We can identify six types of societies by focusing on the dominant form of work in a society or subsistence adaptation. In hunting and gathering societies, people live by hunting wild animals using primitive weapons and gathering food as it grows naturally.Herding or pastoral, societies often arise in areas with poor soil and rely on the domestication of animals into herds as a major means of support, linked with either hunting and gathering or other technology. The semi permanent horticulture produces its food through cultivation of the soil with hand tools and is more common in areas with fertile soil which is exhausted within three to five years. Agricultural societies employ animal-drawn plows to cultivate the land and often combine this with irrigation to increase productivity. In industrial societies the largest portion of the labor force is involved in mechanized production of goods and services.
Social structure is the enduring patterns of social behavior including statuses, roles, norms and institutions that constitute relatively stable relations in society. A status is a position in a particular social pattern. A role includes the behavior that goes with but is distinct from the status.
Status is either conferred independently of the individual's efforts or abilities (ascribed) or attained through effort or performance (achieved).
A status intervention is an attempt to diminish the influence of an undesirable status characteristic. Research shows that groups will discount the input of persons with low status characteristics and be overly positive toward the input of persons with high status characteristics even if the status has nothing to do with the task of the group at the time. People of low status can be taught to be assertive in their own realm by learning that people of higher status do not necessarily know more about everything.
In a post industrial society, increasingly sophisticated virtually automatic machines take over much unskilled work and the majority of the labor force becomes employed in service occupations. Government becomes more involved in realms that were previously dominated by the other institutions of so ciety: family, religion, education and the economy. This form of society might be thought of as a service society or an information based society.
According to Durkheim, pre-modern societies are held together by mechanical solidarity or bonds of common activities and values as opposed to modern societies that are held together by organic solidarity or bonds based on interdependence.Tonnies used the labels Gemeinschalf or community and Gesellschalf or association to describe similar differences. Modern societies have more complexity in occupational structure, more formal relationships, and more reliance on nonfamily institutions and less reliance on custom to regulate behavior.
Conflict is the process in which the parties struggle against one another for a commonly prized object for example wars and feuds. Coercion is a process of being forced to act against one's will, as in slavery. Similar to coercion is exploitation a process in which one is deprived of things that one rightfully is due- for instance when migrant workers are not paid their full wages due to inability to function well and cheating occurs on the part of the produce c ompany.Competition involves two or more parties seeking a goal that is not available to them all- for instance getting a contract to build a bank. Cooperation is a social process in which the parties involved act jointly to bring about mutual benefit, either as a result of traditional values, direction of an authority figure or a contract.
Structural-functionalists assume that cooperation is part of the nature of society and they look for ways in which the structure functions to maintain society. Conflict theorists assume that conflict is intrinsic to society and examine society for signs of conflict, coercion and exploitation.