam to create new tools and machinery, driven by these sources, that increased the speed of production. This created a lot of new jobs to operate the machinery and use properly the tools, first in the textile industry (such as boot mills and shirt factories) and eventually spreading into other areas. The invention of the steam engine brought about new types of transportation, including trains and steamships. Because most factories were located in urban areas, the new jobs created by the industrialization of manufacturing drove up the population of cities and raised the standard of living by providing employment opportunities to lower social classes who had previously lacked the skills necessary to obtain such employment. In the industry-based economy a number of professional and technical jobs requiring special knowledge and ←46 | 47→training emerged. Means of transportation were improved and a wider network of communications were developed to better facilitate the transfer of products from place to place.

Industrialization made urbanization desirable so that workers could be closer to centers of production. In turn, this created the service industry providing services in various areas (such as retail, transport, distribution, food, etc.) and offering jobs in this field. This led to the rise of very large cities and surrounding suburban areas with a high rate of economic activity.

Industrialization brought changes in almost every aspect of society. These changes were the result of transformation of the production unit that became more complex and dynamic, consisting of many sub-units with different economic orientation. The agricultural society was a homogeneous society where people were engaged in the same economic pursuit. There was not much division of labor. There was no multiplicity of economic and social groups. Division of labor in the industrial society created various groups with different interests linked directly to their job responsibilities.

The family as a uniform economic unit of the agricultural society, a group that tills the soil, harvests the crops, and carries out cooperatively the other necessary farm functions, disappeared. The neighborhood, the village norms and customs determining the people behavior and their vision of the outside world, an important factor of the agricultural society, disappeared as well.

In the industrial society, it is not only the men who went to the factory and offices for work; but the women also were earning members as the men and had an opportunity to work in different fields. As a result, the family members of industrial society were individualized in their outlook. The family became not only a production element but also to a consumption one. It now no longer performed the functions which it did in the pre-industrial societies. The emergence of modern family in place of traditional patriarchal family is an important feature of the industrial society.

Changes produced by the Industrial Revolution spread first and fastest in Western Europe—Britain, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Scandinavia, and, to an extent, Germany and Italy. Eastern and Southern Europe, more rural at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, changed more slowly.

The presence of a nonproducing class, holding wealth and power on the basis of private land ownership in the agricultural societies, was challenged by a new class of bourgeois, the middle class of industrialists, entrepreneurs, merchants, bankers—active participants of the Industrial Revolution, who created their wealth during that period. This class started trying to seize power from the ←47 | 48→hereditary privileged aristocracy and using its increasing wealth to make monarchs brought meaningful changes in the societal structure. The resentment of the bourgeoisie toward being excluded from political power and positions of honor was one of the reasons of the French Revolution in 1789, which overthrew the monarchy (rule by a hereditary king or queen) and established a republic. In addition it also weakened the Church and the aristocracy legitimacy, the principles founding the European ruling coalitions. The Revolution profoundly altered the course of modern history triggering the global decline of absolute monarchies.

It is impossible to deny the influence of the French Revolution in 1789 on the social changes during the First Industrial Revolution (1760–1870). The bourgeois-democratic French Revolution of 1870 that instituted a republic started a movement of democratization and liberalization that deeply influenced the European social structure during the 19th century, and the Second Industrial Revolution (1870–1914) was a direct reflection of these changes.

Started in Britain the First Industrial Revolution then spread throughout Western Europe and later North America. Britain and Germany started the Second Industrial Revolution. Germany invested more heavily than Britain in research, especially in chemistry, motors and electricity, and became a driving force of innovations. The Second Industrial Revolution was a period of rapid industrial development, primarily in Britain, Germany, and the United States, but also in France, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Scandinavia, Italy, Japan, and Russia. By 1900, the leaders in industrial production was Britain with 24 percent of the world total, followed by the U.S. (19 percent), Germany (13 percent), Russia (9 percent) and France (7 percent).

The indicated period was marked by technological, scientific, social and economic innovations. Steel began to replace iron and was used for construction projects, industrial machines, railroads, ships and many other items. The availability of cheap steel allowed building larger bridges, railroads, skyscrapers, ships, and more sophisticated military equipment. Electricity became the primary source of power factories, farms and homes. Inventions of electric lights made it possible for people to work around the clock. The use of electricity fundamentally changed the way people worked and lived. The first efficient commercial electrical generators were used in the 1870s. Electricity was used for transportation, as well. In 1879, the first electric railroad appeared in Germany. The invention of the telephone opened a new era in communication. The first commercial telegraph system was installed. German inventor Karl Benz patented the world’s first automobile in 1886. This period saw the development of new forms of energy such as gas and oil with their various applications.

