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Preindustrial Societies


... organization: Neolithic Agricultural Revolution ca. ... Politics and Religion. Inseparable link between politics and religion and pre-industrial societies ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Preindustrial Societies

Pre-industrial Societies
  • What were settled, agrarian, complex societies,
    and why do they so interest historians?
  • How did life in pre-industrial societies differ
    from our lives today?
  • What were the main characteristics of
    pre-industrial societies?

The Agrarian Revolution
  • Two great revolutions in human economic and
    social organization Neolithic Agricultural
    Revolution ca. 10,000 B.C., and the Industrial
    Revolution of the 18th century.
  • Other forms of human organization
  • Hunter-gatherers
  • Transhumance
  • In this class we will see how the Industrial
    Revolution transformed human society

Characteristics of Agrarian P-I Societies
  • 90 of people farmed or herded
  • Agricultural yields relatively low
  • Surplus relatively small each family raised
    enough to feed itself, have enough seed for the
    next year, with a little left over
  • Wealth based on land and livestock
  • Social stratification not everyone in society

The State
  • A distinguishing feature of complex societies is
    the creation of a sophisticated political
    structure, the state
  • Limited resources meant limited government
  • Pre-industrial governments basically did two
  • Extracted surplus from peasants and redistributed
  • Took steps to keep itself in power
  • Raise armies
  • Maintain primitive administrative system

Tax Collecting in Medieval England
  • Peasant vs. Farmer
  • Forms of Peasantry
  • Freeholder
  • Serf
  • (Slave)
  • Landless laborer
  • The Peasant and the State

17th Century French Peasants
Late Medieval European Dwelling
  • Those who could obtain enough surplus to devote
    themselves to something besides farming or
  • The aristocrat as local strongman
  • Justice, the feud, and the aristocracy
  • Monopoly of violence
  • The Aristocratic Ethos

16th c. Persian Noble Hunting
The King
  • Most pre-industrial societies were monarchies
  • Ruling in societies with limited resources
  • Divine sanction
  • Elite-building

Qianlong, Emperor of China (r. 1736-1795)
  • Most pre-industrial societies saw the
    supernatural as both very dangerous and very
  • One function of the state was to maintain
    harmonious connection between the community and
    the world of the gods
  • Kings as guarantors of divine and earthly harmony

Muhammad with the other Prophets
Politics and Religion
  • Inseparable link between politics and religion
    and pre-industrial societies
  • One function of religion was to give legitimacy
    to the powers-that-were
  • Connections between ruler and gods differed among
    various societies, but they were always present
  • China Emperor was Son of Heaven and alone had
    the right to offer sacrifices to Tien (Heaven)
  • Christian kings of Europe ruled By Grace of God
  • Safavid Persia A King was the Shadow of God
  • Pre-industrial rulers generally claimed some kind
    of divine blood or other divine connection as
    proof that they were specially chosen to rule

St. Bartholomews Day Massacre, 1572

The Family
  • Virtually all p-I societies were patriarchal
  • The rights of women were usually limited in
    comparison with those of men
  • Marriage and Legitimacy
  • Women played a vital role in maintenance of home,
    and in peasant families their labor was
  • Fathers had extensive powers over their children,
    even those who were adults

Morning Coffee, 18th century France
  • Limited markets
  • Low status of merchants
  • Restrictions on buying and selling of land
  • Consumption vs. capitalism
  • Restrictions on freedom of labor

A Chinese Market
  • Compared to the societies of the industrial
    world, pre-industrial societies were very poor
  • Settled agrarian societies were socially
    stratified and patriarchal
  • Settled agrarian communities tended to be
  • The poverty of these communities seriously
    limited what governments could accomplish
  • Because their earthly powers of compulsion were
    limited, pre-industrial monarchs attached
    themselves with the divine, giving their kingdoms
    a foundation as much on religion as on their
    control over the apparatus of politics