Chapter 2. Goods and Services

In my last chapter, we looked at food production, distribution, and the logistics thereof. Now we're going to look at what makes those logistics possible, and the spin-offs that might result.

Small self-sufficient communities will have all their services and goods produced within their community. There might be someone who is exceptionally good at something, or needs to devote extra time to an important skill, but everyone is going to have a basic, working knowledge of all things fundamental and important, and most people are likely to be jack-of-all-trades. That said, there may or may not be a division of labour within the community: kids do the light jobs, men do the heavy ones, and women and old men do light but skilled tasks, for example.

Larger communities who are integrated are more likely to have people with certain skill that requires substantial amount of time to master. That said, they might well pitch in with other stuff if needed, and one person might be servicing a high proportion of others in return for pay, food, or help with something he doesn't have the skill to do. Think the town farrier, carpenter, technician, or midwife - although if you're going to have a high birthrate, it's probably a good idea if there's more than one skilled midwife in town.

Big societies are going to have an even larger division of labour. In fact, a lot of people in Big Society can expect to have careers, or businesses. Tasks in services and production are going to be highly specialised and people are going to spend all their time specialising on one thing and buying or trading for whatever else they need from somebody else. You'll have your farmers, who are feeding everyone, your artisans, who are going to make things and mend things, your soldiers to protect you, your governors, your priests, your professionals, your manual labourers and your businessmen who give you a hand in marketing your products. This specialisation means that a lot of things can be done - you can have soaring cathedrals because an architect can spend years learning his craft, and the strong young stonemasons don't have to worry about growing their own crops - but if somebody gets isolated, or if their job fails, they're in serious, serious trouble.

Bottom line: the bigger and more complex your society gets, the more specialised people's jobs will get.

List of things you would expect any society to need:

Food (covered in the last chapter)

Medicine and medical experts



Tools for obtaining food

Tools for cooking food


Defence system

Some kind of facilities for the sick, unless the gameplan is 'leave them to die'

Religious figures

Some way of having fun - music and artwork are very common IRL, as are community games


Tools for taking care of technology (animals or gadgets)

Storage systems

This list is by no means exhaustive

The production of goods and services can go from one's Dad making a bow and arrow and one's Mum weaving a basket, all the way up to the mass-production of hi-tech nanocomputers. Take your pick.