Perceptions Of Goods Possessions Between Hunting Gathering And Modern Consumer

The perception of goods may vary in distinct societies. Therefore, the case will be the same between the hunting and gathering societies and the modern consumer societies because they do have a different understanding points of the possession of goods. The Editor of Encyclopaedia Britannica (1998) has stated that the hunting and gathering societies are known to be the group of societies that merely depend upon the wild food such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and animals that are found both on land and sea in order to survive daily. Furthermore, this society is preferred to have a fewer number of goods possessions, unlike modern consumer societies. Hence, the hunter and gatherer societies will have their own approaches to survive whenever the scarcity of the resources occurs among them. However, modern consumer societies have consumed and possessed various range of goods in their everyday lives and activities. Fewer possessions of goods may lead to the feeling of unsatisfied living condition for this society. However, it is different for the hunting and gathering societies because more possessions of goods are perceived as a burden for their society. Although it may not be true for the modern consumer societies due to many reasons such as the better standard of living; the availability of the wanted goods; the essentiality for shopping and solely due to the wealth of a person. The perception of goods in hunting and gathering societies, on the other hand, differs from modern consumer societies. Smith in Goodwin et al., (2008, p.1) has stated that the consumption of the modern consumer societies is “the sole end and purpose of all production and the welfare of the producer ought to be attended to, only so far as it may be necessary for promoting that of the consumer”. The modern consumer societies from the statement explained that the consumption of the goods and services are both can benefit the consumer society and the producer as well. On the other hand, History (n.d.) has stated that the hunter and gatherers society had existed back in 2 million years ago. Thus, this society has a wild standard of living and most people in the modern era has assumed that this is how the people live in the past. Surprisingly, hunter and gatherer society does still exist in this modern age and they still practice their perception of the possession of goods. Hence, the difference in the perceptions of goods between the societies can be viewed from both of the societies' various opinions regarding the definition of wealth, the requirements on the migrations, the beliefs on sharing goods possessions and the concern about the shortages of the resources.

Possessions of goods have a different definition between hunting and gathering societies and modern consumer societies. The latter societies have a greater concept in wealth and the possession of goods. What one would expect, many of the societies choose to own more possession of goods in this modern time. According to Sahlins (1972) hunter and gatherer societies are more satisfied with having a fewer number of goods possessions. This society had a solid mindset that many possessions of goods are becoming a burden to them. Fewer possessions, on the other hand, are not considered as a misfortune to the society. Bajau Laut society, for instance, lives on the sea and some of them live on a houseboat (Culturecebu, 2014). Furthermore, this society also washes their clothes and prepare their food on the houseboat. They acquire their food by using traditional fishing methods. The sea animals that they caught is for them to consume that day as well. Hence, the possessions of goods are important to be less. This is due to the importance of keeping the houseboat to float for a longer duration of time. Hunter and gatherer societies are quite unique because their society is able to live with only a few possessions. Stehr (2017) has portrays the idea in the video that the Bajau Laut societies' home is almost empty with having fewer possessions only. However, the view of the possession of goods is contrasting with the modern consumer societies. El-Bassiouny, Adib, et al., believed that consumerism in the modern era leads to its society's pleasure through the act of trade in goods and services (n.d.). Therefore, the life of its society is not complete without the act of shopping. Modern consumer societies often own many possessions as it is linked to a better quality of life. For example, there are 24 shopping malls in Cairo that were built in the year 2005 (El-Bassiouny, Adib et al., n.d.). Globalization plays a huge impact on modern consumerism. Hence, it leads to the act of purchasing more on the goods that society believed to be useful for them. These actions make the possessions of goods in modern consumer societies to increase drastically. Additionally, the trading of goods and services for this society leads to a better standard of living. Therefore, the availability of money can force its society to purchase more and owning more useful or unuseful goods useful or unuseful for them to possess.

Places of living are one of the reasons that lead to differing views in the perception of goods in both of the societies. Migration is a term that has been commonly adopted among the hunters and gatherers society. Hence, this statement supports more on Sahlin's opinion that hunters and gatherers societies do not quite have many demands on material goods as they focus more on society's food quest (1972). Thus, the perception of the requirements only ensures the society to own a smaller number of goods possessions. The fewer possessions they own, the easier it will be for the society to migrate to a new place when required. For example, Bajau Laut, particularly for the people that live on a houseboat, needs to have fewer possessions and have been acquiring their food on-the-go to ensure the fewer possessions (Culturecebu, 2014). Moreover, Kaplan has stated that the mobile life of the hunters and gatherers society restrains them from owning more material possessions because it would become an obstacle and difficult for them to move from one place to another (2000). Furthermore, the society of hunter and gatherers are required to relocate when their local food supply begins to deplete. Hence, possessions such as the huts, tents or lean-tos which was made from plant materials or animal skin also needed to be brought along when migrating (The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, n.d.). Nevertheless, modern consumer society is not required to move from place to place. Moving to a new place will be considered as a burden to the person in the society. This is due to the numerous numbers of possessions that modern consumer society owns. Moreover, money is important in society as it can be used as a trade exchange for more goods and services. The money can benefit its owner as they could own more of the possessions in needs and wants such as cars, mobile phones and desired food. Goodwin et al. (2008) believed that the modern consumer societies can increase their countries’ economy by generating demands for the goods and services and increasing the modern consumer goods possessions simultaneously. Furthermore, the supply of goods and services will expire without demand (Goodwin et al., 2008). Hence, migrating to a new place is considered as a burden to society due to multiple possession that was owned. According to Schor (1999), globalization leads to the modern consumer society to fit in the category of a better lifestyle. The chances of obtaining a better quality of life are increasing due to the consumerism of the possessions of society. Additionally, money that society earned has forced its people to settle in a place of desire. Therefore, places of living make a huge difference in the perception of the possessions of goods in a society.

