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Human Societies

An Introduction to Macrosociology

Twelfth Edition

Patrick Nolan and Gerhard Lenski

Publication Date - 08 October 2014

ISBN: 9780199382453

480 pages
7-1/2 x 9-1/4 inches

In Stock

This classic introduction to sociology text takes a macro, comparative, and historical approach


Taking a macrosociological, global approach, Human Societies offers an introduction to sociology that is truly comparative, cross-cultural, and historical. It compares societies over time and across environments, emphasizing the dynamics of social change. Its clearly developed ecological-evolutionary perspective provides a powerful theoretical framework for understanding the array of social arrangements found in human societies over the past 100,000 years. Since industrial societies are introduced only after this theoretical base has been firmly established and older, simpler, and smaller societies have been examined in detail, students see their own society (and other contemporary societies) in a broader and more meaningful way. By showing how social arrangements are related to the environmental and technological contexts that societies are situated in, Human Societies encourages students to look for the reasons why social arrangements are the way they are, and why they change over time.

New to this Edition

  • A revised introduction makes students more aware of how unusual contemporary societies are
  • New boxed inserts
  • New data incorporated throughout
  • Heavily revised data, tables, and discussions in Chapters 10-15

About the Author(s)

Patrick Nolan is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of South Carolina. An NDEA Title IV Fellow at Temple University, he has been recognized several times by his students as "one who has made a difference." In addition, in November of 2002 he received the Excellence in Teaching Award from the Alpha Chapter of the Mortar Board (Honors College), and in May 2005 he received the student-nominated Two Thumbs Up Award from Disability Services.

Gerhard Lenski is Professor Emeritus at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and author of Ecological-Evolutionary Theory (2005), Power and Privilege (1966), and The Religious Factor (1961). He has been the recipient of the University of Michigan's Award for Teaching Excellence (1959), a Guggenheim Fellowship (1972-73), and the ASA's Career of Distinguished Scholarship Award (2002).

Previous Publication Date(s)

July 2010
November 2005
January 2003

Table of Contents


    Part One: Theoretical Foundations

    1. The Human Condition

    Human Societies: Their Place in Nature
    Societies as Adaptive Mechanisms / A Definition of Human Societies
    Understanding Human Societies: Basic Assumptions
    Human Societies and the Environment / Human Societies: Their Genetic Heritage / Human Cultures: A New and Unique Mode of Adaptation and a New and Unique Kind of Heritage
    Human Societies: The Basic Model
    Excursus: A Brief History of Sociology

    2. Human Societies as Sociocultural Systems
    Human Societies as Systems
    The Five Basic Components of Human Societies
    Population / Culture / Material Products / Social Organization / Social Institutions and Institutional Systems
    The World System of Societies

    3. The Evolution of Human Societies
    Forces Promoting Social and Cultural Continuity
    Forces Promoting Social and Cultural Change
    Forms of Innovation / Causes of Innovation / Variations in the Rate of Innovation
    Forces of Selection
    Intrasocietal Selection / Intersocietal Selection
    Societal Growth and Development
    Subsistence Technology's Role in Sociocultural Evolution / Ideology's Role in Sociocultural Evolution
    A Model of the Evolution of the World System of Societies
    Excursus: A Comparison of Biological and Sociocultural Evolution

    4. Types of Human Societies
    Classifying Human Societies
    Societal Types through History
    Historical Eras
    Differences among Types of Societies
    Size of Societies / Permanence of Settlements / Societal Complexity / Ideology
    Societal Types: What They Are and What They Are Not
    Technological Determinism Rejected

    Part Two: Preindustrial Societies

    5. Hunting and Gathering Societies

    The Emergence of Homo Sapiens prior to 100,000 BC: Establishing a Genetic Foundation for Cultural Evolution
    Hunting and Gathering Societies 100,000 BC to 8,000 BC: Cultural Evolution Takes
    Hunting and Gathering Societies of the Recent Past
    Population / Kinship / The Economy / The Polity / Stratification / Religion / Education / The Arts and Leisure / Tribal Ties: Links between Societies
    Hunting and Gathering Societies in Theoretical Perspective
    Archaeological and Ethnographic Evidence Compared / A Model of Limited Development / The Last Hunting and Gathering Societies

    6. Horticultural Societies
    Causes of the Shift from Hunting and Gathering to Horticulture
    The Technology of Horticulture
    Simple Horticultural Societies in Prehistoric Asia and Europe
    The First Great Social Revolution
    Simple Horticultural Societies in the Modern Era
    Population and Economy / The Continuing Importance of Kinship / Developments in Polity, Stratification, and Warfare
    Advanced Horticultural Societies in Prehistoric Asia and Europe
    The Shift from Stone to Metals / Social Consequences of Metal Tools and Weapons
    Advanced Horticultural Societies in the Modern Era
    Increased Size and Complexity / Political Development / Horticultural Societies in Southeast Asia
    Horticultural Societies in Theoretical Perspective
    Excursus: Race, Environment, and Societal Development

