Presentation On “Development of Social Inequality in Agrarian Societies.”

Meaning of Agrarian Society
Definition of Agrarian Society
Inequality in The two Major Period of Agrarian Society
Indicators of Social Inequality in Agrarian Societies
Social Inequality in Agrarian Societies
Stages of the Development of Inequality in Agrarian Societies

Meaning of Agrarian Society:
Agrarian means relating to the ownership and use of land, especially farmland, or relating to the society or economy that is concerned with agriculture.
Definition of Agrarian Society:

Inequality in the Two Major Period of Agrarian Societies:

1. Simple Agrarian Society            2. Advanced Agrarian Society

Inequality in the Two Major Period of Agrarian Societies:

1.    Simple Agrari ( Stratification-Trends in Social Stratification) a Society

u Increasing inequality in simple agrarian societies.
u Larger surplus greater inequality.
u Stratification system characterized by 3 coinciding contrasts
v Governing class vs. the mass
v Urban minority vs. peasant majority
v Literate minority vs. illiterate majority  
2. Advanced Agrarian Society
(Social Stratification- Trends in Stratification System)

u Increasing complexity in advanced agrarian societies.
u Growing complexity manifested as
u More intermediate-status occupations.
u More overlap in rankings according to wealth/property, some merchants wealthier than some members of governing class.
u High degree of inequality
u class of Expendables

Indicators of Social Inequality in Agrarian Societies:

1.Land    2.Labor  3.Harvest   4.Stock   5.Distribution

u On the basis of land we found two major classes in agrarian societies. They are-
u Landlords
u Cultivators or Sharecroppers
u Landlords were happy to appropriate agrarian surplus to sustain their comfortable lifestyles but they did not invest in agriculture.
u Cultivators or sharecroppers had to support several layers of landlords.
u Though the cultivators grew crops by their hard work but the landlords enjoyed more benefits.


u In agrarian societies there is no scope for division of labor in these societies except along the limit of age and sex. Men and women, young and old perform a different role in this society. Men had to work in the field and farm and women perform households work. In the agrarian society, there was no specialized occupational role.


Harvest inequality occurs when most of the crops are harvested by a disproportionately small number of harvesters. Knowing the causes of harvest inequality is critical to understanding the potential effects of management because most harvest regulations only influence the top harvesters. Harvest inequality develops if a few harvesters take a large number of crops relative to the average harvest. Inequalities which we find in the harvesting time are given below:
v Price of the crops is decreased.
v The wages of the labor increased.
v Landlords take more crops than sharecroppers.


u Stock is a quantity of something accumulated, as for future use.
u People store food and other goods for future to chief man.
u This type of stocking helps to sustain the political power of the chief man and helps to raise his prestige than others.
u Foods are insufficient in the market which influences the rise of price.
u People are to purchase foods at a high rate which create extreme inequality between higher class and poor peasants.


v Wealth Distribution: Though the land is the main property of agrarian society, there is seen an unequal distribution. It is seen that 70% of the land is under the control of 10% farmers and 30% of the land is controlled by the rest of the farmers. On the other hand, if we look at the agrarian society we can see a number of significant people (landlords, vassals) controlling the economic and social opportunities.
v Income: Large inequalities in money income between the landlords and peasants undoubtedly indicate real differences in the degree of inequality. Landlords get more agricultural surplus than peasants without any invest (fertilizer, seeds). For this, the income of the landlords is increased whereas peasant’s income decreased.

Social Inequality in Agrarian Societies:

u There are many kinds of social inequality in agrarian society. Some important social inequality is discussed below:
1. Wealth Inequality
2. Age Inequality
3.Sex Inequality
4. Power Inequality
5. Income Inequality

1. Wealth Inequality

u Most of the wealth included in upper class (Elite).
u Peasants were worse off economically than elite class.
u Elite class was the owner of the land.
u Peasant’s class cultivates the land.

2. Age Inequality

u Age inequality found in all agrarian society.
u Young and old perform a different role.
u Old were the head of the society. They play an important role in society.
u Child didn’t play an essential role.

3. Sex Inequality

u Women play an important role for agriculture. They cultivate the land for crops. But men enjoyed these benefit.
u Men exploited and dominated women.
u Actually men were political leaders in society.
u Women were deprived of political activity.
u Women have been forbidden to achieve own property.  

4. Power Inequality

u All power included by upper class such as elite.
u Land systems were controlled by the elite class.
u Lower class or peasants were deprived of all power and they exploited by the upper class.

5. Income Inequality

u Major burden was taxation for peasants. As results, they earn less money than elite class/ upper class.
u But elite class enjoy more than upper class.

Stages of the Development of Social Inequality in Agrarian Societies:

u Agrarian society developed some 5000 years ago in the Middle East for the invention of the plow.
u The wheel was also invented about the same time and written language and numbers began to be used.
u People build up Industry and there was an extreme inequality between the owners and labors.
u The development of social inequality in agrarian society can be shown by the following diagram.

1.    Agriculture   2. Technology 3. Civilization 4. Specialization
5.  Institutions 6.  Industry  7. Inequality


u In the agrarian society the population becomes more settled because the supply of food was no longer dependent upon nature.
u The people had to excavate the channels to bring water into the fields and dikes to keep back food. This gave birth to the science of irrigation.
u The bond of the family became stronger. Furthermore, it brought change in the techniques of irrigation.


u Social inequality developed in agrarian society by using some technology. They are given below:
v Use of the plow.
v Use of hand tools to raise crops.
v The domestication of animals.
v Compared to hunting and gathering societies, horticulture and pastoral societies are more socially diverse.
v  irrigation
v Invention of the wheel.


u We can see that the food-growers served as the basis of the growth of civilization.
u With this developed we can see two group of people in agrarian society.
u One group of people used to work with hoe and plow to produce the necessities of life and the second group of people lived in the cities and become specialized in some professions.
u Specialization is a method of production where business, area or economy focuses on the production of a limited scope of products or services to gain greater degrees of productive efficiency within an overall system.
u In agrarian society there was enough leisure for some individuals for specialized works or craftsmanship in basketry, pottery, weaving, carving, and pursuits.


u In the agrarian society, there developed many types of institutions both in the rural and urban areas for the service of people.
u The new method of food production created new types of institutions which developed social inequality in agrarian society.  For example,
u The extended form of the family emerged as one of the first institutions in the agrarian society.


u In about 4000 B.C, the people began to concentrate in a large number along with the sides of the river, where traditional agricultural towns developed.
u This was the beginning of the town life which initiated the trend towards modern industrial society.
u The production of food is shifted to large commercial firms.
u In industry there arise, two class,
u  Owner class
u Working class


u Increased wealth and complex division of labor produced greater stratification.
u The capacity for labor to produce surplus was the basis of inequalities.
u By owning another person one can own the surplus the other person produces.

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