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 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, and also applied to distinctive subsections of a larger society.

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. (Full article...)

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Sappho and Erinna in a Garden at Mytilene
Lesbian is a term most widely used in the English language to describe sexual and romantic desire between females. Lesbian, as a concept, is used to differentiate women with a shared sexual orientation, and the concept is a 20th-century construct. Throughout history, women have not had the freedom or independence to pursue homosexual relationships where men have. However, they also have not met the same harsh punishment in some societies as homosexual men. In the past, lesbian relationships were sometimes regarded as harmless unless the participants attempted to pursue privileges traditionally enjoyed by their peers. As a result, little in history has been documented to give an accurate description of how female homosexuality has been expressed. When early sexologists in the late 19th century began to categorize and describe homosexual behavior, hampered by a lack of knowledge about lesbianism or women's sexuality, they distinguished lesbians as women who did not adhere to female gender roles and designated them mentally ill. Women in homosexual relationships responded to this designation either by hiding their personal lives or accepting the label of outcast and creating a subculture and identity that developed in Europe and the United States. Women exhibit sexual fluidity; some women who engage in homosexual behavior may reject identifying as lesbian or as bisexual. Greater understanding of women's sexuality has led to three components to identifying lesbians: sexual behavior, sexual desire, or sexual identity.

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Utopia, LimitedCredit: Strobridge Lithographing Co.; Restoration: Adam Cuerden

Utopia, Limited, is a Savoy Opera, with music by Arthur Sullivan and libretto by W. S. Gilbert. It was the second-to-last of Gilbert and Sullivan's fourteen collaborations, premiering on 7 October 1893 for a run of 245 performances. Although it did not achieve the success of most of their earlier productions, it was the longest-running production to premiere at the Savoy Theatre in the 1890s. The opera satirises incorporation laws, by imagining the absurd convergence of natural persons with legal commercial entities, the perceived unfairness of bankruptcy laws, and other conceits and institutions of the late 19th-century British Empire.

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Ghana

Anniversaries this month

The Red Cross and Red Crescent emblems, the symbols from which the movement derives its name.

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Betty Friedan
Betty Friedan, May 1978, 30th Anniversary Journal, American Society of Journalists and Authors

Selected biography

Murray Rothbard
Murray Rothbard
Murray Newton Rothbard (March 2, 1926 – January 7, 1995) was an American economist, historian, and political theorist. He was a prominent exponent of the Austrian School of economics and fundamentally influenced the American libertarian movement and contemporary libertarian and classical liberal thought, by theorizing a form of free-market anarchism which he termed "anarcho-capitalism". Building on the Austrian School's concept of spontaneous order, support for a free market in money production, and condemnation of central planning Rothbard advocated abolition of coercive government control of society and the economy. He considered the monopoly force of government the greatest danger to liberty and the long-term well-being of the populace, labeling the state as "the organization of robbery systematized and writ large" and the locus of the most immoral, grasping and unscrupulous individuals in any society. Rothbard concluded that all services provided by monopoly governments could be provided more efficiently by the private sector. He viewed many regulations and laws ostensibly promulgated for the "public interest" as self-interested power grabs by scheming government bureaucrats engaging in dangerously unfettered self-aggrandizement, as they were not subject to market disciplines. Rothbard held that there were inefficiencies involved with government services and asserted that market disciplines would eliminate them, if the services could be provided by competition in the private sector. Rothbard was equally condemning of state corporatism, criticizing many instances where business elites co-opted government's monopoly power so as to influence laws and regulatory policy in a manner benefiting them at the expense of their competitive rivals. He argued that taxation represents coercive theft on a grand scale, and "a compulsory monopoly of force" prohibiting the more efficient voluntary procurement of defense and judicial services from competing suppliers. He also considered central banking and fractional reserve banking under a monopoly fiat money system a form of state-sponsored, legalized financial fraud, antithetical to libertarian principles and ethics. (Full article...)

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  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt's January 6, 1941 State of the Union Address, using the theme of the Four Freedoms, which he felt represented universal rights in a well-formed society, to explain why he brought America to join World War II. (transcript)
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