“Only when the last tree has been cut down, the last river has been poisoned, and the last fish has been caught, will we realize that we cannot eat money” – Plains Sioux Native American
Society alludes to set of people; who live respectively in a community, where they share same culture, norms, values, and beliefs. Societies have been categorized accordingly to their different stages of industrialization by sociologist (Little, 2019). Emile Durkheim explicates society’s involvement and its function through social norms and values. According Durkheim social solidarity holds the society together, whereas hunting-gathering societies had different kind of social solidarity than modern consumer societies. Mechanical solidarity exists in Hunting -gathering society because it’s tie together by homogeneity; Individuals in hunting-gathering society almost have similar skills sets, similar responsibilities, such as both hunting-gathering are practiced, men usually hunt and women and their children collect stationary food (Britannica, 2019). Because of homogeneity, hunters-gathers are connected as society, as a result that’s one of the motives hunters-gathers content with few possessions of goods. According to Durkheim, modern societies have organic solidarity, and people in modern consumer society are tie together by heterogeneity and the explanation for such phenomena is every person in modern consumer society has different sets of skill, different valves, norm, culture, and each person is dependent on others, which leads to high division of labor, most likely how individuals in modern consumer society connect with each other (Edfinity, 2019). This essay will discuss why hunters-gatherers societies are happy with less possession of goods, while talking about nature, culture of a hunting-gathering society and the modern consumer society.
People didn’t always live in cities before; they began as nomadic tribes searching for food. Hunters-gatherers societies established the framework of modern consumer society, throughout the Paleolithic Era; hunters-gatherers went through their days rummaging food and hunting animals, these methods for acquiring sustenance prompted the essential culture structure we do nowadays (Edwards, 2019). Goods were surely differently perceived in hunting-gathering societies than they are perceived comprehended today in modern consumer societies. It was predominantly because of various reasons including hunting-gatherers perception of material things, differences within economic activities, division of work, way of life, food collecting activities, and their relationship with the ecosystem. All these aspects have been explained below with relevant examples and readings. Sahlins, (1972) simplify that the original affluent society was the hunters-gatherers and to distinguish that, one must understand the current human circumstances; the black-hole of human’s unlimited wants. Sahlin, discuss the Zen road to affluence, which means humans material wants are few, which describes the hunters-gatherers very well. As indicated by Sahlins, hunters-gatherers to great extend were easygoing of material possessions since all of them were extremely enslaved by food hunt requiring most efficiency from a greater number of individuals, with the goal that time no time or effort remain for the arrangement of different solaces. A few ethnographers vouch to the contrary that the food hunt is so thriving that half of the time the general population appears not to realize how to manage themselves. Then again, development is a state of this achievement, more development at time than others; however in every case enough to quickly devalue the fulfillment’s of goods. In the state of hunters-gatherers society, possessions of goods are burden. Goods can be shockingly harsh (Sahlins, 1972). These points out those material goods hunter-gatherers require are restricted and sufficient; the methods for fulfilling their wants and needs are moderately fixed as the strategies to get them are manageable and compelling and Sahlins, (1972) refers to this as material plenty. Hunters-gatherers “had no sense of possession (Sahlins),” therefore they were free of material goods, had no feelings of ownership, demonstrate an undeveloped feeling of belongings, and are absolutely not interested in any material goods, this leads to what Sahlin stance for which he mentions that the whole concept of not being interested in goods manifest a lack of interest in developing their technological equipments. It is not that hunters-gatherers have checked their materialistic motivation; they simply never made a foundation of them, exactly what people in modern consumer societies do today. Thus, it is unfair to judge hunter-gatherer societies by modern standards, and speculate that they had the same wants as modern consumer societies. Hunters-gatherers labor less then modern consumer society; the food hunt is irregular, plentiful free time and gets vast period for nap during the daytime compare to modern consumer society (Sahlins, 1972).