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The science was continually improved and evolved into an engineering discipline. Fundamental results in physics (thermodynamics, electromagnetic theory, optics, etc.) and chemistry found their industrial applications. Newspapers and journals appeared. Universities started preparing specialists in various fields.

The industrial society transformed its economy; in turn, the economy was changing the society and its neighbors. The pre-industrial society was structured on endorsed status. The industrial society shattered this structure. The status of a member of industrial society depended on his accomplishments; it could raise or low during his life time.

The most important difference between the industrial and pre-industrial society is in the structure of economic institutions based on the property rights. The established conception of what constitutes property expanded beyond land to encompass various things belonging to individuals. Moreover, the French Revolution of 1789 led to large-scale confiscation of land formerly owned by church and king. The industrial society was marked by a new system of production, distribution, and exchange. Capitalism was marked by the institutions of private property, division of labor, profit oriented activity, competition, and the wage and credit system. One of its new features was the collective ownership. With the emergence of corporations, industrial business became owned not by one man but by millions of people and was controlled by management.

The society changed its attitude to workers who were not considered as a social class and did not have access to political representation. In 1851, universal male suffrage started in France. Germany was the second European state to offer universal male suffrage in 1866. In 1867, Britain doubled the electorate and gave vote to the lower middle class for the first time; the Reform Bill also limited working hours, established sanitary codes, created housing standards, and aided labor unions; in 1884, 2/ 3 adult males received the right to vote. Between 1883 and 1889, Germany established a comprehensive system of social insurance that included accident, sickness, and old age benefits and became the first welfare state in Europe. In the 1890s, France, influenced by socialist parties, pushed through a limited program of unemployment, old age, accident, and sickness insurance for workers. In the 1890s, the emergence of the Labor Party in England highlighted the agenda for social reform providing accident, sickness, old age, and unemployment insurance for workers.

Technological innovations helped to make transoceanic connections possible that, in turn, made possible the interconnection of the Eastern and Western hemispheres and the formation of new regional markets and financial centers. Increased transregional and global trade networks facilitated the spread of religion ←49 | 50→and other elements of culture as well as the migration of large numbers of people. The increase in interactions between newly connected hemispheres and intensification of connections within hemispheres led to the spread of Christianity and reform of existing religions.

The 19th century Europe witnessed the impact of the new political and social ideas, rapid population growth and acceleration of the industrialization, the clash between the forces of change and of conservatism. This century is known not only as the period of workers fight for more democratic regimes but also as the century of growing nationalism and numerous wars between powerful nations.

In contrast to some democratic changes in Europe, the Industrial Revolution produced an opposite effect on the Muslim world. The Ottoman Empire and Egypt started reshaping their military forces in the image of European powers. This process involved the reorganization and building of new educational facilities. Military and other reforms resulted in the rise of a new elite that was educated in European style academies. To expand central power the rulers tried to decrease influence of religious leaders—ulama and millet leaders.

The 19th century was dominated by a new round of revolution, the unifications of the German and Italian nations, and by the wars that left lasting effects on the entire world and set the stage for the two deadliest World Wars of the next century.

The publication of Marx’s Capital produced significant effect on the development of the labor movement in Europe and later all over the world. In Germany, before World War I, the Social Democratic Party won the Reichstag elections of 1912 with almost 35 percent of the popular vote and became the strongest parliamentary group. The socialist unions fought successfully for bilateral collective labor agreements with employers. As a result, wages had risen modestly but steadily over the last decade before the war. In turn, employers resisted any concessions, and the climate in German industrial relations changed for the worse before 1914. Usually, a war serves a kind of a remedy to improve the political climate inside a country. This was one of the reasons of the 1914 war in which eight million people died.

Because of World War I the European map underwent a change. The German, Russian, Turkish, and Austro-Hungarian Empires that fought in this war were swept away by defeat and revolution. Monarchy was abolished in these countries. Out of the debris of these empires many new states like Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, etc. were born. In Russia, its poor economy, growing unrest among the population and severe losses during the war resulted in the Russian Revolution of 1917. During its first stage the monarchy was overthrown and replaced by ←50 | 51→the Provisional Government as a step in the creation of a permanent democratic-parliamentary institution for Russia. However, in October, this government was overthrown by the Bolsheviks (the October Bolshevik Revolution) and the Soviet Communist government (the formation of USSR in 1922) was established, the authoritarian regime that lasted for decades.

The spread of democracy and nationalism was the most significant effect of World War 1. The nationalistic movements gained strength not only in Europe but also in Asia and Africa, where people strengthened their fight for independence. In 1920, most of the European countries had democratic governments established. Multiparty systems of government looked as a sign of strengthening democracy. Trade unions became a powerful economic force in various countries. In a number of countries labor welfare laws were passed to meet the demands of the workers.

