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RE: [LandCafe] Re: From Hunting & Gathering to Horticulture: What Role did Land Play?

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  • Edward Dodson
    Jason, you wrote: Let me pose this question instead: Do you believe that land scarcity may have played a significant role in the transition from mobile
    Message 1 of 6 , Apr 17, 2010
      Jason, you wrote:

      Let me pose this question instead: Do you believe that land scarcity may
      have played a significant role in the transition from "mobile societies",
      (i.e., hunter-gatherer bands, which were the types of societies that humans
      lived in for the vast majority of our existence), to "settled societies"?

      Ed here:
      What we know about prehistoric human groups is that productivity increases
      occurred very very slowly. With stagnant technologies, groups will
      eventually run up against the limits of their traditional territory to
      support them. So, they would migrate, often dividing into several smaller
      groups based on family associations or clans or confidence in certain
      leaders. A consistent reason why groups eventually stop migrating is that
      they find themselves competing with other groups for territory and
      resources. Settlement requires rules for allocating what are by definition
      scarce resources.
    • Edward Dodson
      Jock Coates wrote: I wonder if you re approaching this from the wrong angle. Whilst I haven t yet managed to read The Economy of Cities by Jane Jacobs maybe
      Message 2 of 6 , Apr 17, 2010
        Jock Coates wrote:

        I wonder if you're approaching this from the wrong angle. Whilst I haven't
        yet managed to read "The Economy of Cities" by Jane Jacobs maybe what you
        have to look at is what made settled life possible in the first place.

        And actually, I think you will find it is not a scarcity of land so much as
        the discovery of ways of using land efficiently. Same goes for Ed's feeling
        that protection is important.

        Ed Dodson here:
        A book I found very useful in my own research on the evolution of human
        groups and settlement was written in 1966 by Gerhard Lenski. Here is a brief
        summary of Lenski's approach that comes from Wikipedia:

        In his books, Power and Privilege[1] (1966) and Human Societies: An
        Introduction to Macrosociology[2] (1974-2008) Lenski expands on the works of
        Leslie White and Lewis Henry Morgan. He views technological progress as the
        most basic factor in the evolution of societies and cultures. Unlike White,
        who defined technology as the ability to create and utilize energy, Lenski
        focuses on information - its amount and uses. The more information and
        knowledge a given society has, especially where it allows humans to shape
        their environment, the more advanced it is. He distinguishes four stages of
        human development, based on advances in the history of communication. In the
        first stage, information is passed by genes. With the development of
        agriculture, humans are able to pass information through individual
        experience. In the third, humans begin to use signs and develop logic. In
        the fourth, they create symbols, and develop language and writing. Advances
        in the technology of communication translate into advances in a society's
        economic system and political system, distribution of goods, social
        inequality and other spheres of social life. He also differentiates
        societies based on their level of technology, communication and economy:

        hunters and gatherers
        simple agricultural or horticultural (lacking the plow)
        advanced agricultural
        special (e.g. fishing societies or maritime societies)

        The relationship between population and production is central to Lenski's
        thought. Human reproductive capacity exceeds the available resources in the
        environment. Thus, Lenski concludes, human populations are limited by their
        capability of food production. Human capacity for population growth,
        according to Laski has been a "profoundly destabilizing force throughout
        human history and may well be the ultimate source of most social and
        cultural change" (1987: 32). It is the relationships among population,
        production, and environment that drive sociocultural evolution.[3]
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