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.
Famous quotes containing the word society:
“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is in an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob, and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.”
—Frederick Douglass (c. 18171895)
“In the latter part of the seventeenth century, according to the historian of Dunstable, Towns were directed to erect a cage near the meeting-house, and in this all offenders against the sanctity of the Sabbath were confined. Society has relaxed a little from its strictness, one would say, but I presume that there is not less religion than formerly. If the ligature is found to be loosened in one part, it is only drawn the tighter in another.”
—Henry David Thoreau (18171862)
“In the ordinary course of things, how many succeed in society merely by virtue of their manners, while others, however meritorious, fail through lack of them? After all, its only barbarians who wear uncut precious stones.”
—Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl Chesterfield (16941773)