Portal:Society

The Society Portal

Ant (formicidae) social ethology

Ant (formicidae) social ethology


A society is a group of individuals involved in persistent social interaction, or a large social group sharing the same spatial 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.

Societies construct patterns of behavior by deeming certain actions or speech as acceptable or unacceptable. These patterns of behavior within a given society are known as societal norms. Societies, and their norms, undergo gradual and perpetual changes.

Insofar as it is collaborative, a society can enable its members to benefit in ways that would otherwise be difficult 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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The Stonewall Inn, taken September 1969
The Stonewall riots were a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations against a police raid that took place in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn, in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City. They are frequently cited as the first instance in American history when gays and lesbians fought back against a government-sponsored system that persecuted homosexuals, and they have become the defining event that marked the start of the gay rights movement in the United States and around the world. The Stonewall Inn, at the time, was owned by the Mafia. It catered to an assortment of patrons, but it was known to be popular with the most marginalized people in the gay community: transvestites, effeminate young men, hustlers, and homeless youth. Police raids on gay bars were routine in the 1960s, but officers quickly lost control of the situation at the Stonewall Inn, and attracted a crowd that was incited to riot. Tensions between New York City police and gay residents of Greenwich Village erupted into more protests the next evening, and again several nights later. Within six months, two gay activist organizations were formed in New York, concentrating on confrontational tactics, and three newspapers were established to promote rights for gays and lesbians. Within a few years, gay rights organizations were founded across the U.S. and the world. Today Gay Pride events are held annually throughout the world toward the end of June to mark the Stonewall riots.

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Megalith on Nias, IndonesiaCr: Photo: Ludwig Borutta; Restoration: Lise Broer

Megaliths, some decorated, were a part of the culture of the island of Nias off the western coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. Among the many uses of these large stones were statues, seats for the chieftains, and tables where justice was done. Additionally, some stones commemorated the deaths of important people. In this 1915 photo, such a stone is hauled upwards, reportedly taking 525 people three days to erect in the village of Bawemataloeo.

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Henry Bergh

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Robert Sterling Yard in 1920
Robert Sterling Yard (1861–1945) was an American writer, journalist and wilderness activist. Yard graduated from Princeton University and spent the first twenty years of his career as a journalist, or and publisher. In 1915 he was recruited by his friend Stephen Mather to help publicize the need for an independent national park agency. Their numerous publications were part of a movement that resulted in legislative support for a National Park Service in 1916. Yard served as head of the National Parks Educational Committee for several years after its conception, but tension within the NPS led him to concentrate on non-government initiatives. He became executive secretary of the National Parks Association in 1919. Yard worked to promote the national parks as well as educate Americans about their use. Creating high standards based on aesthetic ideals for park selection, he also opposed commercialism and industrialization of what he called "America's masterpieces". These standards caused discord with his peers. After helping to establish a relationship between the NPA and the United States Forest Service, Yard later became involved in the protection of wilderness areas. In 1935 he became one of the eight founding members of The Wilderness Society and acted as its first president from 1937 until his death eight years later. Yard is now considered an important figure in the modern wilderness movement.

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William Wordsworth
William Wordsworth, The Excursion (1814), Book III.

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