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culture with a relatively high degree of elaboration and technical development. The term civilization also designates that complex of cultural elements that first appeared in human history between 8,000 and 6,000 years ago. At that time, on the basis of agriculture, stock-raising, and metallurgy, intensive occupational specialization began to appear in the river valleys of SW Asia. Writing appeared, as well as urban centers that accommodated administrators, traders, and other specialists. The specific characteristics of civilization are: food production (plant and animal domestication), metallurgy, a high degree of occupational specialization, writing, and the growth of cities. Such characteristics originally emerged in several different parts of the prehistoric world: Mesopotamia, Egypt, China, India, the central Andes, and Mesoamerica. However, some civilizations did not have all of these characteristics (e.g., the Classic Maya had no metallurgy, and true writing apparently never emerged in central Mexico or the central Andes). Many anthropologists now focus on a political factor—the development of hierarchical administrative bureaucracies—as the critical characteristic of all civilizations.


See P. Sorokin, Social and Cultural Dynamics (1981); R. Wothnaw, Meaning and Moral Order (1987); F. Fernández-Armesto, Civilizations: Culture, Ambition, and the Transformation of Nature (2001).


  1. the advanced cultural forms (e.g. central government, development of the arts and learning, articulated concern with morals and manners) associated with cities and the wider societies in which these are located. The term derives from the Latin civis, citizen.
  2. a particular society or culture area possessing the above characteristics (e.g. ‘Chinese civilization’ or ‘Western civilization’).
Historically, use of the term was often strongly, and somewhat crudely, evaluative, e.g. the contrast with pre-existing stages such as SAVAGERY or BARBARISM. See also CIVILIZING PROCESS.



(1) A synonym for culture. In Marxist literature the word is also used to designate material culture.

(2) A level or stage of social development or material and nonmaterial culture, for example, ancient civilization and modern civilization.

(3) The stage of social development that follows barbarism (L. Morgan, F. Engels).

The concept of civilization originated in the 18th century along with the concept of culture. The French Enlightenment philosophers applied the term to a society based on the principles of reason and justice. In the 19th century the concept of civilization was used to a limited extent to characterize capitalism as a whole. Thus, N. Ia. Danilevskii formulated the theory of the general typology of cultures, or civilizations, in accordance with which universal history does not exist, but only the history of given civilizations having an individual, closed character. In the conception of O. Spengler, civilization is the distinct, final stage of development of any culture. Its primary signs are the development of industry and technology, the degradation of art and literature, the concentration of people in big cities, and the transformation of the people into faceless “masses.” In this interpretation, civilization as an age of decline is contrasted to the integrity and organicism of culture. These and other idealist concepts explain neither the nature of civilization nor the true essence of its development. The classics of Marxism analyzed the driving forces and contradictions of the development of civilization, substantiating the necessity of the revolutionary transition to its new phase—the communist society.


Marx, K. “Konspekt knigi L’iuisa G. Morgana ’Drevnee obshchestvo.’” In Arkhiv K. Marksai F. Engel’sa, vol. 9. Moscow, 1941.
Engels, F. Proiskhozhdenie sem’i chastnoi sobstvennosti i gosudarstva. In K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 21.
Morgan, L. Drevnee obshchestvo, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1935. (Translated from English.)
Markarian, E. S. O kontsepisiilokal’nykh tsivilizatsii. Yerevan, 1962.
Artanovskii, S. N. Istoricheskoe edinstvo chelovechestva i vzaimnoe vliianie kul’tur: Filosofsko-metodologicheskii analiz sovremennykh zarubezhnykh kontseptsii. Leningrad, 1967.
Emge, K. A. Die Frage nach einem neuen Kulturbegriff. Mainz, 1963.
References in periodicals archive ?
At a time when we pride ourselves as being civilised, we find leading nations still bent on killing people in the pursuit of their national interest and agenda,' he added.
Civilised Investments submitted an application for a UK banking licence in June 2016 and will change it's name to Civilised Bank upon authorisation.
The alternative is for the civilised world to stand by and just wring its hands.
So, let's start with the dictionary's definition of "civilised":
After all, that would not have been very civilised. | Peter Collins
In a civilised society, Dr Lee explains, we need to make it possible for everyone to act according to their needs and views.
Penny Russell's wide-ranging study of colonial Australian manners, Savage or Civilised?, sets out to examine colonial manners in four contexts: 'the pastoral frontiers, the uncertain elites of convict society, the domestic world and the new public spaces of the modern city' (12).
when there used to be something called honest errors of judgment, honest mistakes, honest misunderstandings; not wickednesses, stratagems, perversions." Those were also times which were a lot more civilised. " She tells us of how Jayaprakash Narayan opposed things Nehru did or did not do.
PLANS to rebuild/re-engineer Grove Hill also present the council with a golden opportunity towards its older civilised tenants who simply ask for some peace.
Incorporating a combination of primary source observations with engaging secondary narrative, this book is an excellent exploration of the notion of a 'civilised wilderness'--an interesting parallel of the civilising mentality with which colonialists approached the settlement of Australia.
It s true that some of Dubai's citizens (not all) are not always acting in a civilised manner, understandably due to the cosmopolitan nature of Dubai's population where people are coming from different cultures and conceptions not always at "western's civilized standards" however I have seen many "westerners" here in Dubai ALSO acting in uncivilizedA and indifferent manners relatively toA "eastern civilizedA standards" such as "kissing in public", "eating and smoking publicly during Ramadan time", 'being rude and snobbish with others" ..etc
No civilised country should have the death penalty - but then, is America civilised?