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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 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.

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Wehrmacht soldiers destroying Polish government insignia
Polish culture during World War II was suppressed by the occupying powers of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, both of whom were hostile to Poland's people and culture. Policies aimed at cultural genocide resulted in the deaths of thousands of scholars and artists, and the theft or destruction of innumerable cultural artifacts. British historian Niall Ferguson writes that "the maltreatment of the Poles was one of many ways in which the Nazi and Soviet regimes had grown to resemble one another". The occupiers looted or destroyed much of Poland's cultural heritage, while persecuting and killing members of the Polish cultural elite. Most Polish schools were closed, and those that remained open saw their curricula altered significantly. Nevertheless, underground organizations and individuals—in particular the Polish Underground State—saved much of Poland's most valuable cultural heritage, and worked to salvage as many cultural institutions and artifacts as possible. The Catholic Church and wealthy individuals contributed to the survival of some artists and their works. Despite severe retribution by the Nazis and Soviets, Polish underground cultural activities, including publications, concerts, live theater, education, and academic research, continued throughout the war.

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Megalith on Nias, IndonesiaCredit: Photo: Ludwig Borutta; Restoration: Lise Broer

Megaliths, some decorated, were a part of the culture of the island of Nias off the western coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. Among the many uses of these large stones were statues, seats for the chieftains, and tables where justice was done. Additionally, some stones commemorated the deaths of important people. In this 1915 photo, such a stone is hauled upwards, reportedly taking 525 people three days to erect in the village of Bawemataloeo.

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Daniel Lambert
Daniel Lambert (1770–1809) was a gaol keeper and animal breeder from Leicester, England, famous for his unusually large size. He was a keen sportsman and extremely strong, on one occasion fighting a bear in the streets of Leicester. He was an expert in sporting animals, widely respected for his expertise on dogs, horses and fighting cocks. In 1805 the gaol of which Lambert was keeper closed. By this time he weighed 50 stone (700 lb; 320 kg), and had become the heaviest authenticated person in recorded history up to that time. Unemployed and sensitive about his bulk, he became a recluse. Poverty forced Lambert to put himself on exhibition to raise money, and in April 1806 he moved to London, charging spectators to enter his apartments to meet him. Visitors were impressed by his intelligence and personality, and visiting him became highly fashionable. After a few months, Lambert returned wealthy to Leicester and soon began making short fundraising tours. In June 1809 he died suddenly in Stamford. At the time of his death he weighed 52 stone 11 lb (739 lb; 335 kg). It took 20 men almost half an hour to drag his casket into the trench in the burial ground at St Martin's Church. Though no longer the heaviest person in history, Lambert remains a popular character in Leicester.

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The sentence uttered by Neil Armstrong upon being the first human to walk on the moon during the Apollo 11 moon landing on July 21, 1969

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Alex Lifeson
Alex Lifeson, 1998

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