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
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
dominance patterns in subgroups.
Societies construct patterns of behavior by deeming certain actions or speech 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
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. (