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The Society Portal

World Summit on the Information Society, Geneva

World Summit on the Information Society, Geneva

A 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 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 concepts 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 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. (Full article...)

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Girl Scouts learning at NASA
The Girl Scouts of the United States of America (GSUSA) is a youth organization for girls in the United States and American girls living abroad. The Girl Scout program developed from the concerns of the progressive movement in the United States from people who sought to promote the social welfare of young women and as a female counterpart to the Boy Scouts of America. It was founded by Juliette Gordon Low in 1912 and is based on the Scouting principles developed by Robert Baden-Powell. The GSUSA uses the Scout method to build self-esteem and to teach values such as honesty, fairness, courage, compassion, character, sisterhood, confidence, and citizenship through activities including camping, community service, learning first aid, and earning numerous badges that can teach lifelong skills. Girl Scouts are recognized for their achievements through rank advancement and various special awards. GSUSA has programs for girls with special interests, such as water-based activities. Membership is organized according to age levels with activities appropriate to each age group.

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Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
Credit: Poster: National Prtg. & Engr. Co.; Restoration: PLW

An 1880s poster for Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, a novella by Robert Louis Stevenson known for its vivid portrayal of a split personality, wherein within the same person there is both an apparently good and an evil personality, quite distinct from each other. It was a huge success, with over 40,000 copies sold in the first six months after publication.

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Tuareg people

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Chinese Society Halls on Maui

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“ I think now films are reflecting the exact same thing that goes on in society today which is for the first time since then people are sitting at restaurants and having conversations about their concerns or their beliefs in the political system and I think that films reflect that. We're not good first responder films. We have to write a script after things happen. We have to direct it. We have to shoot it. We have to edit it and release it. So, in general we tend to be, you know, is there a liberal bend, sure. I don't make any apologies about that. I'm a liberal, you know. I believe in it. ” — George Clooney, 2006

Selected biography

Alcibiades
Alcibiades
Alcibiades was a prominent Athenian statesman, orator, and general. The last famous member of an aristocratic family that fell from prominence after the Peloponnesian War, he played a major role in the second half of that conflict as a strategic advisor, military commander, and politician. During the course of the Peloponnesian War, Alcibiades changed his allegiance on several occasions. In his native Athens in the early 410s BC, he advocated for an aggressive foreign policy, and was a prominent proponent of the Sicilian Expedition, but fled to Sparta after his political enemies brought charges of sacrilege against him. In the years that he served Sparta, Alcibiades played a crucial role in Athens' undoing; the capture of Decelea and the revolts of several critical Athenian subjects occurred either at his suggestion or under his supervision. Once restored to his native city, however, he played a crucial role in a string of Athenian victories that eventually brought Sparta to seek a peace with Athens. He favored unconventional tactics, frequently winning cities over by treachery or negotiation rather than by siege. Alcibiades' military and political talents frequently proved valuable to whichever state currently held his allegiance, but his capacity for making powerful enemies ensured that he never remained in one place for long, and, by the end of the war that he had helped rekindle in the early 410s, his days of political relevance were a bygone memory. (Full article...)
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  • An 1890 recording of Walt Whitman reading the opening four lines of his poem "America", from his collection Leaves of Grass.
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