Economic crisis in Germany in early 1920 and the Great Depression of 1929 totally destabilized the European economy. At the same time, Japan became a powerful country in Asia, and the United States, despite the Great Depression, emerged as a super power.

The spread of Marxism and the revolution in Russia made communism one of the world’s influencing ideologies and gave birth to communist parties. In Germany, the members of Communist party and some representatives of the workers movement, altogether with Jewish population, were accused by the powerful propaganda machine of the Nazi Party (the National Socialist German Workers’ Party) of being the reason of all German failures. Under Hitler’s leadership this party started World War II. Nazism in Germany and Fascism in Italy, as well as the power government structure in the Soviet Union, presented the new form of government—totalitarianism, where one party has total control.

Germany’s defeat in World War II brought the Soviet Union to the world stage as one of the liberators from fascism. The map of Europe and the world was greatly changed, setting the tone for political battles throughout the remainder of the century. If before the War the Soviet Union was the only country with the communist ideology, after the War it extended its influence by obtaining a group of vassals in the Europe with communist dictatorship. China and North Korea brought this ideology to Asia. The presence of a huge and potentially powerful block of communist nations in Europe and Asia changed the balance of world politics. Communists parties created in the European democratic countries and in the United States were subsidized and guided by Kremlin. They became the Soviet organ of communist propaganda, spying, and subversive activity. After the Soviet Union became the world’s second (after the United States) nuclear ←51 | 52→power and taking into account that Stalin brought all the East European countries under the umbrella of Soviet control, Russia became the second superpower. It was the beginning of the Cold War Era.

In 1948, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) consisting of ten Western European nations plus the United States and Canada was formed to provide mutual defense and stability in Europe, peacekeeping in Europe and beyond. To prevent in Southeast Asia the spread of communism Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO, 1955) was created that included Australia, France, Britain, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand, and the U.S. In response to NATO, the Soviet Union responded with the Warsaw Pact (1955) consisting of seven Eastern European nations and the Soviet Union.

In the previous centuries a large part of the world was in the hands of European powers, established as colonies. After World War II the process of decolonization started. Local nationalist movements forced various European empires to leave Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Korea was freed in 1945 after the defeat of Japan. In 1946, the U.S. relinquished the Philippines. Britain left India in 1947, Palestine in 1948, and Egypt in 1956; it withdrew from Africa in the 1950s. The French left Vietnam in 1954 and gave up its North African colonies by 1962. This was a period of the rapid spread of democratic forms of government in Latin America, Eastern Europe and Africa.

Technological progress helped create sophisticated weapons and test them during the Wars. The level of devastation and lives losses during these wars plus the development of new nuclear weapons produced a sobering effect on the world community. People of leading industrial countries wanted a quiet and peaceful life. This endeavor found its reflection in several international organization established immediately as the end of World War II to promote international cooperation and security.

The largest and most influential was the United Nations (UN), which goal was to promote peace and stability. The unconceivable bloodshed of the World Wars led to the creation of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), sometimes called the World Court, established in 1945 by the UN Charter as the principal judicial organ of the United Nations and responsible for settling international legal disputes submitted by states. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) was to stabilize the international monetary system and act as a monitor of the world’s currencies to ensure stable exchange rates. The World Bank was to focus on post-war infrastructure reconstruction and help developing countries to reduce poverty by providing financing, policy advice, and technical assistance to their governments.

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The administrative and production units of industrial countries became significantly complex and qualitatively different from the pre-industrial ones. Starting 1930, industrialism changed the nature of agricultural production. In countries such as the United States, large-scale agribusinesses had practically replaced small, family-owned farms and ranches. New types of industries as automotive, aerospace, pharmaceutical, etc. emerged. Education was considered as an important instrument of national development. Public education via schools, the increased number of schools, universities and technical colleges, and eventually the mass media became the norm of the post-World War II life. The growth of the world’s population and the improved level of life is a sign of progress that can be explained partially by the after–World Wars reshaping of the administrative and production units of many countries.

The most common form of government from ancient times to the early part of the 20th century was monarchy. The World Wars ended this tradition. Now the vast majority of all the world’s states have the elected government based on national constitutions. Even one-party states, such as the traditional Communist countries and other nations in Africa, Asia, and South America, created formal constitutions to legitimize the established rules. Technological progress was the decisive factor of all positive changes in the world. However, the existence of nuclear weapons and the desire of some countries to develop it made the world more dangerous than it had been earlier.

