Portal:Society

The Society Portal

World Summit on the Information Society, Geneva

World Summit on the Information Society, Geneva


A society is a group of individuals involved in persistent social interaction, or a large social group sharing the same geographical or social territory, typically subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations. Societies are characterized by patterns of relationships (social relations) between individuals who share a distinctive culture and institutions; a given society may be described as the sum total of such relationships among its constituent of members. In the social sciences, a larger society often exhibits stratification or dominance patterns in subgroups.

Insofar as it is collaborative, a society can enable its members to benefit in ways that would not otherwise be possible on an individual basis; both individual and social (common) benefits can thus be distinguished, or in many cases found to overlap. A society can also consist of like-minded people governed by their own norms and values within a dominant, larger society. This is sometimes referred to as a subculture, a term used extensively within criminology.

More broadly, and especially within structuralist thought, a society may be illustrated as an economic, social, industrial or cultural infrastructure, made up of, yet distinct from, a varied collection of individuals. In this regard society can mean the objective relationships people have with the material world and with other people, rather than "other people" beyond the individual and their familiar social environment.

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A Song Dynasty painting of an outdoor banquet
Chinese society during the Song Dynasty was marked by political and legal reforms, a philosophical revival of Confucianism, and the development of cities beyond administrative purposes into centers of trade, industry, and maritime commerce. The inhabitants of rural areas were mostly farmers, although some were also hunters, fishers, or government employees working in mines or the salt marshes. Contrarily, shopkeepers, artisans, city guards, entertainers, laborers, and wealthy merchants lived in the county and provincial centers along with the Chinese gentry—a small, elite community of educated scholars and scholar-officials. The military also provided a means for advancement in Song society for those who became officers, even though soldiers were not highly-respected members of society. Although certain domestic and familial duties were expected of women in Song society, they nonetheless enjoyed a wide range of social and legal rights in an otherwise patriarchal society. Women's improved rights to property came gradually with the increasing value of dowries offered by brides' families. Daoism and Buddhism were the dominant religions of China in the Song era, the latter deeply impacting many beliefs and principles of Neo-Confucianism throughout the dynasty. The Song justice system was maintained by policing sheriffs, investigators, official coroners, and exam-drafted officials who acted as magistrates.

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AidaCr: Poster: Otis Lithograph Co; Restoration: Adam Cuerden

A poster for a 1908 American production of Aida, an opera by Giuseppe Verdi that premiered on December 24, 1871, to great acclaim at the Khedivial Opera House in Cairo, Egypt. However, Verdi was most dissatisfied that the audience consisted of invited dignitaries and critics, but no members of the general public. He therefore considered the European premiere, held at La Scala, Milan, to be its real premiere.

Did you know...

An emaciated child and adult

  • ... that emaciation (pictured) is referred to as "shosha roga" in India, where more than 200 million people are affected by malnutrition?
  • ... that the Prison Officers Association threatened a job action when it was announced that both Birmingham and Oakwood Prisons were to be contracted to security company G4S?
  • ... that Albanian philosopher and poet Arshi Pipa was imprisoned for ten years because he antagonized the communist regime in Albania with his recitation of a verse by Goethe?

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Chinese Society Halls on Maui

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John Maynard Keynes, 1st Baron Keynes, CB, FBA (/ˈknz/ KAYNZ; 5 June 1883 – 21 April 1946) was a British economist whose ideas have profoundly affected the theory and practice of modern macroeconomics, and informed the economic policies of governments. He built on and greatly refined earlier work on the causes of business cycles, and is widely considered to be one of the founders of modern macroeconomics and the most influential economist of the 20th century.His ideas are the basis for the school of thought known as Keynesian economics, as well as its various offshoots. In the 1930s, Keynes spearheaded a revolution in economic thinking, overturning the older ideas of neoclassical economics that held that free markets would, in the short to medium term, automatically provide full employment, as long as workers were flexible in their wage demands. Keynes instead argued that aggregate demand determined the overall level of economic activity, and that inadequate aggregate demand could lead to prolonged periods of high unemployment. He advocated the use of fiscal and monetary measures to mitigate the adverse effects of economic recessions and depressions. Following the outbreak of World War II, Keynes's ideas concerning economic policy were adopted by leading Western economies. During the 1950s and 1960s, the success of Keynesian economics resulted in almost all capitalist governments adopting its policy recommendations. Keynes's influence waned in the 1970s, partly as a result of problems that began to afflict the Anglo-American economies from the start of the decade, and partly because of critiques from Milton Friedman and other economists who were pessimistic about the ability of governments to regulate the business cycle with fiscal policy.

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Mike Godwin
Mike Godwin, 1994

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