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The Sociocultural Evolution Model of Gerhard Lenski

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According to Gerhard Lenski's sociocultural evolution model, societies developed in response to changes in their social and natural environments. There are two forms of adaptation: invention and extinction. Lenski explained five forms of institutions and how they developed technologically in this theory. We will look at how technology has affected these cultures in this paper.
Hunting and Gathering Societies are a form of hunting and gathering society.
Hunting and gathering societies are societies that hunted and gathered with simple tools. Hunting and gathering cultures were nomadic peoples who lived off the forest. They were also reliant on one another to survive. Human beings were hunters and gatherers until 12,000 years ago, ever after the human race emerged over 3 million years ago. There are very few remains of these societies and these includes Pygmies and Aka of central Africa, The Aborigines in Australia, and the Bushmen in Southwestern Africa. (Macionis, 2013).

Horticultural and Pastoral Societies

At around 3000BC, these societies were more prevalent and technological advancement allowed them to establish permanent settlements since they were able to practice crop planting which offered enough food for their survival. They also practiced horticulture; as a result, they could settle at one place. As they settled into a single location, the idea of pastoralism emerged, and they could domesticate animals. With crop planting and domestication of animals, the group had enough food to eat thus they could no longer hunt and gather. Technology continued to evolve, and animal drawn plows were invented to help the society (Macionis, 2013).

Agrarian Societies

The invention of drawn plows gave rise to agrarian societies at approximately 5, 000 years ago. The use of animal in land plowing eased the work of the society because they were able to plow a large piece of land in the shortest time as opposed to people (Macionis, 2013). The communities continued to evolve technology wise, and as a result, irrigation was invented followed by the wheel that facilitated the transportation of people and produced goods. Later, writing, number, and metals were all brought into existence in a period known as "the dawn of civilization."

Industrial Societies

At around 1750, industrialism in goods production came into existence by the aid of technological advancement. Before the emergence of industrial societies, man muscles were the primary source of power. The sources of energy that drove machines were invented allowing people to use water and steam power to drive heavy machines. Those privileged to use these type of machines produced more goods than others. In the wake of 1900s, skyscrapers, steam powered ships, and railroads came to existence. This bold step transformed the lives of people for the better. The introduction of this society allowed people to alter the appearance of their environment. Later, the introduction of the automobile changed the lives of many for good.

Postindustrial Society

Postindustrial society is our present society. Postindustrialism refers to a generation where information is produced using computer based technologies. In this society, less labor is used in industrial production. The invention of computers and internet have changed the direction of lives because we can communicate globally and work is done anywhere in the world. We can buy and sell products at a lower price than manufacturing by ourselves (Macionis, 2013).


The Sociocultural evolution model by Gerhard Lenski acts as a road map to societal evolutions that has since changed the lives of humanity and societies at large. Today, technology has become the cornerstone of all human activities.


Macionis, J. (2013). Sociology (15th Ed.). Harlow, England: Pearson.

December 15, 2021


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