W.W. Rostow, has described traditional society,
“as one whose structure is developed within limited production functions, based on Pre-Newtonian science and technology, and Pre-newtonian attitudes towards physical world.”
It means the structure of traditional society was based on primitive technology and orthodox ideas of people. The modern facilities of science and technology were absent.
According to Prof. C.P. Kindleberger “The traditional society rests in static equilibrium until it is disturbed by some such mechanism as that postulated by Hugen.” This definition suggests that there is no special change in the traditional society. Even if we find some change, that is not significant for economic development.
In the traditional society, the social structure was such where family played a dominant role. Political power is centred in the hands of landlords. Bulk of population is engaged in agriculture which is a major source of income of the state. The Pre-Newtonian era is called traditional society. The dynasties of China, the civilization of the Middle East and the Mediterranean etc. possessed the characteristics of traditional society.
Features of Traditional Society:
The traditional society have the following main features:
(i) Dominance of Agriculture:
In his stage, bulk of people were engaged in agriculture. But agriculture was backward as primitive methods of production were adopted.
(ii) Dominance of Family and Caste System:
In the traditional society, there was hierarchical system in which family and class system played a dominant role. Individual virtues were ignored and fatalism obstructed the process of economic development.
(iii) Political Power:
It was landlords who controlled political power under traditional society. The landlords exploited the natural resources of the country for their self-interest.
In the traditional society, old techniques were employed which were based on Pre-Newtonian science and technology.
(v) Law of Diminishing Returns:
In the traditional society the diminishing returns prevailed in agriculture. It was basically due to the use of old methods of production.
(vi) Unproductive Expenditure:
The expenditure incurred in this stage by the state was unproductive like building up of memorials, expensive funerals, expenditure on luxuries by rulers.
(vii) Application of Malthusian theory:
The increase and fall in the population was based on the law of Malthusian theory of population in traditional society. Thus, birth rate and death rate, both are quite high.
(viii) Ignorance about Development Avenues:
In traditional society people remain ignorant about development avenues.
(ix) Economic Activities:
The economic activities are totally traditional i.e. simple tools and implements are used and were confined only to meet domestic needs.