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Theme 5: Development and Transformation of Social Structures

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Emily Mayernik

on 12 January 2015

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Transcript of Theme 5: Development and Transformation of Social Structures

Theme 5: Development and Transformation of Social Structures
Emily Mayernik
Gender roles in some of the earliest societies paved the way for gender roles in societies to come. The male role as hunter shaped perhaps one of the first standards of masculinity- success in killing large animals. This is also an example of strength, a standard of masculinity even today. Men and women were relatively equal simply in that they both contributed to the societies in varying ways. Relationships between men and women were usually far more equal in these earlier societies than in later ones, for example women in the Song Dynasty, but there was still a distinction. Patriarchal societies after the first human societies built off the gender roles of the first societies, and this shaped the world today.
Gender Roles in the First Human Societies
Since women had long been intimately associated with collecting wild plants, it is thought they were the likely innovators who led the way to deliberate farming, with men leading the way to domesticating animals. Women were centrally involved in milking animals, processing that milk, and in producing textiles such as felt. This was widely used in Central Asia for tents, beds, rugs, and clothing. Textiles become a major trading point, and are essential to later societies. The roles of men and women fueled the agricultural revolution, and some things about it changed equality of men and women.
Gender Roles and Relations in the Age of Agricultural
Inequalities in wealth, status, and power set in motion hierarchies of class and gender. The transition to urban-based civilizations represents one of the major turning points in the social history of humankind. The urban-based civilizations multiplied and magnified the inequalities. Specialization came about and set some people apart from others. Higher classes started gaining wealth and power. As civilizations progressed and changed, hierarchies of class remained similar in a lot of places. Similar to the Indian caste system, the Code of Hammurabi’s punishments vary for someone of lower stature and power
The Erosion of Equality in the First Civilizations- Hierarchies of Class
No division of human society has held greater significance for the lives of individuals than those of sex and gender. Assigning behaviors as masculine or feminine defined the roles and behavior considered normal for men and women. At least since the First Civilizations, gender systems have been patriarchal. The buying and selling associated with commerce were soon applied to male rights over women, as female slaves, concubines, and wives were exchanged among men. Some women operated in roles defined as masculine, while others pushed against the limits and restrictions assigned to women. This is a theme seen throughout history, the start of people who stand for equality.
The Erosion of Equality in the First Civilizations- Hierarchies of Gender
Separated into an Elite of Officials, the Landlord Class, Peasants, and Merchants. In 124 BCE, Emperor Wu Di established an imperial academy to train potential officials as scholars. This created the Elite of Officials. The examination system provided room for change in social standing in China’s otherwise hierarchal society. Peasants were seen as the solid productive backbone of the country, and their hard work was worthy of praise. Merchants frequently became wealthy at the cost of others. The class system of China remained largely the same for a long time.
The Chinese Class System
Everyone was born into and remained in one of the four ranked classed for life. The untouchables did the work considered most unclean and polluting. Being born into a particular caste was generally regarded as reflecting the good or bad deeds of a previous life. This affected how people were treated depending on their caste. The caste-based social structure shaped India’s emerging civilization. The localization, and limited mobility, is one reason that India seldom experienced an empire encompassing the whole continent. Different notions than other societies, the notions of kharma, dharma, and rebirth, connected to the castes.
Caste System in India
While China was in a “golden” age” during the Song dynasty, for many women it marked yet another turning point in the history of Chinese patriarchy. Masculinity came to be defined less in terms of horseback riding, athleticism, and the warrior values of northern values and more in terms of calligraphy, scholarship, painting, and poetry. Foot binding distinguished elite women from commoners and peasants. The rapidly commercializing economy undermined the position of women in the textile industry
Women in the Song Dynasty
These two leading city-states of Greek civilization had apparent differences in patriarchies. Athens’s position towards women was far more restrictive than that of the highly militaristic and much less democratic Sparta. Greek thinkers provided a set of ideas that justified women’s exclusion from public life and their general subordination to men. The role of women was defined for some time in these two places
Contrasting Patriarchies: Athens and Sparta
Slavery in the Roman Empire
Slaves usually lacked any rights or independent personal identity recognized by the larger society. By simply being a slave, people lost their basic human rights. About one-third of the total population of classical Athens was slaves. War, patriarchy, and the notion of private property contributed to the growth of slavery. It is also suggested that the early domestication of animals provided the model for enslaving people. Slaves were usually thought of as “barbarians.” The vast majority of Roman slaves had been prisoners captured in the many wars that accompanied the creation of the empire.
The Quran taught that men and women were equal spiritually, but, like the written texts of almost all civilizations, it viewed women as inferior and subordinate socially. In early Islamic times, a number of women played visible public roles. As the Arab empire grew in size and splendor, the position of women became more limited. The caliph Mansur carried the separation of men and women further by ordering a separate bridge for women to be built over the Euphrates River in the new capital of Baghdad. A lot of signs of tightening patriarchy derived from local cultures, with no sanction in the Quran or Islamic law, but was incorporated into Islamic life and emphasized in the writings of Muslim thinkers

Women and Men in Early Islam
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