People in hunters-gatherers society were mostly equal footing, meaning having the same rights or conditions for everyone. On the other hand it is incorrect to mention that hunters-gatherers have no formation of ownership for the goods. The comparison of small goods such as bag pack in the modern consumer society could’ve been integrated with hunters-gatherers usual way of life, which would remained them from moving around with other possessions of goods. Most of the hunters-gatherers societies were nomadic individuals; they moved all the time and did not have any permanents storage place. Nomadic people did not farm for food; but they traded goods as they travel, trading was really important part of hunters-gatherers, and they would exchange resources such stone tools, food, and clothes (Muscato, 2019). For example the Mbuti in Central Africa trade honey for various goods with Bantu villagers. Hunter-gatherers will often also maintain strong social ties with each other. This is because if one group is in a bit of trouble due to a lack of food, they need to be able to rely on others, with the expectation that this will be reciprocated should the need arise. Moreover, trades were very important part hunters-gatherers, since not all resources were available. These relationships stated on a ritual or spiritual basis (Hart, 2010). That’s the motives of hunters-gatherers societies to be content with few possessions, it’s not part of their conscious state of mind to gather resources because wealth is known to be seem as burden to the hunters-gatherers. Egalitarianism (social equality), is part hunters-gatherers society because they believe in sharing and conflict among them is base on feeling of resentment rather than economic benefits. Hunters-gatherers societies shared their goods with other individuals as mutual understanding; for example meet from hunting, subsequently, hunters-gatherers can be depicted as “gift economy” (Kiefer, 2002). Gift giving was to promote friendship in hunters-gatherers societies, for example the Ju/’hoansi, their gift giving system is known as hxaro. In the Ju/’hoan society adult individual have estimate of 20 haxro partner. The majority of them live in other far away from each other, every individual voyage routinely, by walking to visit their hxaro partners and present them with gifts. However, they made sure it doesn’t look like trade or exchange of goods. Gift giving in this society is seen as spirit of kinship, not as trade or owed to the next. Hxaro partners are said Ju/’honasi to “hold each in their hearts” (Wiessner, 1996). This resulted in peace between hunter-gatherer societies, hence facilitating marriage between individuals of different hunters-gatherers tribe, which helped in preventing, inbreeds. Although that was not the real motive for most of the gift giving visit, the actual intentions were to experience the joys that originated from visiting old friends. Gifting shapes a particular “sphere of exchange” that can be portrayed as “economic system” and the character of the social relationship that the gift trade establishes (Revolvy, 2019).
Sahlins expressed that hunters-gatherers needs are commonly effectively fulfilled. Such “material plenty” depends upon the innovation and democracy. Goods are homespun; of stone, bone, wood, skins are lay in abundance around them, Access to natural assets is ordinarily immediate “free for anybody to take” for example Native American in the Great Lakes region, still take part in specialty to advance the development of specific food, for instance berries. That is why it’s wrong to describe hunters-gathers as economic aspect of static. The hunting-gathering society mange their economy by applying of advance progress in certain food was known as “low level food production”, which include producing food but not by domesticating crops and animals. Hunters-gatherers are not principally food producer. This concludes, the division between hunters- gatherers and farmers is not huge. Thus, hunters-gatherers might not produce food in expansive amount, yet they frequently engage in overall of the nature, for example the hunting-gathering tribes in Amazon might have gather most of the crops and consume them but they also throw out the seeds, which creates a perfect opportunity for the establishment of food stock in the coming future. In hunters-gatherers condition of life, goods can be “grievously oppressive”. The more they hunt-gather, the more they have to carry around, almost everything seemed likely to make life more difficult for them by adding to the litter and weight of their daily life. There was nothing that they could not bring together in one minute, for example “wrap up their blankets and carry on their shoulders for journey of thousand miles” (Sahlins, 1972). They would consume all at once, their economic tendency may more constantly establish on abundance then modern market economy.
