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Of such the most familiar, and in some respects the most instructive, are furnished by the social insects. All know that bees and wasps form communities such that the units and the aggregates stand in very definite relations. Between the individual organization of the hive-bee and the organization of the hive as an orderly aggregate of individuals with a regularly-formed habitation, there exists a fixed connexion. Just as the germ of a wasp evolves into a complete individual; so does the adult queen-wasp, the germ of a wasp-society, evolve into a multitude of individuals with definitely-adjusted arrangements and activities.

As evidence that Evolution of this order has here arisen after the same manner as the simpler orders of Evolution, it may be added that, among both bees and wasps, different genera exhibit it in different degrees. From kinds Edition: current; Page: [ 5 ] that are solitary in their habits, we pass through kinds that are social in small degrees to kinds that are social in great degrees. Among some species of ants, Super-organic Evolution is carried much further—some species, I say; for here, also, we find that unlike stages have been reached by unlike species.

The most advanced show us division of labour carried so far that different classes of individuals are structurally adapted to different functions. White ants, or termites which, however, belong to a different order of insects , have, in addition to males and females, soldiers and workers; and there are in some cases two kinds of males and females, winged and unwinged: making six unlike forms.

And then by some species, a further division of labour is achieved by making slaves of other ants. There is also a tending of alien insects, sometimes for the sake of their secretions, and sometimes for unknown purposes; so that, as Sir John Lubbock points out, some ants keep more domestic animals than are kept by mankind. Moreover, among members of these communities, there is a system of signalling equivalent to a rude language, and there are elaborate processes of mining, road-making, and building.

But, as hinted above, though social insects exhibit a kind of evolution much higher than the merely organic—though the aggregates they form simulate social aggregates in sundry ways; yet they are not true social aggregates.


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For each of them is in reality a large family. It is not a union among like individuals independent of one another in parentage, Edition: current; Page: [ 6 ] and approximately equal in the capacities; but it is a union among the offspring of one mother, carried on, in some cases for a single generation, and in some cases for more; and from this community of parentage arises the possibility of classes having unlike structures and consequent unlike functions.

Instead of being allied to the specialization which arises in a society, properly so called, the specialization which arises in one of these large and complicated insect-families, is allied to that which arises between the sexes. Instead of two kinds of individuals descending from the same parents, there are several kinds of individuals descending from the same parents; and instead of a simple co-operation between two differentiated individuals in the rearing of offspring, there is an involved co-operation among sundry differentiated classes of individuals in the rearing of offspring.

True rudimentary forms of Super-organic Evolution are displayed only by some of the higher vertebrata. Certain birds form communities in which there is a small amount of co-ordination. Among rooks we see such integration as is implied by the keeping-together of the same families from generation to generation, and by the exclusion of strangers. There is some vague control, some recognition of proprietorship, some punishment of offenders, and occasionally expulsion of them.

A slight specialization is shown in the stationing of sentinels while the flock feeds. And usually we see an orderly action of the whole community in respect of going and coming.

There has been reached a co-operation comparable to that exhibited by those small assemblages of the lowest human beings, in which there exist no governments. Gregarious mammals of most kinds display little more than the union of mere association. In the supremacy of the strongest male in the herd, we do, indeed, see a trace of governmental organization. Some co-operation is shown, Edition: current; Page: [ 7 ] for offensive purposes, by animals that hunt in packs, and for defensive purposes by animals that are hunted; as, according to Ross, by the North American buffaloes, the bulls of which assemble to guard the cows during the calving-season against wolves and bears.

Certain gregarious mammals, however, as the beavers, carry social co-operation to a considerable extent in building habitations. Finally, among sundry of the Primates, gregariousness is joined with some subordination, some combination, some display of the social sentiments. There is obedience to leaders; there is union of efforts; there are sentinels and signals; there is an idea of property; there is exchange of services; there is adoption of orphans; and the community makes efforts on behalf of endangered members. These classes of truths, which might be enlarged upon to much purpose, I have here indicated for several reasons.

Partly, it seemed needful to show that above organic evolution there tends to arise in various directions a further evolution. Partly, my object has been to give a comprehensive idea of this Super-organic Evolution, as not of one kind but of various kinds, determined by the characters of the various species of organisms among which it shows itself. And partly, there has been the wish to suggest that Super-organic Evolution of the highest order, arises out of an order no higher than that variously displayed in the animal world at large.

Having observed this much, we may henceforth restrict ourselves to that form of Super-organic Evolution which so immensely transcends all others in extent, in complication, in importance, as to make them relatively insignificant. I refer to the form of it which human societies exhibit in their growths, structures, functions, products.

To the phenomena comprised in these, and grouped under the general title of Sociology, we now pass. The behaviour of a single inanimate object depends on the co-operation between its own forces and the forces to which it is exposed: instance a piece of metal, the molecules of which keep the solid state or assume the liquid state, according partly to their natures and partly to the heat-waves falling on them.

