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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.

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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Azerbaijani people
The Azerbaijani people are an ethnic group largely found in northwestern Iran and the Republic of Azerbaijan. The Azerbaijanis, commonly referred to as Azeris, live in a wider area from the Caucasus to the Iranian plateau. The Azeris are normally at least nominally Muslim and have a mixed cultural heritage of Turkic, Iranian, and Caucasian elements. Despite living on both sides of an international border, the Azeris form a single group. However, northerners and southerners differ due to nearly two centuries of separate social evolution in Russian/Soviet-influenced Azerbaijan and Iranian Azarbaijan. The Azerbaijani language unifies Azeris and is mutually intelligible with Turkmen and Turkish. As a result of this separate existence, the Azeris are mainly secularists in Azerbaijan and religious Muslims in Iranian Azarbaijan. Since Azerbaijan's independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, there has been renewed interest in religion and cross-border ethnic ties.

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Compromise of 1850Credit: Artist: Peter F. Rothermel; Engraver: Robert Whitechurch; Restoration: Lise Broer and Jujutacular

U.S. Senator Henry Clay gives a speech in the Old Senate Chamber calling for compromise on the issues dividing the United States. The result was the Compromise of 1850, a package of five bills, the first two of which were passed on September 9. Ironically, these led to a breakdown in the spirit of compromise in the years preceding the Civil War, particularly after the deaths of Clay and Daniel Webster.

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Yuezhi king and attendants

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

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Mike Godwin
Mike Godwin, 1994

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Laozi (Chinese: 老子; pinyin: Lǎozǐ; Wade–Giles: Lao Tzu; also romanized as Lao Tse, Lao Tu, Lao-Tsu, Laotze, Laosi, Laocius, and other variations) (fl. 6th century BCE) was a philosopher of ancient China, best known as the author of the Tao Te Ching (often simply referred to as Laozi). His association with the Tào Té Chīng has led him to be traditionally considered the founder of philosophical Taoism (pronounced as "Daoism"). He is also revered as a deity in most religious forms of Taoist philosophy, which often refers to Laozi as Taishang Laojun, or "One of the Three Pure Ones". According to Chinese traditions, Laozi lived in the 6th century BCE. Some historians contend that he actually lived in the 5th–4th century BCE, concurrent with the Hundred Schools of Thought and Warring States period, while some others argue that Laozi is a synthesis of multiple historical figures or that he is a mythical figure. A central figure in Chinese culture, both nobility and common people claim Laozi in their lineage. He was honored as an ancestor of the Tang imperial family, and was granted the title Táishāng xuānyuán huángdì, meaning "Supreme Mysterious and Primordial Emperor". Throughout history, Laozi's work has been embraced by various anti-authoritarian movements.

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