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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 evinces 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.

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nternational Women's Day rally in Dhaka, Bangladesh, organized by the National Women Workers Trade Union Centre on 8 March 2005.
Feminism is a collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights for women. In addition, feminism seeks to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment. A Feminist is "an advocate or supporter of the rights and equality of women". Feminist theory, which emerged from these feminist movements, aims to understand the nature of gender inequality by examining women's social roles and lived experience; it has developed theories in a variety of disciplines in order to respond to issues such as the social construction of sex and gender. Some of the earlier forms of feminism have been criticized for taking into account only white, middle-class, educated perspectives. This led to the creation of ethnically specific or multiculturalist forms of feminism. Feminist activists campaign for women's rights – such as in contract law, property, and voting – while also promoting bodily integrity, autonomy, and reproductive rights for women. Feminist campaigns have changed societies, particularly in the West, by achieving women's suffrage, gender neutrality in English, equal pay for women, reproductive rights for women (including access to contraceptives and abortion), and the right to enter into contracts and own property. Feminists have worked to protect women and girls from domestic violence, sexual harassment, and sexual assault. They have also advocated for workplace rights, including maternity leave, and against forms of discrimination against women. Feminism is mainly focused on women's issues, but because feminism seeks gender equality, some feminists argue that men's liberation is a necessary part of feminism, and that men are also harmed by sexism and gender roles.

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Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr HydeCredit: Poster: National Prtg. & Engr. Co.; Restoration: PLW

An 1880s poster for Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, a novella by Robert Louis Stevenson known for its vivid portrayal of a split personality, wherein within the same person there is both an apparently good and an evil personality, quite distinct from each other. It was a huge success, with over 40,000 copies sold in the first six months after publication.

Did you know...

McLeave's Lock on the Lagan Canal

  • ... that the Lagan Canal (pictured) was once one of the most successful canals in Ireland but closed in the 1950s after succumbing to competition from road and rail transport?
  • ... that in response to the Norwegian butter crisis, Danish people have donated thousands of packs to butter-starved Norwegians?
  • ... that Natchez Indians attacked French colonists in Louisiana in 1729, killing over 240 people?

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Chinese Society Halls on Maui

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Max Weber
Maximilian Karl Emil "Max" Weber (German: [ˈmaks ˈveːbɐ]; 21 April 1864 – 14 June 1920) was a German sociologist, philosopher, and political economist who profoundly influenced social theory, social research, and the discipline of sociology itself. Weber is often cited, with Émile Durkheim and Karl Marx, as one of the three founding architects of sociology. Weber was a key proponent of methodological antipositivism, arguing for the study of social action through interpretive (rather than purely empiricist) means, based on understanding the purpose and meaning that individuals attach to their own actions. Weber's main intellectual concern was understanding the processes of rationalisation, secularization, and "disenchantment" that he associated with the rise of capitalism and modernity and which he saw as the result of a new way of thinking about the world. Weber is perhaps best known for his thesis combining economic sociology and the sociology of religion, elaborated in his book The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, in which he proposed that ascetic Protestantism was one of the major "elective affinities" associated with the rise in the Western world of market-driven capitalism and the rational-legal nation-state. Against Marx's "historical materialism," Weber emphasised the importance of cultural influences embedded in religion as a means for understanding the genesis of capitalism. The Protestant Ethic formed the earliest part in Weber's broader investigations into world religion: he would go on to examine the religions of China, the religions of India and ancient Judaism, with particular regard to the apparent non-development of capitalism in the corresponding societies, as well as to their differing forms of social stratification. In another major work, Politics as a Vocation, Weber defined the state as an entity which successfully claims a "monopoly on the legitimate use of violence". He was also the first to categorize social authority into distinct forms, which he labelled as charismatic, traditional, and rational-legal. His analysis of bureaucracy emphasised that modern state institutions are increasingly based on rational-legal authority. Weber also made a variety of other contributions in economic history, as well as economic theory and methodology. Weber's analysis of modernity and rationalisation significantly influenced the critical theory associated with the Frankfurt School. After the First World War, Max Weber was among the founders of the liberal German Democratic Party. He also ran unsuccessfully for a seat in parliament and served as advisor to the committee that drafted the ill-fated democratic Weimar Constitution of 1919. After contracting the Spanish flu, he died of pneumonia in 1920, aged 56.

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A recording of the Welsh national anthem, "Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau" (composed in January 1856 by James James, with words by his father Evan James), sung by Madge Breese for the Gramophone Company on 11 March 1899.

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Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essays, First Series (1841)

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