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Portal:Society

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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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Kavadi dancers in Hamm, Germany in 2007
The Tamil people are an ethnic group from South Asia with a recorded history going back almost two millennia. The oldest Tamil communities are those of southern India and north-eastern Sri Lanka. Unlike many ethnic groups, the Tamils have at no time been governed by a single political entity; Tamil̲akam, the traditional name for the Tamil lands, has always been under the rule of more than one kingdom or state. Despite this, the Tamil cultural identity has always been strong. Historically, this identity has been primarily linguistic, with Tamils being those whose first language was Tamil. In recent times, however, the definition has been broadened to also include emigrants of Tamil descent who maintain Tamil traditions, even when they no longer speak the language. Tamils are ethnically, linguistically and culturally related to the other Dravidian peoples of South Asia. There are an estimated 74 million Tamils around the world.

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Compromise of 1850Credit: Artist: Peter F. Rothermel; Engraver: Robert Whitechurch; Restoration: Lise Broer and Jujutacular

U.S. Senator Henry Clay gives a speech in the Old Senate Chamber calling for compromise on the issues dividing the United States. The result was the Compromise of 1850, a package of five bills, the first two of which were passed on September 9. Ironically, these led to a breakdown in the spirit of compromise in the years preceding the Civil War, particularly after the deaths of Clay and Daniel Webster.

Did you know...

An emaciated child and adult

  • ... that emaciation (pictured) is referred to as "shosha roga" in India, where more than 200 million people are affected by malnutrition?
  • ... that the Prison Officers Association threatened a job action when it was announced that both Birmingham and Oakwood Prisons were to be contracted to security company G4S?
  • ... that Albanian philosopher and poet Arshi Pipa was imprisoned for ten years because he antagonized the communist regime in Albania with his recitation of a verse by Goethe?

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

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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.

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Henry George
Henry George, Social Problems, Chapter IX.
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