Social Sciences

Start Free Trial

How can the difference in the way societies relate to the environment be used to describe the different types of societies that have existed in world history?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Focusing on differences in social relations to the environment can help describe different societies through history by revealing patterns of behavior that correlate with types of environments. In Guns, Germs, and Steel , Jared Diamond traces adaptation patterns in different world regions and shows how group behaviors changed over time....

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

Focusing on differences in social relations to the environment can help describe different societies through history by revealing patterns of behavior that correlate with types of environments. In Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond traces adaptation patterns in different world regions and shows how group behaviors changed over time. Many of the successful adaptations depended on environmental characteristics, such as temperate climates well suited to the development of agriculture.

Diamond also shows that people who lived in areas with abundant resources, such as on the edge of the sea or a lake, were likely to use those resources as the basis for establishing more permanent settlements; they would later intensify their investment in developing that location. In contrast, those who lived in areas of scarce resources were likely to deplete them quickly, sometimes causing environmental devastation. Once the resources would no longer support the population, the group tended to move on. In addition, competition over scarce resources would stimulate social groups to engage in conflictual behavior, including warfare, rather than peaceful trade.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on