simple societythe least internally differentiated, and earliest, form(s) of human societies. Along with PRIMITIVE SOCIETY, one of a number of terms used to refer to such societies, and less pejorative than alternatives, its use reflects an evolutionary view of human societies. The contrast drawn is with more internally differentiated, complex societies, and within such a perspective social development may be seen as progressing from simple to complex forms (e.g. Sahlins, 1971). In some respects, however, the term simple society is undoubtedly a misnomer, as can be seen for example in the frequently complex patterns of KINSHIP within these societies.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000