Civilization: Definitions
References for Research and Study
Selected Definitions of Civilizations

See attached lengthy discussion paper:
Civilization: Definitions and Recommendations

Discussion Paper Highlights:
Selected Early Definitions of Civilizations
Selected Contemporary Definitions of Civilizations
Selected Classifications of Civilizations

Recommended Readings on Civilization in attached Discussion Paper:
» I. Dr. Walter Benesch
» II. Prof. David Wilkinson
» III. Professor Matt Melko
» IV. Dr. Laina Farhat-Holzman
» V. Dr. Midori Yamanouchi
» VI. Joseph Drew

Brief Early Definitions of Civilization s

Civilizations have distinctly different settlement patterns from ordinary societies. The word civilization is sometimes defined as "a word that simply means 'living in cities'" (Standage 2005:25). Non-farmers gather in cities to work and to trade. Compared with other societies, civilizations have a more complex political structure, namely the state. State societies are more stratified than other societies; there is a greater difference among social classes. The ruling class, normally concentrated in cities, has control over much of the surplus that constitutes wealth and exercises its will through the actions of a government, bureaucracy, technocracy, plutocracy, meritocracy, ad-hoc-cracy, and military.

The term civilization has been defined and understood in a number of ways in a situation when there is no widely accepted standard definition. Sometimes it is used synonymously with a term culture. Civilization can also refer to society as a whole. To nineteenth-century English anthropologist Edward Burnett Tylor, for example, civilization was "the total social heredity of mankind;” in other words, civilization was the totality of human knowledge and culture as represented by the most "advanced" society at a given time.

Some most popular definitions of civilizations will be reviewed and compared to find the most important components, which should be a part of a standard/composite definition.