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Portal:Society

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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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The Norslunda Runestone, bearing runic inscription U 419, which mentions the personal name Kylfingr
The Kylfings were a people of uncertain origin who were active in Northern Europe during the Viking Age. They were active from roughly the late ninth century through the early twelfth century and could be found in areas of Lapland, Russia, and the Byzantine Empire that were frequented by Scandinavian traders, raiders and mercenaries. Scholars differ on whether the Kylfings were ethnically Finnic or Norse. Their geographic origin is also disputed; Denmark, Sweden and the Eastern Baltic are put forward as candidates. Whether the name Kylfing denotes a particular tribal, socio-political, or economic grouping is a matter of much debate. They are mentioned in Old Norse runestone inscriptions, sagas, and poetry, as well as Byzantine records and Rus' law-codes, in which they were afforded significant economic and social privileges. According to the sagas, the Kylfings opposed the consolidation of Norway under Harald Fairhair and participated in the pivotal Battle of Hafrsfjord. After Harald's victory in that battle, they are described in the sagas as having raided in Finnmark and elsewhere in northern Norway and having fought against Harald's lieutenants such as Thorolf Kveldulfsson.

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Calydonian BoarCredit: Engraving: François Louis Lonsing, after Giulio Romano; Restoration: Adam Cuerden

A 1773 engraving showing the Greek legend of the Calydonian Boar, which was sent by Artemis to ravage the region of Calydon in Aetolia because its king failed to honor her in his rites to the gods. Many Olympian heroes took part in hunting the boar, and it was eventually killed by Meleager and Atalanta, as depicted here.

Did you know...

An emaciated child and adult

  • ... that emaciation (pictured) is referred to as "shosha roga" in India, where more than 200 million people are affected by malnutrition?
  • ... that the Prison Officers Association threatened a job action when it was announced that both Birmingham and Oakwood Prisons were to be contracted to security company G4S?
  • ... that Albanian philosopher and poet Arshi Pipa was imprisoned for ten years because he antagonized the communist regime in Albania with his recitation of a verse by Goethe?

Anniversaries this month

American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

Selected biography

Margaret Fuller
Margaret Fuller (1810–1850) was a journalist, critic and women's rights activist. She was the first full-time female book reviewer in journalism. She became the first editor of the transcendental publication The Dial in 1840 before joining the staff of the New York Tribune in 1844. By the time she was in her 30s, Fuller had earned a reputation as the most well-read person in New England, male or female. Her seminal work, Woman in the Nineteenth Century, was published in 1845 and is considered the first major feminist work in the United States. Fuller was an advocate of women's rights and, in particular, women's education and the right to employment. She also encouraged many other reforms in society, including prison reform and the emancipation of slaves in the United States. Fuller became involved with the revolution in Italy and allied herself with Giuseppe Mazzini. She also met Giovanni Ossoli, with whom she had a child. All three members of the family died in a shipwreck in 1850. Fuller's body was never recovered. Shortly after Fuller's death her importance faded; the editors who prepared her letters to be published, believing her fame would be short-lived, were not concerned about accuracy and censored or altered much of her words before publication.

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The full audio recording of the inaugural address made by Barack Obama after being sworn in as the forty-fourth President of the United States on January 20, 2009. (Duration: 18 minutes, 57 seconds)

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John Stuart Mill
John Stuart Mill, Dissertations and Discussions (1859)

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