Social Organization of Western Civilization Marriage, Family Life, Gender Relations, Economic Activity, and Population Distributions.

A civilization is a complex society, as distinguished from a simpler society. Throughout the course of life, many civilizations have grown and prospered through the use of their surroundings. Every society has a specific set of ideas and customs that make it unique. Civilizations have even more complicated cultures, including literature, art, architecture, organized religion, and complex customs linked with the elite. Civilization is such in nature that it seeks to spread, to have more, to expand, and it has the means by which to do this.

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During this course, I have learned the effects of social organization on a civilization through differences in marriage, family life, economic activity, and population distribution During the first parts of early civilization gender roles played a major part in people lives. Gender roles would greatly be tied to the family life that has changed dramatically throughout history. Urban life also redefined the role and status of women, who in the Neolithic period had enjoyed roughly the same roles and status as men.

In cities, women tended to exercise private authority over children and servants within the household, while men controlled the household and dealt with the wider world. Later Greek attitudes toward gender roles and sexuality were rigid. Women played no public role in the life of the community. From birth to death, every female citizen lived under the protection of a male guardian, either a close relative such as a father or brother, or a husband or son. Mature men took young boys as their lovers, helped to educate them, and inspired them by word and deed to grow into ideal warriors and citizens.

Also teachers such as Sappho of Lesbos, who was also a wife and a mother, formed similar bonds with their pupils, even while preparing them for marriage. In the Athenian way it was done like this, “I give this woman for the procreation of legitimate children. ” “I accept. ” “And [I give a certain amount as] dowry. ” “I am content. ” We can see that the marriage and family life during the early parts of civilization was very hierarchical. In the words of one Athenian male, “Hetairai we have for our pleasure, mistresses for the refreshment of our bodies, but wives to bear us legitimate children and to look after the house faithfully. (Pg 50). There are many other examples of how the women were under men’s authority. The Roman tradition, the paterfamilias was the master of the family, which in theory included his wife, children, and slave, over whom he exercised the power of life and death. This authority lasted as long as he lived. Only at his death did his sons, even if they were long grown and married, achieve legal and financial independence. The family was the basic unit of society, of the state. The wealthier one was made a dramatic difference in the marriage and family compared to one who was poor.

Expectations for daughters centered on their chances of marriage. For a girl, dowry was everything. If a girl’s father could provide a handsome one, her future was secure; if not, the alternatives were a convent, which would take a small bequest, or a match lower down the social scale, where the quality of life deteriorated rapidly. There were no love matches; it was more a business because women were not nearly as important to society as men were. Women were almost always in a stage of pregnancy.

Alessandra Strozzi, whose father married at the age 16, had 8 children within a 10-year period. Later on we can see a change during Hellenistic society the women’s roles start to change. Women began to assume a greater role in the family, in the economy, and in public life. Marriage contracts, particularly in Ptolemaic Egypt, emphasized the theoretical equality of husband and wife. The most powerful women in Hellenistic society were the queens, especially in Egypt, where the Ptolemys adopted the Egyptian tradition of royal marriages between the brothers and sisters.

As time passes by we can see how women become to be more influential. Noblewomen were among the most important defenders of Protestant reforms, especially in states in which the prince opposed it. Marguerite of Navarre (1492-1549), sister of Francis the I, frequently intervened with her brother on behalf of individual Lutherans who fell afoul of church authorities. She created her own court in the south of France and stocked it with both humanists and Protestants. From 1500-1650 hunger and cold were the constant companions of the average European.

Homes consisted of a few pieces of furniture such as a chest, which carried all the family belongings, maybe one bed, and chairs were still a luxury in the sixteenth century. Despite the way they lived women were becoming more influential and active in the workforce and politics. Women who were from the leading families would usually supervise other workforces. They began to have occupations such as nursing the sick. Slowly during the sixteenth century, status rather than wealth determined the social hierarchy.

In a different sense, we see how family starts to become a lineage, the connections between preceding and succeeding generations. The family was also an economic unit. It was the basic unit for the production, accumulation, and transmission of wealth. Every member of the household had his or her own functions that were essential to the survival of the unit. Tasks were divided by gender and age. On farms, women worked at nearly every occupation with the exception mowing and plowing. Finally, the family was the primary unit of social organization.

It was in the family that children were educated and the social values of hierarch and discipline were taught. Authority in the family was strictly organized in a set of three overlapping categories. At the top was the head that was the father who ruled over the wife, children, and the servants. They all owed obedience to the head. We can see that the life began to change for example a couple could have been engaged long before marriage. Marriage was now based on love rather than completely obedient and a slave to the male above her. So being single was not good thing weather male or female.

Single men were viewed as potential criminals and women as potential prostitutes. Economic activity and population distribution are strongly related to one another. The economic status of one determined where they would live. From 1500-1650 hunger and cold were the constant companions of the average European. Homes consisted of a few pieces of furniture such as a chest, which carried all the family belongings, maybe one bed, and chairs were still a luxury in the sixteenth century. Despite the way they lived women were becoming more influential and active in the workforce and politics.

Women who were from the leading families would usually supervise other workforces. They began to have occupations such as nursing the sick. Slowly during the sixteenth century, status rather than wealth determined the social hierarchy. The ability to domesticate goats, sheep, pigs, and cattle and to cultivate barley, what, and vegetables changed human communities from passive harvest of nature to active with. The really revolutionary aspect of agriculture was not simply that it ensured settled communities a food supply. The true innovation was that agriculture was portable.

For the fist time, rather than looking for a place the provided them with necessities of life, humans could carry with them what they needed to make a site inhabitable. This portability also mean the rapid spread of agriculture throughout the region. In Neolithic times, social and economic differences within society had been a minimal. Urban immigration increased the power, wealth, and status. During the second half of the fifth century B. C. E. , Athens, enriched by tribute from its over 150 subject states, was a vital, crowded capital that drew merchants, artisans, and laborers from throughout the Greek world.

At its height, the total population of Athens and surrounding Attica numbered perhaps 350,000, although probably fewer than 60,000 were citizens-adult males qualified to own land and Athenian politics. The civilized world was spread by introducing agriculture, writing system, and religion to primitive tribes. The un-civilized people adapt to the civilized behavior. Civilization was also spread by force, if a tribe does not wish to use agriculture or accept a certain religion it is forced to do so by the civilized people, and they usually succeed due to their more advanced technology.

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