Wild to Civilized
Human movement patterns
from nomadic packs in the African wilderness
to megacities in a global industrial civilization
From decentralization to centralization
to sum it up mathematically
World History Mapping Project
From small nomadic packs
in the African wilderness . . .
Lenore Monello Schloming
Skip Schloming, Ph.D.
. . . to megacities linked in
a global industrial civilization
A work in progress
This website-in-progress presents the authors' two doctoral dissertations in one work, in a form accessible to general readers as well as scholars. We aim to publish it in print form. Seven chapters are in near-final form, four chapters need further editing, and several chapters are not drafted but summarized briefly.
Our work in sociology has absorbed us all our lives in various endeavors (see Bios), but we did not pursue academic careers. So we are not familiar with current sociological trends except in a cursory way. Please forgive any missteps on our part.
A scientific way to study society and history
This work aims to present a truly scientific way to study certain aspects of human society and history. We look at our human movement patterns, how we move across the surfaces we walk on and how we move in relation to each other.
The study of society – sociology – has not yet become a scientific discipline on the same order as the “hard” sciences: physics, astronomy, chemistry, and biology. The study of history, too, is not scientific in this sense. We propose a methodology that would make history and sociology properly scientific.
We do not intend to replace any current research, but to provide a platform, A World History Mapping Project, where relevant research can be entered and help define movement patterns at particular times and places in history.
What we focus on
Is human social behavior fundamentally different from all other physical phenomena? Yes and No. We have big brains. We speak and communicate through language. We invent religions and laws and technologies. These features of humanity do seem different from the behavior of all other animals. And indeed, they are. But there is more: How we move.
Sociologists often base their research on the words we speak. In survey research, for example, people are asked questions, and their answers are tabulated, measured, and conclusions reported with words. But words are distinctly human and not comparable to other physical phenomena in the universe. We truly need another way to study human behavior. As Eliza Doolittle said of her linguist Professor Higgins: “Word, words, words, I’m so sick of words. Is that all you blighters can do?”
Looking at movement
What sociologists consistently ignore is movement, all the ways that we humans move regardless of speech. We gather in big cities or we spread out in small groups. We meet the same few people every day or we interact briefly with each one of many people we encounter in a day. Small groups and large organizations and whole civilizations come into existence, last for a time, and dissolve to form new groups, organizations, and civilizations. In human history, we have transformed from living in small nomadic groups of hunter-gatherers in the African wilderness to becoming our modern global industrial civilization – an amazing transformation.
Take the concept of class: low class, middle class, high class, as well as lower middle class and upper middle class. They all suggest a vertical positioning of different groups of people. But with a few ceremonial exceptions, we never see humans in vertical positions. What we see is everyone moving on a horizontal plane across various surfaces. And the difference between classes shows up in how people of different classes move (horizontally) in relation to each other: people of the same class interact more often with each other, and interaction between people of different classes shows up as one person remaining in a location while the other person moves away.
Movement is common to all
Movement is the fundamental characteristic common to all phenomena in the universe, from the infinitesimal – quarks, atoms, molecules – to the cosmic – asteroids, planets, stars, galaxies – and everything in between.
We humans are also constantly in motion, from the level of chemical processes in our tissues, to all our body movements, all the way to our society-level of interconnection with others: travel and trade, going to jobs, shopping, returning home, visiting friends and relatives, forming groups of many sizes that dissolve and re-form constantly over time.
This work ignores our words and examines one aspect of human movement patterns: how we move across the horizontal surfaces we encounter daily everywhere – and how our horizontal movements form different identifiable patterns. It might seem that looking only at our movements, not our words, is a very limited way to describe human social behavior. But we will find that this approach has far greater application than we might first think.
In sociology and geography, an area of study called spatial analysis has developed, but it focuses largely on placing specific kinds of phenomena in larger geographic spaces, with broad time categories. Our focus is on movement measured simultaneously in time and space, from the smallest to the largest geographic spaces.
This work, then, aims to lay out a way to study human society and human history by looking at our fundamental human movement patterns through all human history. It is a work of sociological theory or, because we also discuss divisions of labor, of socio-economic theory.
Does all this sound like hubris? Perhaps it is. But please hold on. We might have something important here, not to do away with current research but to provide a framework or skeleton on which current research can be located in the history of human society. We might then be able to understand our human social history better when we find similar movement patterns that occur in many different situations throughout history.
Toward a World History Mapping Project
Movement occurs in space and in time. As we interact and move in relation to others, time is constantly passing. Every moment in time is a unique picture of our human existence, a picture that changes constantly as the next moment happens, and the next, and the next – and it never stops. Or at least, as of now, time has not stopped.
Our goal is to discover the patterns in our human movements from prehistory to today. And since our movement patterns happen as time passes, we can go back in human history and reconstruct – not the details, of course – but the general movement patterns that very likely occurred at various times and places in the past.
Examples of movement patterns
The patterns of movement throughout human history are fascinating. Here are examples.
