The term ‘society ’is the most fundamental one in sociology. Society is a web of social relationship and networking between individuals. Society refers to the people who interact in a specific territory and share culture based on limited social norms and values.

The term ‘society’ is derived from the Latin word’ socius’, which means companionship or friendship. Companionship means sociability.

As George Simmel pointed out, it is this element of sociability which defines the true essence of society. It indicates that man always lives in the company of other people. Man needs society for his living, working and enjoying life. Society has become an essential condition for human life to arise and to continue. Human life and society always go together.

According to MacIver, Society is “a web of social relationship.”

According to Giddings “ Society is the union itself, the organization, the sum of formal relations in which associating individuals are bound together”.                 

Characteristics/ Nature of Society

  • Society consists of people.
  • Mutual interaction and Mutual awareness.
  • Society depends on Likeness.
  • Society rests on difference too.
  • Co-operation and Division of labor.
  • Society implies Interdependence also.
  • Society is dynamic.
  • Social control.
  • Cultural identity.

Fundamental Factors of Society

  • Individuals
  • Mutual Interaction and Co-operation
  • Social Norms and Values
  • Usages
  • Social Division
  • Social Control
  • Awareness

Types of  Society

Society refers to people who interact in a defined territory and share culture. Society makes our life livable. Sociologist Gerhad Lenski uses the term socio-cultural evolution to mean change that occurs as a society gain new technology. He points to the importance of technology in shaping any society. According to him there are five types of society:

  • Hunting and Gathering Societies:

(In the simplest of all societies, people live by hunting and gathering, making use of simple tools to hunt animals and gather vegetation for food.)

  • Horticultural and pastoral Societies:

(people develop the horticulture, the use of hand tools to raise crop and as they shifted to raising animals for food instead of hunting them)

  • Agrarian Societies:

Large scale cultivation using plows, harnessed to animal or more powerful energy sources.

  • Industrial Societies:

(Which developed first in Europe 250 years ago , use advanced sources of energy to drive large machinery)

  • Postindustrial Societies:

(Its represent the most recent stage of technology development, technology that supports information- based economy.)                                                     

Pre-industrial and Industrial Societies

Pre-industrial Society

It refers to specific social attributes and forms of political and cultural organization that were prevalent before the advent of the industrial revolution. It is a types of society in which food production- carried out through the use of human and animal labor-is the main economic activity. In pre-industrial societies activities are carried out within the home setting. Subdivisions of pre-industrial societies: Hunting and Gathering, Pastoral, Horticultural and Agricultural.

Industrial Society

An industrial society is one in which technologies of mass production are used to make vast amounts of goods in factories, and in which this is the dominant mode of production and organizer of social life.

Pre-Industrial Society                                           Industrial Society

  • Simple social structure                                                -Complex social structure
  • Life in the context of primary groups                         - Life in the context of secondary groups
  • Ascribe social status                                                    - Achieved social status
  • Homogeneous culture                                                - Heterogeneous Culture
  • Social control through informal means                      - Social control through formal means
  • Slow rates of social change                                        - Rapid rates of social change