Post-Industrial Societies

The post-industrial society is the stage of society’s development when the service sector (made up of people such as doctors, nurses, teachers, researchers, social workers, lawyers, etc.) generates more wealth than the manufacturing sector of the economy. It means that it accounts of more of the economic growth and wealth than the manufacturing sector that consists of more than twenty sub-sectors of different industries, which are made up of people such as construction workers, textile mill workers, food manufacturers, electrical equipment workers, computers and electronic products workers, etc. At the end of 1960s, the United States became the first country to have more than fifty percent of its workers employed in service sector jobs. The shift of the labor force to the service sector was possible in societies that focused on mass producing goods using machinery and often assembly lines. Information technology and advanced technology are more important in the post-industrial societies than manufacturing goods, which ←53 | 54→variety and quantity are available to an average person and their surplus is a subject of international trade.

Science-based industries of the post-industrial societies rested on knowledge-based activities are fundamentally different from the industries of the Industrial Revolution, such as steel, automobile, and telephone. Modern cars contain products of different industries; computer technology devices control not only the car performance and safety but also serve as a navigation system, radio, enable one to play music, watch TV, and use a phone. The extensive production of personal computers, the widespread use of email and the Internet have changed dramatically the nature of work and the economy. Sociologists introduced the term knowledge economy emphasizing its greater reliance on intellectual capabilities than on physical inputs or natural resources, as it was before. These capabilities include efforts to pay attention and integrate improvements in every stage of the production process from its research and development to production and the interface with customers. The value and importance to the economy of manual labor workforce decline, and those of professional workers (e.g., scientists, computer programmers, creative-industry professionals, and information technology professionals) grow in value and prevalence.

The Internet became a universal tool: for learning, for conducting research, for business, for marketing, for shopping, for entertainment, and for communication. Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn enable groups of people to exchange views. This presented an opportunity for each person to express himself/herself and feel that his/her opinion matters. Such opportunity is the best manifestation of democracy, ability for persons to have their voice heard. Now many countries have made this possible.

World War II caused the deaths of around sixty million soldiers and civilians. It proved that extreme nationalism in Europe and an increase tension between European nations led to the devastation rather than prosperity. A common expression after 1945 was “Never again,” which symbolized a universal desire not to repeat the mistakes of the past. The logical inference was to change the existing system of competition between European states to a system of cooperation. In 1957, France, West Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg sign a treaty in Rome establishing the European Economic Community (EEC), also known as the Common Market. In 1993, the European Union (EU) was created, a political and economic union between European countries that set policies concerning the members’ economies, societies, laws, and, to some extent, security. The European Union of 27 member nations presents a political union among sovereign states, and its Common Market constitutes one of the major economies of the world.

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The ideas of the so-called globalization—international integration, arising from the interchange of world views, products, ideas and other aspects of culture—that, as its proponents stated, has the potential to solve such world problems like unemployment and poverty, became popular in some post-industrial societies. In 1995, the World Trade Organization (WTO), the global international organization dealing with the rules of trade between nations, was created. The separate collective trade agreements, such as, for example, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA, 1993), the negotiated Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the European Union and the United States, and various international organizations dealing with various would community’s problems are the elements of interaction between nations unknown earlier.

The international judicial system (e.g., Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) established in 1952; European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) established in 1959; Central American Court of Justice first established in 1907 was reconfigured in 1991 under the newly created Central American Integration System (SICA);the Inter-American Court of Human Rights established in 1969; the International Criminal Court (ICC) established in 2002 to consider serious international crimes, including genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity) contributed to peace and stability after the devastating World Wars.

Capitalism, an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit rather than by the state, remains an important characteristic of the most post-industrial societies. A capitalist country (e.g., the United States) is a country with a free market economy, where people have ownership of business and property. Services such as health care are also available for private use in a free market. Socialist governments (in most European countries) control ownership of the most important industries or a significant part of their assets and provide services such as education, health care and welfare services. In communist systems (the former Soviet Union, Cuba, North Korea) all business and all services such as health care, education and welfare are controlled by the government. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the end of Communist control within its republics and its European satellites, the communist China allowed some private companies to operate, but the biggest companies remained state-owned.

Industrialization brought changes in almost every aspect of society. People’s life expectancy increased as their health improved. Political institutions changed into modern models of governance. The dictatorship (a form of government where one person has total control) and totalitarianism (a form of government where one party has total control) were on the decline. In many monarchies kings ←55 | 56→or queens lost their rule to parliamentary systems, where representatives of the people are elected through political parties.

Cultural diversity increased, as did social mobility. Social power moved into the hands of business elites and governmental officials. Labor unions play an important role in many countries. The increased complexity of the administrative and production units produced the growth of bureaucracy and hierarchical methods of management.