Similarly with any group of inanimate objects. It is equally so when the discrete aggregate consists of organic bodies, such as the members of a species. For a species increases or decreases in numbers, widens or contracts its habitat, migrates or remains stationary, continues an old mode of life or falls into a new one, under the combined influences of its intrinsic nature and the environing actions, inorganic and organic.

It is thus, too, with aggregates of men. Be it rudimentary or be it advanced, every society displays phenomena that are ascribable to the characters of its units and to the Edition: current; Page: [ 9 ] conditions under which they exist. Here, then, are the factors as primarily divided. These factors are re-divisible. Within each there are groups of factors that stand in marked contrasts. Beginning with the extrinsic factors, we see that from the outset several kinds of them are variously operative.

We have climate; hot, cold, or temperate, moist or dry, constant or variable. We have surface; much or little of which is available, and the available part of which is fertile in greater or less degree; and we have configuration of surface, as uniform or multiform. Next we have the vegetal productions; here abundant in quantities and kinds, and there deficient in one or both. And besides the Flora of the region we have its Fauna, which is influential in many ways; not only by the numbers of its species and individuals, but by the proportion between those that are useful and those that are injurious.

On these sets of conditions, inorganic and organic, characterizing the environment, primarily depends the possibility of social evolution. When we turn to the intrinsic factors we have to note first, that, considered as a social unit, the individual man has physical traits, such as degrees of strength, activity, endurance, which affect the growth and structure of the society. He is in every case distinguished by emotional traits which aid, or hinder, or modify, the activities of the society, and its developments. Always, too, his degree of intelligence and the tendencies of thought peculiar to him, become co-operating causes of social quiescence or social change.

Such being the original sets of factors, we have now to note the secondary or derived sets of factors, which social evolution itself brings into play. First may be set down the progressive modifications of the environment, inorganic and organic, which societies effect.

Introduction to Sociology - The Sociological Imagination - Part 1

Among these are the alterations of climate caused by clearing and by drainage. Next come the changes wrought in the kinds and quantities of plant-life over the surface occupied. These changes are three-fold. There is the increasing culture of plants conducive to social growth, replacing plants not conducive to it; there is the gradual production of better varieties of these useful plants, causing, in time, great divergences from their originals; and there is, eventually, the introduction of new useful plants.

Simultaneously go on the kindred changes which social progress works in the Fauna of the region. We have the diminution or destruction of some or many injurious species. We have the fostering of useful species, which has the double effect of increasing their numbers and making their qualities more advantageous to society.

Further, we have the naturalization of desirable species brought from abroad. It needs but to think of the immense contrast between a wolf-haunted forest or a boggy moor peopled with wild birds, and the fields covered with crops and flocks which Edition: current; Page: [ 11 ] eventually occupy the same area, to be reminded that the environment, inorganic and organic, of a society, undergoes a continuous transformation during the progress of the society; and that this transformation becomes an all-important secondary factor in social evolution.

Another secondary factor is the increasing size of the social aggregate, accompanied, generally, by increasing density. Apart from social changes otherwise produced, there are social changes produced by simple growth.

Mass is both a condition to, and a result of, organization. It is clear that heterogeneity of structure is made possible only by multiplicity of units.

Division of labour cannot be carried far where there are but few to divide the labour among them. Complex co-operations, governmental and industrial, are impossible without a population large enough to supply many kinds and gradations of agents. And sundry developed forms of activity, both predatory and peaceful, are made practicable only by the power which large masses of men furnish.

Hence, then, a derivative factor which, like the rest, is at once a consequence and a cause of social progress, is social growth. Other factors co-operate to produce this; and this joins other factors in working further changes. Among derived factors we may next note the reciprocal influence of the society and its units—the influence of the whole on the parts, and of the parts on the whole.

As soon as a combination of men acquires permanence, there begin actions and reactions between the community and each member of it, such that either affects the other in nature. The control exercised by the aggregate over its units, tends ever to mould their activities and sentiments and ideas into congruity with social requirements; and these activities, sentiments, and ideas, in so far as they are Edition: current; Page: [ 12 ] changed by changing circumstances, tend to re-mould the society into congruity with themselves.

In addition, therefore, to the original nature of the individuals and the original nature of the society they form, we have to take into account the induced natures of the two. Eventually, mutual modification becomes a potent cause of transformation in both. Yet a further derivative factor of extreme importance remains.

I mean the influence of the super-organic environment—the action and reaction between a society and neighbouring societies. While there exist only small, wandering, unorganized hordes, the conflicts of these with one another work no permanent changes of arrangement in them.


  1. Two Girls-Two Tires-What Cost?.
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  3. this bridge we call home: radical visions for transformation.
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  5. But when there have arisen the definite chieftainships which frequent conflicts tend to initiate, and especially when the conflicts have ended in subjugations, there arise the rudiments of political organization; and, as at first, so afterwards, the wars of societies with one another have all-important effects in developing social structures, or rather, certain of them.

    For I may here, in passing, indicate the truth to be hereafter exhibited in full, that while the industrial organization of a society is mainly determined by its inorganic and organic environments, its governmental organization is mainly determined by its super-organic environment—by the actions of those adjacent societies with which it carries on the struggle for existence.