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.

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 Einigkeit newspaper was an organ of the Free Association of German Trade Unions
The Free Association of German Trade Unions (FVdG) was a trade union federation in Imperial and early Weimar Germany. It was founded in 1897 in Halle as the national umbrella organization of the localist current of the German labor movement. During the years following its formation, the FVdG began to adopt increasingly radical positions. During the German socialist movement's debate over the use of mass strikes, the FVdG advanced the view that the general strike must be a weapon in the hands of the working class. The federation believed the mass strike was the last step before a socialist revolution and became increasingly critical of parliamentary action. Disputes with the mainstream labor movement finally led to the expulsion of FVdG members from the Social Democratic Party of Germany in 1908 and the complete severing of relations between the two organizations. Anarchist and especially syndicalist positions became increasingly popular within the FVdG. Immediately after the November Revolution, the FVdG very quickly became a mass organization. It was particularly attractive to miners from the Ruhr area opposed to the mainstream unions' reformist policies. In December 1919, the federation merged with several minor left communist unions to become the Free Workers' Union of Germany.

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Punch (magazine)Credit: Artist: John Tenniel; Restoration: Adam Cuerden

"Our New 'First Lord' at Sea", an 1877 editorial cartoon from Punch mocking the appointment of William Henry Smith (right) as First Lord of the Admiralty, the governor of the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom. Smith had been a household name thanks to the W H Smith chain of booksellers and newsagents, and he had been a Member of Parliament for the previous ten years, but he had no naval or even military experience whatsoever. The following year, Gilbert and Sullivan's H.M.S. Pinafore would satirise him on similar grounds, and he became known as "Pinafore Smith" throughout the course of his three years in the post.

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Eccentric flint on display in Brussels

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Louis XIV of France

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Bob Marshall
Robert Marshall (1901–1939) was an American forester, writer and wilderness activist. He developed a love for the outdoors during his childhood and became one of the first Adirondack Forty-Sixers. He also traveled to the Alaskan wilderness and wrote numerous publications, including the 1933 bestselling book Arctic Village. A scientist with a Doctor of Philosophy in plant physiology, Marshall became independently wealthy after the death of his father. He held two significant public posts during his life: chief of forestry in the Bureau of Indian Affairs, from 1933 to 1937, and head of recreation management in the Forest Service, from 1937 to 1939. Defining wilderness as a social as well as an environmental ideal, Marshall was the first to suggest a formal, national organization dedicated to the preservation of primeval land. In 1935 he became one of the principal founders of The Wilderness Society. Marshall died of heart failure at the age of 38. Today, Marshall is considered largely responsible for the wilderness preservation movement. Several landmarks and areas, including The Bob Marshall Wilderness in Montana and Mount Marshall in the Adirondacks, were named in his honor.

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A recording of the Welsh national anthem, "Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau" (composed in January 1856 by James James, with words by his father Evan James), sung by Madge Breese for the Gramophone Company on 11 March 1899.

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