7 junio, 2024

Human society: what it is, characteristics, functions, types

We explain what society is, its functions, its origin, characteristics and types that exist.

What is human society?

The human society It is the group of individuals who work together and are governed by a series of rules and behaviors; In animal societies, instinct can take precedence, and in humans, cultural factors.

For thinkers like Theodor W. Adorno, society is more a process than a fixed concept, which involves approaching it in a dynamic way, studying its evolution. Examples of human society can be ancient Roman, Chinese, Japanese or American society.

The human species arose about 300,000 years ago, but it is likely that primates already existed organized in small groups, in species that preceded the Homo sapiens long before, with a history that goes back more than two million years.

Functions of the company

The functions of society They are aimed at guaranteeing the survival and progress of individuals. Some of the most important are:

EITHERrorganize people and their actions in such a way that they are guaranteed food, shelter and protection.
Socialization of children, so that they learn norms and values. Control behaviors of people who act against the benefits of the group (social control).
Preservation of order, protect the life and property of individuals.
Division of labour. Generation and distribution of services and material goods. Preservation and transmission of culture, customs and traditions.

Shaping of human society

Humans more than 70,000 years ago were likely closer to chimpanzee and gorilla societies than to today’s highly culturally complex societies, although they enjoyed a number of evolutionary advantages, including a larger brain, complex language, and to make tools, and use fire.

Small groups of hunters and gatherers, united by blood ties, may have related to other groups to plan hunting and fishing activities, or to confront other human groups that competed for the same resources.

These alliances would grow stronger over time by exchanging products, developing a common language, sharing beliefs, and establishing alliances through marriages or other kinds of agreements.

With the appearance of agriculture, the emergence of the first cities and the appearance of religions, societies would become increasingly complex, just as they are today, all over the world.

Characteristics of human society

All human societies share a number of characteristics in common.


Societies are groups of human beings, which can range from a few tens to hundreds of millions of people. They are groups that go beyond kinship ties.


Initially, human societies can be contained and determined by a geographical space, a territory that can range from a valley to an entire country.


Humans come together and create societies to achieve goals that would be unattainable if they acted alone. Child rearing, food distribution, farm work, and other activities are only possible when members of a society cooperate with each other.


Their language, customs, beliefs, traditions, history, objects, technologies, etc. are part of the culture of a society.

Culture implies immaterial values ​​that unite societies: a shared history, myths and beliefs, cultural expressions such as music, literature, plastic arts, cinema, etc.

political structure

In societies there are usually power relations, individuals or groups that determine where a certain human group is headed.


As has been said over and over again, without ceasing to be true, the family is usually the minimum fundamental unit of a society. The individual begins the socialization process by interacting with his parents, siblings and other relatives.


The way in which a society subsists is part of the economy: hunting and fishing, agriculture, mining, technological production, etc.

Social relationships

The societies share codes and conventions to facilitate relations between their members: protocols and ways of establishing contact in the different spaces of public and private interaction.

In turn, these societies may be stratified into classes, castes, or other systems of privilege, based on cultural, political, or economic values.

socialization spaces

Almost all societies create conditions and spaces for social interaction and socialization, such as educational institutions, places of recreation, games and sports.

Individual and human society

For some psychologists, sociologists and philosophers, individual human consciousness is only possible thanks to social interaction. For the development of the self, the individual needs to be part of a community.

Types of human societies

Human beings have developed various types of societies throughout history. Sociologists have classified the different classes into six categories:

hunting and gathering societies

They are groups of people who depend mainly on wild foods for their subsistence. Until about 12,000 to 11,000 years ago, when agriculture and animal domestication arose in Southwest Asia and Mesoamerica, all peoples were hunter-gatherers.

Prehistoric hunter-gatherers often lived in groups of a few dozen people, made up of several family units. They developed tools and depended on the abundance of food in the area, if they could not find food, they would move to another area.

pastoral societies

A pastoral society is a social group of pastoralists, whose way of life is based on herding and is normally nomadic. Daily life is focused on tending the herds.

Desert areas or climates where farming is difficult are pastoral societies that have existed for hundreds of years. Since they could not farm, they depended on meat and dairy products from their herds.

horticultural societies

Horticultural societies developed around 7000 BC in the Middle East and gradually spread west through Europe and Africa, and east through Asia.

In a horticultural society people subsist by growing plants for food consumption, without the use of mechanized tools or the use of animals.

agricultural societies

In an agricultural society, the economy is based on producing and maintaining crops and agricultural land, using mechanized tools and animals. People lead a more sedentary lifestyle than those in nomadic hunter-gatherer or semi-nomadic pastoralist societies, because they live permanently close to cultivated land.

The first civilizations based on complex and productive agriculture developed on the alluvium of the Tigris, Euphrates and Nile rivers.

industrial societies

In an industrial society, mass production technologies are used to manufacture large quantities of products in factories.

Industrial society used external energy sources, such as fossil fuels, to increase the speed and scale of production, decreasing the human labor required.

post-industrial societies

Post-industrial society is the stage of development of society in which the service sector generates more wealth than the manufacturing sector of the economy.

This society is marked by the transition from a manufacturing-based economy to a service-based economy, a transition that is also connected with social restructuring.

There is a replacement of manual workers with technical and professional workers, such as computer engineers, doctors and bankers. Also I know replaces practical knowledge with theoretical knowledge.


The society. Taken from academia.edu.
The definition of human nature. Taken from books.google.com.
The evolution of cooperation and the origin of human society. Taken from uab.cat.

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