Industrialization brought technological advances that improved people’s health and expanded their life spans. People in these societies typically enjoy greater political freedom than those in older societies. Religion no longer plays an important role in controlling the behavior of people. Education and science are looked upon as a promising. Compared to agricultural societies, industrial societies also have lowered gender inequality. In industrial societies people do have a greater chance to succeed than in the earlier societies.

The above material is a short description of the stages of human societal development. The question is whether the structure of societies and the relationship between their main components (the production and administrative units) are the main factors explaining the societal dynamics—its progress or stagnation. We will analyze this in next chapters.


Coser. L. (1964). The Functions of Social Conflict. New York: Free Press.

Giddens, A. (2001). Sociology. Fourth Edition. London: Polity Press.

Lenski, G., Nolan, P., Lenski, J. (1970). Human Societies: An Introduction to Macrosociology. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Marx, K. (1999). Capital: An Abridged Edition. UK: Oxford University Press.

Pareto, W. (1935). The Mind and Society. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company.

Plato. (2019). The Republic. Translated by Benjamin Jowett, London: Blurb, Inc.

Spencer, H. (1887). The Factors of Organic Evolution. London: Williams and Norgate.

Spengler, O. (1962). The Decline of the West. The Knopf edition. Atkinson’s Translation, New York: Random House, Inc.

Steward, J. (1969). Cultural Evolution. Scientific American, 194:69–80.

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Societal Dynamics and Ideology

“The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good government.”

—Thomas Jefferson


Social development theory, the essential part of sociology, should explain qualitative changes in the structure of society that can help better realize its aims and objectives. The historical examples of societal development enable us to check the validity of the existing social theories, evaluate them from the views of contemporary post-industrial societies of the 21th century.

Although the first hunting and gathering societies had appeared about two million years ago, they still exist (e.g., in Kalahari Desert of Africa). Pastoral societies are still in remote areas of Africa, far from political and economic centers. They inhabit some of the most fragile and harsh environments in Africa, where a large percentage of land is not suitable for crop agriculture, making livestock the lifeline providing food, income, inputs, means of transport and fulfilling other ←57 | 58→socio-cultural needs. Horticultural societies exist to this day and can be found primarily in wet, tropical climates in Southeast Asia, South America, and Africa. As to agricultural societies, about 80 percent of countries are still agricultural and about 45 percent of the world’s population makes their living through agriculture. The proportion of the population involved in agriculture ranges from about 2 percent in the United States to about 80 percent in some parts of Asia and Africa.

The existing industrial and agricultural countries differ by types of their political systems and how they are run. Some governments are dictatorships or they are totalitarian governments. There exists also a theocracy or a monarchy as well as a parliamentarian or presidential system of government.

Three city-states of different nature survived turbulences of the 20th century. The Vatican City is a monarchical state (a type of theocracy) ruled by the Pope of the Catholic Church. The highest state functionaries are all Catholic clergy of various national origins. Monaco is constitutional monarchy, where the power of a monarch is limited by the constitution. It is mostly a banking and tourist center. Singapore is a parliamentary republic. It is a high technology nation and, according to numerous international ratings, the third most competitive country in the world, third-largest foreign exchange market, third-largest financial center, third-largest oil refining and trading center, fifth-most innovative country.

As indicated earlier, absolute monarchies, with unlimited power of monarchs, have almost disappeared now. They collapsed in Turkey, in China, in most of the Arab countries, in the principates of India, in the tribal kingdoms of Africa, and in several countries of Southeast Asia. They remain in several Arab countries (Saudi Arabia, Oman). Other existing monarchies are constitutional monarchies. As to Qatar, the disputed question is whether this country should be regarded as a constitutional monarchy or an absolute monarchy.

Some European countries, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand have a constitutional monarchy with a ceremonial head of state. Monarchs in these countries have no real power. In reality, these countries, as the most countries in the world, are republics run by representatives of voters with each person getting voted for a period of time.

The most spread systems of government are a parliamentary and presidential system. The main difference between them is that in a presidential system, the president is separate from the legislative body, but in a parliamentary system, the chief executive, such as a prime minister, is part of the legislative body, or parliament. For example, Germany is a parliamentary republic, but the USA is a presidential republic. If a republic is a form of government, democracy is a source ←58 | 59→of governmental authority. Many republics are democracies. However, this cannot be said about North Korea, China, Cuba, Vietnam, Iran, and some other countries.

