The Society Portal
A society is a group of individuals involved in persistent social interaction, or a large social group sharing the same geographical 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.
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, 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.
is the study of society
. It is a social science
which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity. For many sociologists the goal is to conduct research which may be applied directly to social policy
and welfare, while others focus primarily on refining the theoretical understanding of social processes. Subject matter ranges from the micro
level of individual agency
and interaction to the macro
level of systems and the social structure
. The traditional focuses of sociology have included social stratification
, social class
, social mobility
, and deviance
. As all spheres of human activity are affected by the interplay between social structure and individual agency
, sociology has gradually expanded its focus to further subjects, such as health
and penal institutions
, the Internet
, and the role of social activity in the development of scientific knowledge
. The range of social scientific methods has also expanded. Social researchers
draw upon a variety of qualitative
techniques. The linguistic
and cultural turns
of the mid-twentieth century led to increasingly interpretative
, and philosophic
approaches to the analysis of society. Conversely, recent decades have seen the rise of new analytically
rigorous techniques, such as agent-based modelling
and social network analysis
. Sociology should not be confused with various general social studies
courses which bear little relation to sociological theory or social science research methodology.
Did you know...
Anniversaries this month
was a prominent Athenian
statesman, orator, and general. The last famous member of an aristocratic family that fell from prominence after the Peloponnesian War
, he played a major role in the second half of that conflict as a strategic advisor, military commander, and politician. During the course of the Peloponnesian War, Alcibiades changed his allegiance on several occasions. In his native Athens in the early 410s BC, he advocated for an aggressive foreign policy, and was a prominent proponent of the Sicilian Expedition
, but fled to Sparta
after his political enemies brought charges of sacrilege against him. In the years that he served Sparta, Alcibiades played a crucial role in Athens' undoing; the capture of Decelea
and the revolts of several critical Athenian subjects occurred either at his suggestion or under his supervision. Once restored to his native city, however, he played a crucial role in a string of Athenian victories that eventually brought Sparta to seek a peace with Athens. He favored unconventional tactics, frequently winning cities over by treachery or negotiation rather than by siege. Alcibiades' military and political talents frequently proved valuable to whichever state currently held his allegiance, but his capacity for making powerful enemies ensured that he never remained in one place for long, and, by the end of the war that he had helped rekindle in the early 410s, his days of political relevance were a bygone memory.
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