|Sedentism: Sedentism refers to the practice of living in permanent settlements rather than being nomadic. It involves establishing a fixed residence, typically linked to agriculture, allowing for stability and the development of more complex societies. See also History, Economic development, Society._____________Annotation: The above characterizations of concepts are neither definitions nor exhausting presentations of problems related to them. Instead, they are intended to give a short introduction to the contributions below. – Lexicon of Arguments.
Daron Acemoglu on Sedentism - Dictionary of Arguments
Acemoglu I 137
Sedentism/Acemoglu/Robinson: Around 9500 BC the first domestic plants, emmer and two-row barley, were found in Jericho on the west bank of the River Jordan in Palestine; and emmer, peas, and lentils, at Tell Aswad, farther north in Syria. Both were sites of the so-called Natufian culture and both supported large villages; the village of Jericho had a population of possibly five hundred people by this time. Why did the first farming villages happen here and not elsewhere? Why was it the Natufians, and not other peoples, who domesticated peas and lentils? It was not that the Natufians lived in an area uniquely endowed with wild species that
Acemolgu I 138
made them special. It was that they were sedentary before they started domesticating plants or animals. (...) the inhabitants continued their hunter-gatherer lifestyle for another five hundred years before switching to agriculture.
Pros and cons for settling: Moving about is costly; children and old people have to be carried, and it is impossible to store food for lean times when you are on the move. Moreover, tools such as grinding stones and sickles were useful for processing wild foods, but are heavy to carry.
The ability to deal more effectively with storage and accumulate food stocks must have been a key incentive for adopting a sedentary way of life. While it might be collectively desirable to become sedentary, this doesn’t mean that it will necessarily happen. A mobile group of hunter-gatherers would have to agree to do this, or someone would have to force them.
Acemoglu I 139
Problems: Conflict resolution was probably much harder for sedentary groups, since disagreements could be resolved less easily by people or groups merely moving away. Once people had built permanent buildings and had more assets than they could carry, moving away was a much less attractive option.
Institutions: In order for sedentary life to emerge, it therefore seems plausible that hunter-gatherers would have had to be forced to settle down, and this would have to have been preceded by an institutional innovation concentrating power in the hands of a group that would become the political elite, enforce property rights, maintain maintain order, and also benefit from their status by extracting resources from the rest of society.
Acemoglu I 140
The emergence of political elites most likely created the transition first to sedentary life and then to farming.
Agriculture: Even technological innovation doesn’t necessarily lead to increased agricultural production._____________Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments The note [Concept/Author], [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] resp. "problem:"/"solution:", "old:"/"new:" and "thesis:" is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
James A. Acemoglu
James A. Robinson
Economic origins of dictatorship and democracy Cambridge 2006
James A. Acemoglu
James A. Robinson
Why nations fail. The origins of power, prosperity, and poverty New York 2012