From the above short description of the current world sociological picture it is difficult to conclude that evolution and cyclical theories are able to explain societal changes and the reasons of the uneven development of various countries. As indicated earlier, they lack of persuasive arguments concerning the driving forces of changes. Conflict theory (see Coser, 1964), which modifies Marx’s consideration of a conflict between labor and capital, stating that tensions and conflicts arise when resources, status, and power are unevenly distributed between groups in society and that these conflicts become the engine for social change, cannot provide a convincing explanation of the changes of pre-agricultural societies since it does not pay a proper attention to the economic factor, which is dominant in Marx’s theory.

Among the indicated earlier social theories the Marx theory deserves special attention since it catches properly the main factor contributing to societal development. The level of development of a society is determined by the state of its economy, the mode of production. The level of economic development characterizes also the degree of human development and progress as well. The degree of specialization linked with the division of labor is a part of theories of social evolution that view social change as a process of evolution from simple to more complex form of society. Specialization promotes the increased productivity and economic growth.

According to Marx, productive forces constitute the means of production (natural resources, land, labor, raw material, machines, and other tools of production), and their level of development determines the social relations of production. The mode of production is a combination of the means of production and relations of production. Therefore, the socio-economic structure of society is basically determined by the state of productive forces.

In the Preface to Capital: A Critique of Political Economy Marx (1999) summarized his theory of social change: “At a certain stage of their development, the material forces of production in society come into conflict with the existing relations of production or with the property relations within which they had been at work before. From forms of development of the forces of production these relations turn into their fetters. Then comes the period of social revolution with the change of the economic foundation, the entire immense superstructure is more or less rapidly transformed.” Thus, the evolution of the economic base (mode of production) is the key to social change, what Engels called the law of development ←59 | 60→of human history, and changes in the economic base produce ideologies which induce people to fight out social struggles.

It is not clear how the above statement can explain the dissolution of the former Soviet Union and the end of the communist rule in Europe and the Asian part of the former USSR. Two main Marx’s mistakes are in his insufficient clear understanding of capitalism and the desire to create political theory rather than scientific social theory. He developed his theory based on socio-economic data of the initial stage of capitalism. It is well known that each dynamic process has its transient regime which may have significantly worse characteristics than the established stationary regime.

Unfortunately, the horrors of the Industrial Revolution described in the literature look as a proof of the horrors of capitalism. A brief look at history textbooks used in British colleges shows that most professors, who do not specifically study the Industrial Revolution, accept without reservation the view that capitalism led to a deterioration of living conditions for the working class. As Nobel laureate in economics Friedrich Hayek (1954) pointedly argued, the Industrial Revolution portrayed by the pessimists is the “one supreme myth which more than any other has served to discredit the economic system to which we owe our modern day civilization.” It is impossible to deny that there was considerable social and economic disruption throughout the revolution (difficult working conditions in some manufacturing facilities, unemployment, etc.), which attracted attention of writers and with their publications spread all over the world and created a negative attitude about capitalism. Among critics of the Industrial Revolution there were the world-known writer Charles Dickens (1812–1870) and the poet William Blake (1757–1827).

However, the later research refuted such views. Although the extent of the increase in real wages is hotly debated, the most recent evidence suggests that blue-collar real wages doubled between 1810 and 1850 (Williamson, 1985). The lack of a reliable government statistics in 19th century made impossible to prove that the strongly positive effect of the Industrial Revolution was largely offset by the negative effects of rapid population growth.

Unfortunately, Marx and Engels emphasized only negative sides of the initial stage of capitalism widely publicized by those who did not see or did not want to see the advantage of the market economy. They believed in the necessity of government interference in the arising market economy. Although it is impossible to argue that government should deal with a country economic development, the intervention should be of a different kind than the recommended one by Marxists.

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In Adam Smith’s An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776), the philosopher foresaw the effect of the market mechanism. According to his famous phrase, the combination of self-interest, private property, and competition among sellers in markets will lead producers “as by an invisible hand” to an end that they did not intend, namely, the well-being of society. In his view, society’s interests are met by maximum production of the things that people want; such an optimization approach was offered far before the system and optimization theories were developed.

Merchants and trade are as old as civilization itself. Human beings, Adam Smith said, have always had a propensity to “truck, barter, and exchange one thing for another.” Embryos of the capitalist economy are imbedded in humans. First, they reminded about themselves with a rise of trade, starting with horticultural societies. Trade opened doors of closed societies into the outer world, helped to develop cooperation between societies, to increase people knowledge and outlook, to learn other cultures. Trade created people who were ready to take a risk since the travel to different societies to buy, sell or exchange goods was not save.

The capitalist system emerged only when the production rather than exchange of goods became the central focus of the economic development. This required new types of leaders—the entrepreneurs or risk takers. A key element of capitalism is an activity in the expectation that it will yield gain in the future. Because the future is unknown, there always exist both the risk of loss and the possibility of gain. To get gains the entrepreneur should possess certain knowledge and managerial qualities. The economic growth is achieved through the accumulation of an economic surplus by the entrepreneur and the plowing of this surplus back into the system for further expansion.

