Lenski’s levels of socio-cultural explain the changes in cultural ideas which are caused by new technology. There are four levels of development: hunting and gathering, horticulture and pastoralism, agriculture, and industry.
The first level of development is hunting and gathering. Hunting and gathering is the use of simple tools to hunt animals and gather vegetation. Some benefits of this stage could be that they all did basically the same thing, therefore, more equality in their society. They also lived in small groups instead of large communities, so they were more socially intertwined. Some of the negatives where having to move a lot to follow migrating animals and finding food when their supply ran out. Another is that they were extremely vulnerable to natural disasters. With all members doing these tasks, there wasn’t much time for other things.
The second level is horticulture and pastoralism. Horticulture is the use of hand tools to raise crops, and, pastoralism is the domestication of animals. The positives of this stage include being able to feed more which led to larger settlements. Also they were able to stay in the same place if they did both of these things. Some of the drawbacks were that rulers started coming into play. Also, they had to find good soil to plant crops. If their society depended basically on pastoralism they tended to be nomadic.
The third level is agriculture. Agriculture involved large-scale cultivation using plows harnessed to animals or more powerful energy sources. Some of the positives of this stage include less human labor and large food surpluses. This also led to more work choices and time for some to study and cultivate a refined way of life. Some of the negatives included a more impersonal and individualistic social life. This caused more social inequality and caused there to be a few elite and many serfs. Men also started gaining more power over women.
The fourth level is industry. Industry involved the production of goods using advanced sources of energy to drive large machinery. There were many benefits and negatives to this stage. Some of the benefits include a lot less human labor which in turn boosted productivity. There also became much more transportation, communication, and schooling. This started more personal freedom, political rights, and less inequality. The living standards also increased in this stage, which spurred advanced medical care. Some of the drawbacks were the large factories where people were supervised by strangers. Also many cultural values surrounding family-centered life were pushed aside, which weakened the community. We also started to abuse the natural environment and created more weapons.
These stages led to major changes in the way of human life. There were many benefits and drawbacks to each stage. We can learn many things by seeing the way things have changed and by studying our history.