Two types of division of labour in two different hunting-gathering societies

Two types of division of labour in two different hunting-gathering societies

The division of labour in these hunter-gatherer societies is well balanced, and is organised to suit the needs of all of the members of the society. Every member of these societies plays a contributes in some way to the community throughout their life.

The !Kung San Bushmen, Kalahari Desert, South Africa- Although a large group, it is divided into small bands, with each band being made up of between twenty and sixty people and having its own territory, within which the members of that band have rights to gather wild vegetable foods. However, hunters of larger animals may step into the territories of other bands quite freely if they are in the pursuit of game. The !Kung are almost entirely dependant upon hunting and gathering for their food supply. These people hunt and gather daily, and return in the evening to distribute all the food that has been collected equally among every single member of the band.

The labour division of the !Kung San is by gender and age. The people in the 20-60 age group provide the food, while the younger children and adolescents are not expected to provide regular food until they are married (most commonly between the ages of fifteen and twenty for the females, and about five years later for the males years later), and instead have their older relatives provide food for them. The older members of the band are well respected and have a high position in this society, and their role is to be the leaders of the camps, and to carry out activities such as ritual curing and making decisions. For many years after they stop hunting and gathering, the aged are fed and cared for by their children and grandchildren.

The women between the ages of 20-60 are responsible for the gathering, and work for two to three days a week each, whereas the men devote about twelve to nineteen hours a week to getting food. The food gathered by these women provides the bulk of the total !Kung San diet by weight. A woman gathers on one day enough food to feed her family, i.e. her elderly and younger relatives for three days, and spends the rest of her time resting in camp, doing embroidery, visiting other camps, or entertaining visitors from other camps.

The men of these bands also collect plants and smaller animals, but their main contribution is the hunting of wild animals. The hunters work is not regular; men can often hunt regularly for a week and then do nothing at all for even longer than a month if times are bad. During these periods, visiting, entertaining and especially dancing are the primary activities of men.

The Aborigines, Australia- were divided into two main groups. Ninety per cent of these people lived on the coast, the northern tropical forests, and the southern and eastern woodlands, while the remaining ten per cent lived in the interior desert. Also egalitarian, they shared equally the tasks of daily living, especially the collecting of food. In this society, labour was divided by gender; all men were hunters, on land or sea, and the women"s role was to collect plant foods, shellfish, small animals and insects.

Although meat was an important part of their diet, the foods gathered by the women provided the majority of their food supply. These women were very well educated about the local area, and knew how to find and use an enormous number of different plants, both for food and for other things such as medicine or making bags. They also had other skills; such as in the desert, they would collect the seeds of grasses and ground them into the floor to made a kind of bread. Their skills even extended to the making of tools for particular purposes, such as bark dishes for everything from seeds to babies, and grinding stones for grass seeds

The men"s role was to hunt game. They too made their own tools and weapons; the spear was the weapon most frequently used, but axes, clubs and various kinds of throwing sticks were also implemented. Their methods of hunting were few but often worked well. One was for the men to surround the animals together, or to scare them toward other hunters who lay in hiding. The most common way, however, was for one or two men to stalk an animal. The Aborigine men also had good tracking skills. Hunters used disguises to get close to their prey; for instance, some men disguised themselves as trees by holding up branches, and some smeared themselves with earth to stop the animal from being able to catch his scent.

The hunters were also very patient, as they often had to sit and wait motionlessly in intense heat in order to capture their prey. They also were familiar with the behaviour and "the ways" of their prey. An example of this was in the way they used to trap emus. Hunters would lie on their backs and wave their legs in the air to catch an inquisitive emu"s attention and lure it towards them. They also used dogs to hunt animals such as the wallaby, or other methods, such as smoking out wombats from their holes in the ground.

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