By the end of this section, you will be able to:
- Describe the difference between preindustrial, industrial, and postindustrial societies
- Understand the role of environment on preindustrial societies
- Understand how technology impacts societal development
Hunting and gathering tribes, industrialized Japan, Americans—each is a society. But what does this mean? Exactly what is a society? In sociological terms, society refers to a group of people who live in a definable community and share the same culture. On a broader scale, society consists of the people and institutions around us, our shared beliefs, and our cultural ideas. Typically, more-advanced societies also share a political authority.
Sociologist Gerhard Lenski (1924–) defined societies in terms of their technological sophistication. As a society advances, so does its use of technology. Societies with rudimentary technology depend on the fluctuations of their