A society, or a human society, is a group of people related to each other through persistent relations, or a large social grouping sharing the same geographical or virtual territory, 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.

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, a society may be described as an economic, social, or industrial infrastructure, made up of a varied collection of individuals. 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 even, though more by means of metaphor, refer to a social organism such as an ant colony or any cooperative aggregate such as, for example, in some formulations of artificial intelligence.

Read more about Society:  Etymology and Usage, Conceptions of Society, Types of Societies, Contemporary Usage

Famous quotes containing the word society:

    Society is held together by our need; we bind it together with legend, myth, coercion, fearing that without it we will be hurled into that void, within which, like the earth before the Word was spoken, the foundations of society are hidden.
    James Baldwin (1924–1987)

    The growing of food and the growing of children are both vital to the family’s survival.... Who would dare make the judgment that holding your youngest baby on your lap is less important than weeding a few more yards in the maize field? Yet this is the judgment our society makes constantly. Production of autos, canned soup, advertising copy is important. Housework—cleaning, feeding, and caring—is unimportant.
    Debbie Taylor (20th century)

    Who can measure the advantages that would result if the magnificent abilities of these women could be devoted to the needs of government, society and home, instead of being consumed in the struggle to obtain their birthright of individual freedom? Until this be gained we can never know, we can not even prophesy the capacity and power of women for the uplifting of humanity.
    Susan B. Anthony (1820–1906)