For Marx the economic surplus, called surplus value or profit, is a symbol of exploitation of working class rather than the core of the capitalist mode of production that makes the economy grow. According to Marx, the capitalist society focuses on production for profit rather than production for need. His definition of value is vague, as if he deliberately evades to use the market value and does not discuss the market mechanism of establishing prices on goods and services which are determined by demand and tend to decrease with the technological advances.

As seen from the previous material, the surplus was a sign of development. The accumulation of surpluses has been a stimulus for growth of civilizations throughout history. The production of agricultural surpluses by Athenian farmers prompted Athens to open up trade routes and become a major commercial power in the ancient world. For Marx the surplus is a political tool.

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The system analysis of the economy is based on the criterion approach. Yes, in capitalist societies all is produced for profit based on demand, and the goal is to satisfy demand. Marx’s theory pursues a different goal. In the introduced term mode of production he puts the main accent on its human component (slaves, serfs, feudalists or capitalists) rather than on the technological developments that created a certain mode of production. The socio-economic character of different societies he characterizes by the specific relations of production (like slavery, feudalism or capitalism). As it follows from the above quote of Marx’s Capital, the conflict between classes and class struggle are the moving force that changes societies. Marx believed that the class struggle was the driving force of social change. For him it was the “motor of history.” He states that “the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles” (Communist Manifesto, 1848). The period of changes he calls the period of social revolution.

History teaches that in a system shattered with class conflict government by a “strongman” was often the best solution. The examples of such “best solutions” were Stalin, Mussolini, and Hitler. Marx’s statement that class struggle between industrial workers and the management eventually leads to overthrow of the capitalist system and establishment of socialism and communism sounds ridiculous now. However, even by 1890, this theory was being revised: another road to achieve social goals that would benefit the workers by peaceful means, via elections and through state legislation, was discussed.

The main Marx mistake is in his not understanding of the major defining features of the capitalist economy—the use of wage-labor and the existence of labor markets. The role of labor markets in capitalism is critical in understanding the historical development of capitalist economy. To be fair to Marx, it should be noted that the period of the Industrial Revolution, as indicated earlier, was accompanied by unemployment, and that is why he missed this important component of the new economy. However, this cannot justify such a crucial blunder in his theory.

Earlier we indicated that individuals estimate their abilities and establish the admissible values of their well-being criteria. It is not clear why all industrial workers should be unsatisfied with their wages. Moreover, they are not slaves, and the existence of job markets enables them to choose another job. The conflict between classes as the moving force of change in the Marx theory is not supported by the persuasive consideration. In the Ancient Greece, between 30 and 40 percent of its population were slaves. Had it changed the democracy of Athens and had it been the reason of its fall?

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A theory is a well-established explanation for scientific data. A theory can become established if it is well tested, but it can be refuted by a single contrary result. Unfortunately, social theories have a long life despite of many holes in their statements.

As indicated in Chapter 2, the base (infrastructure) and superstructure are two linked central theoretical concepts of Marxist theory. The base refers to the forces and relations of production: employer– employee work conditions; the technical division of labor; the property relations into which people enter to produce the necessities and amenities of life; the materials and resources involved in producing the things society needs. The relations of production determine society’s other relationships and ideas, which are described as its superstructure that includes everything not related directly to production: the political structure and the political apparatus that governs society, institutions (education, religion, media), culture, ideology, norms.

The superstructure refers to all other social structures that govern and reflect ideology and culture. By embedding these structures in the superstructure Marx argues that the superstructure justifies how the base operates, and in doing so, justifies the power of the ruling class. According to the Marx theory, the superstructure grows out of the base and, because as the place where norms, values, beliefs, and ideology reside, reflects the interests of the ruling class that controls it.

Marx believed that the dominant ideas of any period are the ideas of the dominant social class. Rule by divine right and a key role of religion were the dominant ideas of the feudal aristocracy. The emerging capitalist class challenged these ideas. The Marx social model, where the superstructure of society is the realm of ideology and the base is the realm of production, reflects his political views and goals. The artificial inclusion of such components as education, religion, media, culture, ideology in the superstructure made the model not reflecting the reality, so that made it unworkable. Educational organizations, media, entertainment, artists, writers etc. are parts of the service industry, a type of business that provides services to customers. They should belong to the base rather than to the superstructure.

