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Portal:Society

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Cleric, knight and Peasant; an example of feudal societies
Cleric, knight and Peasant; example of feudal societies

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 concepts 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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Young Toraja girls at a wedding ceremony
The Toraja are an ethnic group indigenous to a mountainous region of South Sulawesi, Indonesia. Their population is approximately 650,000, of which 450,000 still live in the regency of Tana Toraja. Most of the population is Christian, and others are Muslim or have local animist beliefs known as aluk ("the way"). Torajans are renowned for their elaborate funeral rites, burial sites carved into rocky cliffs, massive peaked-roof traditional houses known as tongkonan, and colorful wood carvings. Toraja funeral rites are important social events, usually attended by hundreds of people and lasting for several days. Before the twentieth century, Torajans lived in autonomous villages, where they practised animism and were relatively untouched by the outside world. In the early 1900s, Dutch missionaries first worked to convert Torajan highlanders to Christianity. When the Tana Toraja regency was further opened to the outside world in the 1970s, it became an icon of tourism in Indonesia: it was exploited by tourism developers and studied by anthropologists. By the 1990s, when tourism peaked, Toraja society had evolved significantly, from its agricultural beginnings into a largely Christian society.

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Execution of conspirators in Lincoln's assassinationCredit: Photo: Alexander Gardner; Restoration: Lise Broer

On July 7, 1865, at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C., Mary Surratt, Lewis Powell, David Herold, and George Atzerodt (shown left-to-right) were hanged for their roles in the assassination of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln. Eight people were convicted for the crime; three others were sentenced to life imprisonment, with the last receiving a six-year sentence. Mary Surratt's son John was able to escape and was never convicted for his role. His mother was the first woman to be executed by the United States federal government.

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Constitution of May 3, 1791

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The Red Cross and Red Crescent emblems, the symbols from which the movement derives its name.

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Alex Lifeson
Alex Lifeson, 1998

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Harriet Arbuthnot
Harriet Arbuthnot
Harriet Arbuthnot was an early 19th-century English diarist, social observer and political hostess on behalf of the Tory party. During the 1820s she was the "closest woman friend" of the hero of Waterloo and British Prime Minister, the 1st Duke of Wellington. She maintained a long correspondence and association with the Duke, all of which she recorded in her diaries, which are consequently extensively used in all authoritative biographies of the Duke of Wellington. Born into the periphery of the British aristocracy and married to a politician and member of the establishment, she was perfectly placed to meet all the key figures of the Regency and late Napoleonic eras. Recording meetings and conversations often verbatim, she has today become the "Mrs Arbuthnot" quoted in many biographies and histories of the era. Her observations and memories of life within the British establishment are not confined to individuals but document politics, great events and daily life with an equal attention to detail, providing historians with a clear picture of the events described. Her diaries were themselves finally published in 1950 as The Journal of Mrs Arbuthnot. (Full article...)

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