This book is a brief introduction to the study of society, whichmay be read without any previous knowledge of the social sciences.
Each chapter addresses a fundamental question about people intheir various arrangements. The book begins by asking: what dopeople need from one another; what do they need to survive and howdo these needs make them dependent upon others? Subsequent chaptersdeal with the ties that bind people, the expectations theyentertain of one another, their means of distinguishing themselvesfrom others, the ways they have of moulding and teaching the young,and what they believe, know and invent. De Swaan also explores theways in which people organize their activities, from foraging bandsof only a few dozen members to contemporary societies that caneffectively co-ordinate a billion people or more. Human Societiestraces this huge increase in the scale of social life whichoccurred as new forms of human co-ordination emerged: fromreciprocal obligation and collective action, to markets,organizations, and states, and finally, the emerging global levelof interdependence.
This book will be essential reading for anyone who needs a briefand clear introduction to sociology in its broadest sense; it willbe especially valuable to those studying the subject for the firsttime.