What are traditional societies


Traditional (or traditional) society (outdated premodern society) is ...

  1. a term for older sociological theories for a form of society that is seen as the forerunner of modern or modernized society. Assuming that societies continue to develop (socio-cultural evolution), labeled traditional society the stage of a society before or from which a modern society is formed (see also the terms modern and premodern). Correspondingly, traditional societies can be clearly distinguished in various aspects - for example from modern industrial societies - but they mostly have similarities with one another.[1]
  2. a term in recent literature that is used as a synonym for the derogatory term natural people. The ethnologist Klaus E. Müller provides the following definition:

“The term is understood to mean [...] camp and village communities in wild and armed forces, agrarian and nomadic pastoral cultures, which at the time of their research had not, or only barely, come into contact with modern industrial civilizations. Their lives proceeded strictly within the framework of the ancestral traditions (hence the term "traditional society"), which were sanctified by the example of their ancestors and sanctioned by creation and were therefore considered inviolable. "

Table of Contents

Cultural change

Today traditional society is no longer viewed as a lower stage of development, but as an independent cultural reaction to the respective living conditions. As soon as traditional societies are confronted with a modernized culture, a cultural change is initiated in an entirely new direction. If the contact is permanent and intensive, acculturation (adaptation process) occurs.[3][4] The mostly enormous cultural distance to the “hot, progressive believing, civilized” societies, which in most cases are perceived as extremely powerful and dominant, leads to an increasing assimilation towards the abandonment of traditions; even if there is no suppression or aggressive transculturation by the new rulers. Such accelerated change usually creates a traumatic culture shock in the "cold, conservative, value-conservative" societies with far-reaching negative consequences:[5][6]

If people succeed in incorporating new cultural elements into their traditions in a beneficial and harmonious way and finding their own, accepted way of modernization that does not damage the traditional structures and preserves the ethnic identity, one speaks of Indigenization. Former "primitive peoples", who have already largely been assimilated, sometimes reactivate old traditions. If this happens out of necessity (for example through the return to subsistence farming due to the lack of alternatives as with the reindeer herders of Siberia or some Australian Aborigines), this is called Retraditionalization designated. Specifically organized revivals of traditions in a new direction and form, which on the one hand is compatible with the modern world and on the other hand enhances certain areas of the former way of life and identity, are called Re-indigenization.

Modernization theories

The term Traditional society belonged to the context of differentiation and modernization theories until the second third of the 20th century. They looked at what changes industrialization - in particular the change in the mode of production towards the division of labor - has or had on society.

Two-phase models

Talcott Parsons

Talcott Parsons' pattern of pattern variables juxtaposes several indicators of traditional society and modern society.

Emile Durkheim

Émile Durkheim differentiates the various societies according to mechanical and organic solidarity.

Ferdinand Tönnies

Ferdinand Tönnies described in his work Spirit of the modern age (1935) the path from traditional medieval to modern society as the mental path from a predominantly "communal" to a predominantly "social" culture (cf. community and society).

Henry Sumner Maine

Henry Sumner Maine speaks of the development from status to contract.

Multi-phase models

Walt Whitman Rostov

In 1960, the American economist Walt Whitman Rostow (1916-2003) distinguished the following social stages in his stage theory:

  1. traditional society
  2. Creation of the conditions for economic advancement
  3. economic rise
  4. Development to maturity
  5. Age of mass consumption

For the post-consumer era, Rostov envisioned a “better, more ideal” society.


Historical materialism (Marxism) also assumes a general development of society, from an original to the final state of communism:

  1. Primitive society
  2. Slavery society
  3. feudalism
  4. capitalism
  5. socialism
  6. communism

Legal recognition

In Brazil, "traditional peoples and communities" have been legally recognized since Decree 6040 of February 7, 2007. This makes Brazil the first state of traditional communities to be declared a legal subject. This legal recognition was preceded by the political struggle of the internationally known activist and rubber tapper Chico Mendes. Even before the decree, indigenous peoples and quilombolas had special rights that were laid down in the constitution.[7]

See also


Individual evidence

  1. ↑ Johannes Angermüller: Macrosociology according to the modern age. From society to the social. In: Berliner Debatte Initial. 22 (4): pp. 12-25. doc version at www.johannes-angermuller.net P. 6.
  2. ↑ Klaus E. Müller: Shamanism. Healers, spirits, rituals. 4th edition, C. H. Beck, Munich 2010 (original edition 1997), ISBN 978-3-406-41872-3. P. 11.
  3. ↑ Heiko Schrader: Development Sociology - A Definition of Terms. Otto von Guericke University, Magdeburg 2008. ISSN 1615-8229. P. 5.
  4. ↑ Bettina Eckl and David Prüm: Introduction to Developing Countries Studies, Part III: Development Strategies. Chapter 31: Development Theories.University of the Media, Stuttgart 1998/99.
  5. ^ Walter Hirschberg (founder), Wolfgang Müller (editor): Dictionary of Ethnology. New edition, 2nd edition, Reimer, Berlin 2005. p. 34.
  6. ↑ Raul Páramo-Orgega: The trauma that unites us. Thoughts on the Conquista and Latin American identity. In: Psychoanalysis - texts on social research. 8th year, issue 2, Leipzig 2004, pp. 89–113.
  7. ↑ Dieter Gawora: Strategic Groups for Sustainable Development In: Brasilicum 238/239, Freiburg 2015, ISSN 2199-7594 Pp. 4-7.

Categories:Social model | tradition

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