The attitude of both society also differs in the perception of goods possessions. Hunters and gatherers society are known to have a small number of population; it is what makes the bond of their society to become intensified. Additionally, the perception of goods can be seen in possession of food and physical goods context. Hunters and gatherers have been long known to consume wild food such as meat. According to 'The Original Information Culture – Ice Age Hunter/Gatherers' (n.d.), !kung and Batek societies of the hunter-gatherer had a strong viewpoint on the sharing of the meat possession. However, the owner of the meat has the power to distribute the meat to his family members first and only then the owner can distribute it to his society. The distribution will be according to society's protocol to ensure fairness to each people in their society. The hunters and gatherers are the society with few possessions, thus, the sharing of food has become a necessity especially in Batek hunter-gatherers society ('The Original Information Culture – Ice Age Hunter/Gatherers', n.d.). Hence, the act of taking other people's food would not be considered as stealing food possession but it will be considered as helping others. Furthermore, the idea of unsharing every possession or eating alone like the practices that have been done in modern societies shocks the hunters and gatherers society even more. 'The Original Information Culture – Ice Age Hunter/Gatherers' has stated that the hunter-gatherer society has been avoiding in becoming an envy object from other people in their society; the society prefers to own nothing than owning an object that the society does not possess (n.d.). However, modern consumer society has a contradict viewpoint with the sharing of one's possession. Vermeir and Verbeke (2006) studied the sustainability of food in modern consumer society. Although it extends animal welfare, human rights and labor working, food sustainability may lead to the inconvenience of the producer that are not practising it. This is due to the lack of trading possessions of money and goods and services. Other than sustaining the food product, the modern consumer society could still purchase their meat from the supermarket. Feeding the family member will not be one of the problematic issues. Unlike the hunter and gatherers society, modern consumerism will be considered as selfish in the hunter-gatherers context as the modern consumerism does not share the possession with the whole society to ensure fairness. Therefore, the attitude between the two society differs as the hunter-gatherer shares their food and possession while the modern consumer society owns the possession without sharing it with the whole society.

The scarcity of the resources can lead to the difference in the perception of the goods possession in the society of hunting-gathering and modern consumer societies. Moreover, the shortages of resources are one of the common issues in hunting and gathering societies. Thus, an easy solution is to migrate to a new place. However, that is not always the case. The sharing practice has widely been done amongst societies. The scarcity of the resources does not affect society; it only makes the society to become generous to one another. Hence, the ethics of sharing possessions is common that it can prevent such dominance in power, wealth and the ownership of certain goods. 'The Original Information Culture – Ice Age Hunter/Gatherers' (n.d.) has stated that the act of sharing food is one of the importance in the quality of the attitude to the point that not bringing meat back to the camp will make other people in the society to become furious. Furthermore, the hoarding of food will not be considered stealing in the hunting and gathering society, especially among the Batek society and it will be considered to more of helping other people that needed the food more. The unsharing of the possession is recognised as an inhuman behaviour among the !Kung society and are which puts a person under the same level as the animals ('The Original Information Culture – Ice Age Hunter/Gatherers', n.d.). Although primitive people of hunter and gatherers society have fewer possessions, they are not categorised under the level of poverty (Sahlins, 1972). The scarcity of resources is what makes society to bond the relationship even closer. Furthermore, reciprocity which is the act of gift giving contributes to the help of the society from time to time.

Linking to the above act on sharing the possessions; modern consumer societies have a more diverse view on the act of sharing their possessions with other people. Moreover, money plays a huge role in the modern consumer society. According to Schor (1999), the modern consumer society tends to be competitive with one another when it comes to owning a possession. A new product bought by the other forces another person in the society to buy it so they do not fall behind from the trend. Thus, the act of sharing possessions are rarely practised in society. Contradict to hunting and gathering societies on wanting to avoid becoming an envy object; Modern consumer society prefers to be out in the open. Thus, this means the need for showing off the wealth will be there. This referred to as 'symbolic of a good life' according to Schor (1999, p.45). The scarcity of the resources in modern society rarely happens in their society. Hence, the hunting and gathering societies have more knowledge on how to overcome the problem more as they experienced it the scarcity issues more often.

In conclusion, there are various perceptions of goods possessions between hunting-gathering societies and modern consumer societies. Hunting and gathering societies have a more diverse viewpoint on possessions of goods while the modern consumer society is linked to the requirements of money possessions and a better quality of life. The hunting and gathering societies believed that money can make one as an envy object to other people in their society and thus they wanted to avoid the circumstances. Modern consumer societies, on the other hand, have a contradicting viewpoint with hunting and gathering societies. The society prefers to boast about the wealth and goods that they possessed with the aim of not falling behind from the modern trend among their society. Furthermore, the difference in the perception of goods in society was affected by the necessity of the migration among the hunting and gathering society. Modern consumer society, in contrast, is unnecessary to move to a new place due to the availability of a nearby resource. Moreover, the need for sharing the food forces the two society to have two distinct viewpoints; allowing the act of sharing the food and the act of eating alone. Lastly, the scarcity of the resources also contributes to the difference in perception of the possession of goods. This issue has taught the hunting and gathering societies to be more generous and helping one other people in their society. However, this will be a different case in a modern consumer society as they rarely experience the scarcity of the resources. Therefore, the difference in the perception of goods leads to a different opinion in different societies.


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07 July 2022
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