    7. Agrarian Societies
    Simple Agrarian Societies
    Technology / Religion and the Growth of the Economic Surplus / Population: Growth in Size of Communities and Societies / The Polity: Growth of the State / The Economy: The First Monetary Systems and the Growth of Trade / Stratification: Increasing Inequality / Slowdown in the Rate of Technological Innovation
    Advanced Agrarian Societies
    Technology / Population: Continuing Trends / The Economy: Increasing Differentiation / The Polity: Continuing Development of the State / Religion: The Emergence of Universal Faiths / Kinship: Changing Significance in Society / The Role of Women in Agrarian Societies / Leisure and the Arts / Stratification: Increasing Complexity
    Variations on Agrarian Themes
    Agrarian Societies in Theoretical Perspective

    8. Some Evolutionary Bypaths and a Brief Review
    Environmentally Specialized Societal Types
    Fishing Societies / Herding Societies / Maritime Societies
    A Brief Review: Sociocultural Evolution to the Eve of the Industrial Revolution
    Part Three: Industrial Societies and Industrializing Societies

    9. The Industrial Revolution
    Causes of the Industrial Revolution
    The Accumulation of Information in the Agrarian Era / Advances in Water Transportation and the Conquest of the New World / The Printing Press and the Spread of Information / Advances in Agriculture / A Model of the Causes of the Industrial Revolution
    A Brief History of the Industrial Revolution
    First Phase: Steam Engines, Iron, Coal, Textile Machines, Factories / Second Phase: Railroads, Steamships, Steel, Rubber, Farm Machines / Third Phase: Automobiles, Airplanes, Telephones, Electricity, Petroleum, Radios, Movies / Fourth Phase: Television, Computers, Transistors, the Internet, Plastics, Globalization / Key Innovations: New Energy, New Machines, New Materials / A Caution: The Dark Side of the Industrial Revolution
    Causes of the Continuing Industrial Revolution
    Greater Informational Resources and a Larger Population / Changing Attitudes toward Innovation / The Rise of Modern Science / War / Environmental Feedback / The Desire for Ever Higher Standards of Living
    Varying Levels of Industrialization in the World System of Societies?
    Consequences of the Industrial Revolution
    Initial Consequences / Long-Run Consequences: An Overview

    10. Industrial Societies: Technologies and Economies
    The Technological Foundation of Industrial Societies?
    The Economies of Industrial Societies
    The Urbanization of Production / Rise in Productivity and in the Standard of Living / The Shift from Labor-Intensive to Capital-Intensive Industries / Changes in the Labor Force / The Rise of Market Economies / Moves toward Mixed Economies / Evolution of the Modern Corporation
    Globalization: Increasing Economic Integration of the World Economy

    11. Industrial Societies: Ideologies and Polities
    Ideologies in Industrial Societies
    Theistic Religions / New Secular Ideologies
    Differences among Industrial Societies
    The Polities of Industrial Societies?
    The Democratic Trend / Democracy as a Variable / Causes of the Democratic Trend / Mass Political Parties / Special Interest Groups / The Mass Media / Political Conflict and Stability / The Growth of Government / Governmental Bureaucracies: Their Expansion and Transformation
    Political Globalization and the Challenge to the New World Order?

    12. Industrial Societies: Social Stratification
    Stratification in Industrial Societies
    Political Stratification / The Distribution of Income / The Distribution of Wealth / Occupational Stratification / Educational Stratification / Racial and Ethnic Stratification / Age and Sex Stratification
    Vertical Mobility
    Social Inequality: Two Basic Trends

    13. Industrial Societies: Population, the Family, and Leisure
    Growth in Size of Societies / Trends in Health and Longevity / Declining Birthrates and Increasing Immigration / Population Distribution: The Growth of Urban Populations
    The Family
    Changing Structure of Households and Families/ Changing Functions of the Family / Causes of Change in the Family / The Nuclear Family in Industrial Societies / The Changing Role of Women / The Changing Role of Youth /The Generation Gap
    Leisure and the Arts
    Problems and Progress
    Industrial Societies in Theoretical Perspective

    14. Industrializing Hybrid Societies
    Two Types of Industrializing Societies
    Economies and Population Growth
    Polities and Conflicts
    Social Stratification
    The Status of Women
    Industrializing Societies in Theoretical Perspective
    Excursus: Marxist Societies as Natural Experiments

    15. Retrospect and Prospect
    Looking Back
    The Divergent Path / The Question of Progress
    Looking Ahead
    Population / Natural Resources and the Biophysical Environment / Technology / Ideology / Polity / Economy / The World System / The Higher Goals

    Photo and Art Credits
    About the Authors

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