Now everyone agrees that Netflix and Amazon are the current giants in the entertainment as a service industry since they have forever changed how people watch TV by providing on-demand streaming. Now there exist the terms media and entertainment industry. Similarly to sole proprietors writers, artists, etc. serve public, and their talent is a source of their income. Both services and products are produced by human labor power.

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In the book, this type of organizations or individuals is a part of the production unit. The administrative unit is a control unit; executive, legislative, and judicial branches are its main components. The production and administrative units were introduced as the basic structural components of social systems and their functions follow from society’s needs to function—to exist, grow and develop.

As indicated earlier, although the administrative unit controls the activity of the production unit, the changes in the production unit influence the functioning of the administrative unit that tries to resists or adjust to these changes. Ideology is the driving force of the changes. It is obvious that the dominant ideology determines the structure of the administrative unit. However, with societal development the sources of ideology were increasing and the dominant ideology appeared as a result of interaction of all components of the considered social structure. The dynamics of the administrative unit, considered below, reflects the changes in ideology of society.

Basic Role of Government and Dynamics of the Administrative Unit

The Encyclopedia Britannica offers the following definition of government: the political system by which a country or community is administered and regulated. Government comprises the set of legal and political institutions that regulate the relationships among members of a society and between the society and outsiders. Government is responsible primarily for making public policy for an entire society to guide the society in a certain direction and maintain order; it has the authority to establish goals and make decisions to meet these goals.

Within the modern nation-states government operates at many different levels, ranging from villages to cities, counties, provinces, and states. In the book we focus on the policy of national government, the government that rules the whole country (federal government in the case of countries with federal systems of government).

Today most governments derive their legitimacy from national constitutions that provide a legal framework for their rule and specify how power is to be exercised and controlled. Moreover, few governments in the modern world have constitutional arrangements that are more than a century old. Only the United Kingdom and the United States keep possessing constitutional arrangements that predate the 20th century. The vast majority of all the world’s governments have constitutions written in the 20th or 21st century. However, in some countries ←64 | 65→the constitution is no more than a piece of paper, and its provisions bear almost no relationship to the reality. Nevertheless, the communist countries and some nations in Africa, Asia, and South America have found it necessary to establish formal constitutions that serves them as a paper façade to justify their legitimacy.

Nowadays most governments are authorized to act based on a legal constitution, laws and accepted civil standards. French political philosopher Baron de Montesquieu (1689–1755) was the first to urge the creation of three separate institutions or divisions of government, a distinction that became common in almost all modern constitutions. Governments based on Western legal standards have three branches—the executive, legislative, and judicial. Each branch operates based on criteria established by the constitutional authority. Each branch works individually and collectively to establish and maintain laws for the country as a whole.

The executive branch is headed by an elected or appointed leader that oversees and manages the operation of government. The executive branch is also responsible for maintaining diplomatic relations and the military.

The legislative branch is responsible for drafting, writing and passing laws to be followed in the country. Legislation in the form of bills is drafted and debated by the legislative body. A bill becomes law only if a majority votes in favor of passage. Once a law is passed, it applies to the entire country. The judicial branch executes the existing laws.

The role of any national government unvaryingly was and remains to protect the safety and well-being of its citizens and the sovereignty of the country’s borders. All governments recognize the principle that its citizens must be protected and served.

In the past, some governments were strong enough to establish empires that ruled not only their own people but also peoples of conquered countries. The present-day counterpart of the empire is the so-called superpower that is able to lead or dominate other countries through its superior military and economic strength.

The modern nowadays governments of the most developed industrial countries have a long prehistory of adjustments and modifications of earlier existing structures, laws and organizations reflecting the changes in society, its production unit and its ideology.

Every social system has at least two goals to be attained through cooperative effort. One of them is national security. In almost every social system some participants, including whole subgroups, violate the relational norms. So far as these norms meet social needs, violations are a threat to the social system. If social ←65 | 66→system does not work out standardized reactions to the violations to protect the integrity of society, social order would break down.


XVI, 306
ISBN (Book)
Publication date
2021 (April)
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2021. XVI, 306 pp., 1 b/w ill.

Biographical notes

Rafael Yanushevsky (Author)

Rafael Yanushevsky received his PhD from the Institute of Control Sciences of the USSR Academy of Sciences in Moscow, Russia. After immigrating to the United States, he worked as Professor at the University of Maryland. His company Research and Technology Consulting focuses on technical and macro socio-economic problems. He has published 6 books and over 100 papers and is an editor of 15 books and a reviewer of several journals. He is included in "Who’s Who in America," "Who’s Who in Science and Engineering," and "Who’s Who in American Education," as well as "International Professional of the Year 2008" and "2000 Outstanding Intellectuals of the 21st Century."


Title: Sociology, Politics, and Human Nature