Key Concept 4.2: New Forms of Social Organization & Modes of Production
Although the world’s productive systems continued to be heavily centered on agricultural production throughout this period, major changes occurred in agricultural labor, the systems and locations of manufacturing, gender and social structures, and environmental processes. A surge inagricultural productivity resulted from new methods in crop and field rotation and the introduction of new crops. Economic growth also depended on new forms of manufacturing and new commercial patterns, especially in long-distance trade. Political and economic centers within regions shifted, and merchants’ social status tended to rise in various states. Demographic growth — even in areas such as the Americas, where disease had ravaged the population — was restored by the eighteenth century and surged in many regions, especially with the introduction of American food crops throughout the Eastern Hemisphere. The Columbian Exchange led to new ways of humans interacting with their environments. New forms of coerced and semi-coerced labor emerged in Europe, Africa, and the Americas, and affected ethnic and racial classifications and gender roles.
1. Traditional peasant agriculture increased and changed, plantationsexpanded, and demand for labor increased. These changes both fed andresponded to growing global demand for raw materials and finishedproducts.
2. As new social and political elites changed, they also restructured new ethnic, racial, and gender hierarchies.
The power of existing political and economic elites (Zamindars in the Mughal Empire, Nobility in Europe, Daimyo in Japan) fluctuated as they confronted new challenges to their ability to affect the policies of the increasingly powerful monarchs and leaders.