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Portal:Society

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The Society Portal

Ant (formicidae) social ethology

Ant (formicidae) social ethology


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.

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 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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Liberty Bell
The Liberty Bell is an iconic symbol of American independence. It was commissioned from the London firm of Lester and Pack (today the Whitechapel Bell Foundry) in 1752, and was inscribed with part of a verse from the Book of Leviticus: "Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof." It originally cracked when first rung after arrival in Philadelphia, and was twice recast by local workmen. The bell hung for years in the steeple of the Pennsylvania State House (today known as Independence Hall), and was used to summon lawmakers to legislative sessions and to alert citizens to public meetings and proclamations. Bells were rung to mark the reading of the American Declaration of Independence on July 8, 1776, and while there is no contemporary account of the Liberty Bell ringing, most historians believe it was one of the bells rung. It acquired its distinctive large crack sometime in the early 19th century—a widespread story claims it cracked while ringing after the death of Chief Justice John Marshall in 1835. The bell was moved from its longstanding home in Independence Hall to a nearby glass pavilion on Independence Mall in 1976, and then to the larger Liberty Bell Center adjacent to the pavilion in 2003.

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The Garden of Earthly Delights is a triptych by the early Netherlandish master Hieronymus Bosch. The left panel depicts God presenting Eve to Adam, while the central panel is a broad panorama of sexually engaged nude figures, fantastical animals, oversized fruit and hybrid stone formations. The right panel is a hellscape and portrays the torments of damnation. The intricacy of its symbolism, particularly that of the central panel, has led to a wide range of scholarly interpretations over the centuries.

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?

Anniversaries this month

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

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Sun Tzu
Sun Tzu was an ancient Chinese military general, strategist and philosopher who is traditionally believed to be the author of The Art of War, an influential ancient Chinese book on military strategy. Sun Tzu has had a significant impact on Chinese and Asian history and culture, both as an author of The Art of War and through legend. Sun Tzu, also known as Sun Tze or Sun Wu in other translations, was a historical figure whose authenticity is questioned by historians. This is a Chinese name which would usually mean the family name comes first however "Zi" (子; "Tzu" in Wade–Giles transliteration) was used as a suffix for the family name of a respectable man in ancient Chinese culture. In this case, 子 "Tzu" is not the personal or family name. It is a rough equivalent to "Sir" and is commonly translated into English as "Master". Traditional accounts place him in the Spring and Autumn period of China (722–481 BC) as a military general serving under King Helü of Wu, who lived c. 544–496 BC. Modern scholars accepting his historicity place the completion of The Art of War in the Warring States period (476–221 BC), based on the descriptions of warfare in the text, and on the similarity of text's prose to other works completed in the early Warring States period. Traditional accounts state that his descendant, Sun Bin, also wrote a treatise on military tactics, titled Sun Bin's Art of War. Both Sun Wu and Sun Bin were referred to as Sun Tzu in classical Chinese writings, and some historians believed that Sun Wu was in fact Sun Bin until Sun Bin's own treatise was discovered in 1972. During the 19th and 20th centuries, Sun Tzu's The Art of War grew in popularity and saw practical use in Western society. His work continues to influence both Asian and Western culture and politics.

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Frank C. Stanley's 1910 performance of Robert Burns' Auld Lang Syne. Contains the first and last verse.

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James A. Garfield

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