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:
“Modern children were considerably less innocent than parents and the larger society supposed, and postmodern children are less competent than their parents and the society as a whole would like to believe. . . . The perception of childhood competence has shifted much of the responsibility for child protection and security from parents and society to children themselves.”
—David Elkind (20th century)
“The country is fed up with children and their problems. For the first time in history, the differences in outlook between people raising children and those who are not are beginning to assume some political significance. This difference is already a part of the conflicts in local school politics. It may spread to other levels of government. Society has less time for the concerns of those who raise the young or try to teach them.”
—Joseph Featherstone (20th century)