Modern consumer society is where individuals buy possessions of goods and services. The increasing prosperity within numerous division of world has prompt to the rise of “consumer society,” where development of consumer possessions of goods and services grows. The idea of rich figures has globally been famed, rich figures such as celebrities are motives for consumption of goods and services. Consumers’ choices are observe as self manifestation of freedom for example happiness can be accomplish through expenditure. Advertising, marketing, and branding are use to control modern consumer societies, for example famous celebrity Justin Bieber have advert for Calvin Klein brand, this gives consumer natural desire to purchase such goods that are appealing to be high in value. The purpose for propagation such merchandise is to symbolize mass showcasing procedure of advertisers of modern consumer society. Natural resources are used such as, Fuel, Water, Iron, and Wood for consumption of manufacturing cars, paper, etc, and so leading on to producing toxic chemical, destroying the human body and environment. The man-made toxic chemical exposure to human body has lead variety of health problem including cancer, which is the one of leading cause of death globally. Modern consumers’ societies have over consumed food, such ice cream. Europeans spend 11 billion on ice cream and the effect of consumerism on individuals in this case would lead to obesity and from that it would lead to health problems (Tumble, 2016). The food wastage, because food is not shaped in the correct way, size, and it is consider defective. However in hunters-gatherers society this would still be consider as food as they hunt-farm for survival, but in the modern consumer society this would not be used because it does not have the kind of quality or standard that needs to be upheld, such as Americans throw away almost as much food as they eat because of a “cult of perfection”, “It’s all about blemish-free produce,” says Jay Johnson, who ships fresh fruit and vegetables from North Carolina and central Florida. This ‘cult’, then, speaks to how modern consumer societies view goods, never content and always striving for better. “What happens in our business today is that it is either perfect, or it gets rejected” (Goldenberg, 2016). Currency, everything in modern consumer society has a monetary value. While in the hunter-gatherers first they hunted/ farmed for self-subsistence, evolving to barter system and eventually leading to the current economy’s monetary system where a value is placed on each product and a currency is used that has essentially no value in itself example, paper currency. But still is used to fulfill our endless wants, that has propagated more so because of the social media and the so-called influencers, for instance famous celebrity Kim Kardashian and other Youtube influencers. Where they show us that we have to look a certain way, act a certain way, dress a certain and eat a certain way to be accepted by society. While in the hunter gathering society it encircled around the term “survival” while the current economy is rooted in “materialism”.
Wealth, in modern consumer society is social status, whereas wealth in hunters-gatherers is a burden, because they only possess what they can comfortably carry themselves. Most of the time, woman are left to carry their possession as the men are free in case of a sudden opportunity to chase or necessity to defend themselves. Although in modern consumer society wealth is propagated so much that just to feel accepted people would rather face jail time, for example Anna Delvey, “facing 15 years behind bars because she managed to fool some of the world’s top influencers and scam them into funding her luxurious lifestyle” (Foster, 2018). In modern consumer society women wearing fancy dress or makeup is seen as social status as for display of wealth through dress became normal in Europe, dress was equipped for signifying ones way of life, respectability, economic status, thus it turned into an incredible asset to negotiate (Medvedev, 2019). Regardless of better overall system, way of life as hunters-gatherers is a lot better than in then in modern consumer society because hunters-gatherers way of life is simple and better diet. Modern consumer society’s individuals prefer the materialistic goods. Modern societies no longer obtain meals through foraging, but by simply driving to the closest supermarket.
Sahlins is correct in his statement that hunting-gathering societies are the ‘original affluence society’, and their lack of goods is not a ‘misfortune’, but simply a different approach to living than that of modern consumer societies. Hunting-gathering societies were happily content with little as they live by the ‘Zen’ approach to affluence, something foreign to modern consumers. We should not judge this approach by modern standards. Unlike modern consumer societies, hunting-gathering societies were built on the notion of sharing, without formal exchange or reciprocity. Modern consumer societies are rooted in the idea of materialism, rather than ‘survival’, as is approached by hunting-gathering societies. Where in modern consumerism, wealth is measured in a monetary value and expressed by the number of goods a person owns, whereas in hunting-gathering society this notion is not present. A major difference in the perception of goods between these societies is that hunting-gathering societies view goods as a burden, and not related to wealth or affluence. Therefore, this essay concludes that there are vast differences in the perception of goods by both societies, as such; it is true that hunting-gathering societies were truly content with their lack of material goods, and are the original affluent society.
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