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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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The finger
In Western culture, the finger (as in giving someone the finger or the bird), also known as the finger wave, the middle finger, flipping someone off, or the one finger salute is an obscene hand gesture, often meaning the phrases "fuck off" or "fuck you". It is performed by showing the back of a closed fist that has only the middle finger extended upwards, though in some locales the thumb is also extended. Extending the finger is considered a universal symbol of contempt. The gesture dates back to Ancient Greece and was also used in Ancient Rome. Historically, it represented the phallus. In recent times, the gesture has gained increased acceptance, and has been used increasingly by musical artists, athletes, and politicians. However, many still view the gesture as obscene. Many cultures use similar gestures to display their disrespect towards others of a different culture.

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2010 Haiti earthquakeCredit: Photo: Marcello Casal Jr, Agência Brasil

A United Nations vehicle patrols the streets of the Bel-Air neighborhood of Port-au-Prince in the aftermath of the catastrophic 2010 Haiti earthquake. The earthquake occurred at 16:53 local time (21:53 UTC) on Tuesday, 12 January 2010. An estimated three million people were affected by the earthquake, with an estimated 280,000 buildings severely damaged or destroyed.

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Tuareg people

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

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Max Weber
Maximilian Karl Emil "Max" Weber (German: [ˈmaks ˈveːbɐ]; 21 April 1864 – 14 June 1920) was a German sociologist, philosopher, and political economist who profoundly influenced social theory, social research, and the discipline of sociology itself. Weber is often cited, with Émile Durkheim and Karl Marx, as one of the three founding architects of sociology. Weber was a key proponent of methodological antipositivism, arguing for the study of social action through interpretive (rather than purely empiricist) means, based on understanding the purpose and meaning that individuals attach to their own actions. Weber's main intellectual concern was understanding the processes of rationalisation, secularization, and "disenchantment" that he associated with the rise of capitalism and modernity and which he saw as the result of a new way of thinking about the world. Weber is perhaps best known for his thesis combining economic sociology and the sociology of religion, elaborated in his book The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, in which he proposed that ascetic Protestantism was one of the major "elective affinities" associated with the rise in the Western world of market-driven capitalism and the rational-legal nation-state. Against Marx's "historical materialism," Weber emphasised the importance of cultural influences embedded in religion as a means for understanding the genesis of capitalism. The Protestant Ethic formed the earliest part in Weber's broader investigations into world religion: he would go on to examine the religions of China, the religions of India and ancient Judaism, with particular regard to the apparent non-development of capitalism in the corresponding societies, as well as to their differing forms of social stratification. In another major work, Politics as a Vocation, Weber defined the state as an entity which successfully claims a "monopoly on the legitimate use of violence". He was also the first to categorize social authority into distinct forms, which he labelled as charismatic, traditional, and rational-legal. His analysis of bureaucracy emphasised that modern state institutions are increasingly based on rational-legal authority. Weber also made a variety of other contributions in economic history, as well as economic theory and methodology. Weber's analysis of modernity and rationalisation significantly influenced the critical theory associated with the Frankfurt School. After the First World War, Max Weber was among the founders of the liberal German Democratic Party. He also ran unsuccessfully for a seat in parliament and served as advisor to the committee that drafted the ill-fated democratic Weimar Constitution of 1919. After contracting the Spanish flu, he died of pneumonia in 1920, aged 56.

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Lawrence Lessig
Lawrence Lessig, 2001

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