The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to society:
Society – group of people sharing the same geographical or virtual territory and therefore subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations. Such people share a distinctive culture and institutions, which characterize the patterns of social relations between them. Large societies typically develop social stratification and dominance patterns among its subgroups. A given society may be described as the sum total of social relationships among its members. The branch of science that studies society is sociology.
What type of thing is a society?
A society can be described as all of the following:
Types of societies
- Humanity – the entire human race. As a whole, it can be viewed as one great big society.
In anthropology: by methods of subsistence
- Pre-industrial society
- Industrial society
- Post-industrial society
In sociology and political science
- by political structure:
- by modernity:
Aspects or features of societies
- Communities (outline) – while a society is a type of community, it can itself comprise smaller communities.
- Culture (outline) – Shared culture can create sub communities of people within a society due to their shared attitudes, values, goals and practices (ref: Woodward, K., (2004) Questioning Identity: gender, class, ethnicity, Milton Keynes, The Open University).
- Economy (outline)
- Education (outline)
- Identity – Interaction with others within our society helps shape our identity (along with our gender, class & cultural origins), and a shared society can promote a sense of shared identity (ref: Woodward, K., (2004) Questioning Identity: gender, class, ethnicity, Milton Keynes, The Open University).
- Infrastructure – see Infrastructure section, below
- Institutions – see Social institutions section, below
- Natural resources
- Politics (outline)
- Social control
- Social structure
- Technology and society (outline)
- Public infrastructure
- Private infrastructure
Social institution – Any persistent structure or mechanism of social order governing the behaviour of a set of individuals within a given community. The term "institution" is commonly applied to customs and behavior patterns important to a society, as well as to particular formal organizations of government and public services.
- Marriage and the family
- Religion (outline) and religious institutions – see sociology of religion; civil religion
- Educational institutions – schools (preschool, primary/elementary, secondary, and post-secondary/higher – see Sociology of education)
- Research community – Academia and universities; research institutes – see sociology of science
- Medicine – hospitals and other health care institutions – see sociology of health and illness, medical sociology
- Law (outline) and legal system – courts; judges; the legal profession (bar) – see jurisprudence, philosophy of law, sociology of law
- Military (outline) – (See also military sociology).
- Police forces
- Mass media – including the news media (television, newspapers) and the popular media – see media studies
- Industry – businesses, including corporations – see financial institution, factory, capitalism, division of labour, social class, industrial sociology
- Civil society or NGOs – Charitable organizations; advocacy groups; political parties; think tanks; virtual communities
- Social change
Stages of sociocultural evolution
Sociocultural evolution – below are listed some typical and some potential stages of progression in the evolution of cultures and societies:
- Pre-industrial society
- Industrial Revolution
- Informational Revolution
- Information society
- Globalization – process by which the world is becoming more interconnected, being integrated into a unified global community, through the interchange — of world views, products, ideas and other aspects of culture — made possible by technological advancements in communication and transportation and the dissemination of knowledge those bring.
- World government? – notion of a single common political authority (global state) for all of humanity. Currently there is no worldwide executive, legislature, judiciary, military, or constitution with jurisdiction over the entire planet. The United Nations is limited to a mostly advisory role, and its stated purpose is to foster cooperation between existing national governments rather than exert authority over them.
- Space colonization? – hypothetical expansion of the human race into outer space: to the moon, to other planets or moons, or in space stations.
- Technological singularity? (TS) – hypothetical result that may occur if and when strong AI (artificial intelligence at least as smart as a human) is developed. Such AIs would be recursive, and therefore able to improve themselves (or each other) at an increasingly rapid rate to super intelligence. Technological advancements implemented by such entities would probably be so profound and come so quickly that it seems unlikely anyone could reliably forecast what such a future would be like — like a black hole, a singularity we cannot see.
Forces of societal change
- Connections – James Burke presented in this TV series his hypothesis that the entire gestalt of the modern world is the result of a web of interconnected events, each one consisting of a person or group acting for reasons of their own motivations (e.g., profit, curiosity, religious) with no concept of the final, modern result to which the actions of either them or their contemporaries would lead. The interplay of the results of these isolated events is what drives history and innovation.
- Economic forces
- Human migration – Migration can impact on our identity since it may be difficult to feel a sense of belonging in a new society. Human migration can also introduce new cultural values to a society (ref: Held, D., (2004) A globalizing world? Culture, economics and politics, London Routeledge/The Open University).
- Population change
- Social conflict
- Social disintegration
- Social movement
- Societal collapse
- Technological change
History of society
- History of civilization
- Society-related history
- Sociocultural evolution
Study of society: sociology
- Sociology – Scientific study of society. This social science directs methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis upon human social activity, focusing on the influence of relationships and how they affect attitudes and behaviours. Sociologists conduct research to refine the theoretical understanding of social processes, or for application to social policy and welfare.
- Place these
- Outline of society at Curlie
- Definition of Society from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
- Lecture notes on "Defining Society" from East Carolina University.
- Cliff Notes on Types of Societies
- Industrial revolution
- Internet Modern History Sourcebook: Industrial Revolution
- "The Day the World Took Off" Six part video series from the University of Cambridge tracing the question "Why did the Industrial Revolution begin when and where it did."
- BBC History Home Page: Industrial Revolution
- National Museum of Science and Industry website: machines and personalities
- Industrial Revolution and the Standard of Living by Clark Nardinelli - the debate over whether standards of living rose or fell.