Preindustrial Societies: Hunter-Gatherers and Horticulturalists
In order for their members to survive, all societies obviously must develop technology and establish some form of economic life. Technology and economy are very closely related in every society but are by no means the same thing. A society’s technology consists of the tools, techniques, and knowledge that its members have created in order to meet their needs and wants. A society’s economy, on the other hand, consists of the socially organized way in which goods and services are produced and distributed. This chapter discusses the evolution of preindustrial forms of technology, conceived here as subsistence technology, or the technology directly related to the getting of a living, as well as the types of political economy that correspond to these technological forms. We will look at five types of societies arranged in a general evolutionary order: hunter-gatherer, simple horticultural, intensive horticultural, agrarian or intensive agricultural, and pastoral societies. At the end of the chapter we will discuss the reasons one type of society has replaced another in the evolutionary history of the human species.