Wild to civilized In the course of human history, patterns of movement changed as small groups of nomadic hunter-gatherers in the prehistoric African wilderness gave way to settled villages based on subsistence agriculture. Then, as surplus agriculture developed, agrarian villages grew into towns with non-food-producing specialists – craftsmen and others – that develop the first local markets and trade with faraway places. With more agricultural surplus, towns grew into the first cities, which have subsequently grown into today’s global network of gigantic cities with volumes of trade. In the smallest formation, lifelong personal bonds of friendship developed. As towns, cities, and megacities developed, social relationships became increasingly impersonal and anonymous. This website discusses this particular change in movement patterns as its primary focus.
Male warrior bands Patterns of movement among male warrior bands occur in various forms throughout history: male hunting groups, invading warrior bands (Vikings, Mongols, etc.), warrior bands that protect autocrats (see Structure of government), military and elite groups (Navy Seals, Texas Rangers, “special ops,” Mexican and other cartels, local police forces, etc.), corporate magnates, street gangs, and more.
Structure of government Patterns of movement change as cities and regions are conquered and incorporated into empires with one-person autocrats (emperors, pharaohs, monarchs, dictators), who are protected from rivals by warrior classes who also enforce the autocrat’s dictates and tax collection on large populations. All governments seem to have a similar structure.
Feudal to industrial Patterns of movement changed as
- classes of privilege (clergy, nobility, oligarchs),
- inherited statuses (craft guilds and occupational groups), and
- servitude (serfs, peasants, slaves, servants)
gave way to
- broad classes of “free labor” (factory and office workers, shopkeepers, merchants, and managers in factories and bureaucracies).
Intellectual development Patterns of movement changed as strong religious beliefs supported by the Roman Catholic Church in medieval Europe gave way to the Enlightenment, science, rationalism, and a maze of secular movements.
Types of warfare Patterns of movement differ in warfare between bureaucratically organized military forces that operate with top-down orders and win by bombing and demoralizing the enemy population versus military forces organized in small "guerilla" groups with local decisions based on immediate battleground conditions and win by skilled maneuvers that demoralize the enemy forces.
Small groups to mass society Patterns of movement change as immigrants start out in ethnic enclaves with strong group identities and move from poverty to higher income levels and assimilate, in varying degrees, into mass society and individualism.
Promiscuity to fidelity Patterns of movement differ in sexual relationships, from promiscuity with many brief partners to exclusive permanent bonds between two partners, as well as in-between patterns.
From extended to nuclear families Patterns of movement changed as
extended families (parents, children, and one or more relatives who live together and share in childcare, food preparation/preservation, and home-based small industries)
nuclear families (parents and children only, who all leave the home for schooling, jobs, food, clothing, and other needs).
Musical forms Patterns of movement are reflected in the musical forms of each age in Western European history. Gregorian chant was unison singing of a single melodic line, reflecting the dominance of a single creed by the Roman Catholic Church in medieval Europe. The next form was four-part singing or instrumental music (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) with equal strength of each part, reflecting the development of inherited statuses or classes (clergy, nobility, peasantry, and an emerging class of merchants). Then came the form of classical and romantic music in the 18th and 19th centuries, in which a single melody line became dominant while a variety of subordinate voices played various roles in support of the melody line, reflecting the bureaucratic or factory organization that developed, with a single head in charge of various specialized subordinates. Finally, so-called modern, atonal music, with a scattered, chaotic quality and no stable harmonic structure, reflects modern mass society with much random intermixing of population.
Centralization & decentralization In the broadest sense, patterns of movement vary between centralization and decentralization, conforming to the constraints of time and space. At one extreme, decentralization is small, separated groups based on simple technology, with many of the same few people staying in lifelong relationships. At the other extreme, centralization is large, interconnected cities based on many advanced technologies, with people circulating rapidly amongst each other. Between these two extremes are many intermediate positions on the continuum from decentralization to centralization. Moreover, history is not one steady path from decentralization to centralization. These polar opposites is cyclic. The various social formations – nomadic bands, villages, towns, cities, and empires all rise, grow, and survive for short or long periods, then decline and disappear or integrate with other social forms. This website explores this basic polarity.
Dominance & submission Patterns of movement, besides showing the duration of interaction between any two individuals, also distinguish between dominant and submissive individuals as they interact. In terms of movement, the dominant individual remains in a specific territory (workstation, room, house, building) while the submissive individual moves away and seeks its own territory elsewhere. This dominance/submission dynamic is always present, whether between two individuals or on a larger scale. In a larger context, dominance or “power” manifests as who controls a given territory and submission as who can be expelled from it or compelled to act in certain ways.
There are some weighty moral implications here, for sure, but a truly scientific endeavor focuses on the movement patterns and their objective characteristics.
Defining a World History Mapping Project
What we propose is a way to capture and organize all the various kinds of movement patterns into a single resource for all scholars. The Project would be a research organization and, at the heart of it, a website/program.
The website/program would consist of a timeline from prehistoric days all the way to today. The timeline would be demarcated by millennia, centuries, decades, and years from the distant past to today. At the same time, the timeline would be connected to a world map. Researchers and scholars of all sorts could access any point or stretch of time on the timeline, locate it on the world map, and enter their own observations on their specific topic of study.
