The Society Portal

World Summit on the Information Society, Geneva

World Summit on the Information Society, Geneva

A human society is a group of people related to each other through continued relations, or a large social grouping sharing the same geographical or virtual territory, same interests, subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations. Human 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 members. In the social sciences, a larger society often evinces stratification and/or dominance patterns in subgroups.

In so far 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: an organized group working together having a common interests, beliefs, or profession.

More broadly, a society may be described as an economic, social, or industrial infrastructure, made up of a varied collection of individuals or subgroups. Members of a society may be from different ethnic groups. A society can be a particular ethnic group, such as the Saxons; a nation state, such as Bhutan; or a broader cultural group, such as a Western society. The word society may also refer to an organized voluntary association of people for religious, benevolent, cultural, scientific, political, patriotic, or other purposes. A "society" may also be a group of social organisms such as an ant colony, or any cooperative aggregate such as, for example, in some formulations of artificial intelligence.

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Maj. Gen. William B. Garrett III, commander of U.S. Army Africa, Gen. Nyakayirima Aronda, Chief of Defense Forces, Ugandan People’s Defense Force, and Gen. Jeremiah Kianga, Chief of General Staff, Kenya, render honors during the opening ceremony for Natural Fire 10, Kitgum, Uganda, Oct. 16, 2009.
Polyethnicity refers to the close proximity of people from different ethnic backgrounds within a country or other specific geographic region. It also relates to the ability and willingness of individuals to identify themselves with multiple ethnicities. It occurs when multiple ethnicities inhabit a given area, specifically through means of immigration, intermarriage, trade, conquest, and post-war land-divisions. Professor William H. McNeill states in his series of lectures on polyethnicity that it is the societal norm for cultures to be made up of many ethnic groups. This has had many political and social implications on countries and regions. Many, if not all, countries have some level of polyethnicity, with countries like the United States and Canada having large levels and countries like Japan and Poland having relatively small levels (and more specifically, a sense of homogeneity). The amount of polyethnicity prevalent in current society has spurred some arguments against it, which include a belief that it leads to the weakening of each societies strengths, and also a belief that political-ethnic issues in countries with polyethnic populations are better handled with different laws for certain ethnicities.

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Megalith on Nias, IndonesiaCredit: 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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The 1958 Honda Super Cub

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Lyndon Johnson

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Dyer Lum
Dyer Daniel Lum (1839–April 6, 1893) was a 19th-century American anarchist labor activist and poet. A leading anarcho-syndicalist and a prominent left-wing intellectual of the 1880s, he is remembered as the lover and mentor of early anarcha-feminist Voltairine de Cleyre. Lum was a prolific writer who wrote a number of key anarchist texts, and contributed to publications including Mother Earth, Twentieth Century, Liberty (Benjamin Tucker's individualist anarchist journal), The Alarm (the journal of the International Working People's Association) and The Open Court among others. Following the arrest of Albert Parsons, Lum edited The Alarm from 1892–1893. Traditionally portrayed as a "genteel, theoretical anarchist", Lum has recently been recast by the scholarship of Paul Avrich as an "uncompromising rebel thirsty for violence and martyrdom" in the light of his involvement in the Haymarket affair in 1886.

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From Ordo Virtutum (c.1151) by Abbess Hildegard of Bingen (1098–1179). Performed by Makemi.

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Lawrence Lessig
Lawrence Lessig, 2001

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