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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, and also applied to distinctive subsections of a larger society.

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. (Full article...)

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Map showing different regions that can be referred to as Macedonia
The definition of Macedonia is a major source of confusion due to the overlapping use of the term to describe geographical, political and historical areas, languages and peoples. Ethnic groups inhabiting the area use different terminology for the same entity, or the same terminology for different entities. Geographically, no single definition of its borders or the names of its subdivisions is accepted by all scholars and ethnic groups. Demographically, it is mainly inhabited by four ethnic groups, three of which self-identify as Macedonians: One Slavic group does so at a national level, while another, Bulgarians, as well as a Greek one do so at a regional level. Linguistically, the names and origins of the languages and dialects spoken in the region are a source of controversy. Politically, the use of the name Macedonia has led to a diplomatic dispute between Greece and the Republic of Macedonia. Despite intervention from the United Nations, the dispute is still pending full resolution.

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Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr HydeCredit: Poster: National Prtg. & Engr. Co.; Restoration: PLW

An 1880s poster for Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, a novella by Robert Louis Stevenson known for its vivid portrayal of a split personality, wherein within the same person there is both an apparently good and an evil personality, quite distinct from each other. It was a huge success, with over 40,000 copies sold in the first six months after publication.

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Max Weber
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. (Full article...)

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  • The 11th-century "Victimae Paschali Laudes", traditionally attributed to Wipo of Burgundy, is one of the few traditional Latin "sequences" still used by the Roman Catholic Church today.
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