This world map and timeline, with many topics and social phenomena attached to it, would allow us to identify significant larger movement patterns and the various phenomena related to each pattern.
Movement patterns interplay with divisions of labor
This website “Wild to Civilized” is based on two doctoral dissertations drafted while the authors were graduate students in sociology at Brandeis University. Skip received his Ph.D. in 1974; Lenore drafted her dissertation, had it reviewed – and received twin sons. Skip linked his dissertation on the division of labor with Lenore’s typology of movement patterns. We explain them both in simplest terms here, and in detail in Parts II and III herein.
Social movement patterns among vertebrates, a typology (Lenore)
Flocking (everybody together) is the simplest, with impersonal, anonymous relationships that occur in flocks, herds, and crowds.
Fighting (everybody apart) produces territorial individuals who fight off any one of their own species as they defend their own particular territory, as in some species (everybody apart).
Friendship (together with some, apart from others) is a lifelong relationship, a bond between two particular individuals with personal recognition. These friendship relationships occur in small nomadic groups that remain separated from other small groups, with the members of each group staying together over long periods (together with some, apart from others). This nomadic pack formation occurs in a few species – humans, apes, wolves, elephants, whales, dolphins, and a few others.
Divisions of labor and movement patterns, a typology (Skip)
The sexual division of labor is differentiation between males and females in sexual reproduction, of course, but also in other survival skills. The men hunt, the women gather, and they must move together and exchange the meat and vegetables-fruits to survive. (Goes with Friendship)
The craft division of labor occurs when agriculture produces surplus food, which allows non-food-producing specialists to acquire skills in making just one kind of product in small quantities (e.g., shoes, bread, tools). To acquire what is needed to survive, everyone must meet in local markets to trade their various products. (Goes with Fighting)
The industrial division of labor occurs when even greater surplus food produces a large population of "free labor," people who are available to work in factories and bureaucracies where each person performs just one specialized task in a series of tasks that produces just one kind of product, but in large quantities. Eventually, a large array of specialized products are transported to large markets to be traded in cities. Bureaucracies are white-collar versions of factories. (Goes with Flocking)
Organization of this work
Part I Overview of human history and prehistory in terms of movement patterns and our methodology with movement patterns.
Part II The three basic movement patterns that occur in vertebrates.
Part III The three basic divisions of labor that involve humans moving in different patterns.
Part IV Special topics: bureaucracy, schooling, freedom & tyranny, loneliness & depression,
wealth & slavery, the future of civilization.
Bios: Lenore Monello Schloming, Skip Schloming, Ph.D.
Our intellectual career began in academia and took unexpected turns. We met and married while graduate students in sociology at Brandeis University during the tumultuous Sixties, anti-war, anti-establishment, pro-civil-rights, and hippie communalism. Skip wrote his dissertation “Centralization and Decentralization” and received his Ph.D. in 1974. Lenore wrote her dissertation “The Geometry of Social Life,” had it reviewed – and received twin sons.
Our doctoral research and the 1970s oil crisis led us to 60 acres in rural Maine where we homesteaded for ten years, built a home, workshop, and barn, and operated a small private elementary school. Skip wrote one-act musicals for our young students and subsequently wrote the book and lyrics for a full-length adult musical, a fantasy satire based on the Emperor’s New Clothes, “That Emperor’s Fool,” www.thatemperorsfool.com.
From our marriage onward, we managed rental housing in Cambridge and Somerville, Massachusetts, owned by Lenore’s parents and eventually by us. This property brought us back to Cambridge in 1989.
In 1996, we became heads of the Small Property Owners Association, a group of small landlords that had suffered for 25 years under Cambridge’s stringent rent control system. It launched a statewide referendum in 1994, which ended rent control in Boston, Cambridge, and Brookline by popular vote in this very liberal state. For 23 years as this group’s heads, we drafted over 200 monthly newsletters, critical of nearly every aspect of landlord-tenant law in Massachusetts. We are
now drafting a work "Rents in America."
Throughout our ventures, our doctoral work remained salient. We have lately developed our ideas more fully. This website-in-progress reflects an urgency to get our ideas to scholars and the public before we die. We plan to fill it out further.
Our writings include:
The Small Landlord Letter, on the role of small landlords, who provide affordable housing for America's moderate- and low-income tenants, yet small landlords are being forced out of the rental market by ill-conceived regulation (www.smalllandlord.com).
Wild to Civilized, human movement patterns from the prehistoric African wilderness to today’s global industrial civilization, based on our doctoral dissertations in sociology (www.wildtocivilized.com).
That Emperor’s Fool, a musical for all ages, a fantasy satire based on the Emperor’s New Clothes, ready for premiere production (www.thatemperorsfool.com).
In progress: Rents in America: The failure of rental housing policy in Massachusetts and nationwide, based on experience in Boston, Cambridge, and Massachusetts, and on nationwide laws usually drafted by free lawyers for tenants, the socialist legal-services lawyers in every U.S. state and territory, funded by tax dollars.
Questions or comments: firstname.lastname@example.org.