The Society Portal

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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.

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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Gay march celebrating Pride Day and legalization of same-sex marriage
Same-sex marriage in Spain was legalized in 2005. In 2004, the new Socialist government, led by President José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, began a campaign for its legalization, which would include adoption by same-sex couples. After much debate, a law permitting same-sex marriage was passed by the Cortes Generales (Spain's bicameral parliament composed of the Senate and the Congress of Deputies). Same-sex marriage officially became legal in Spain on Sunday, 3 July 2005. The ratification of this law has not been devoid of conflict, despite support from 66% of Spaniards. Catholic authorities in particular were adamantly opposed to it, fearing the weakening of the meaning of marriage. After its approval, the conservative People's Party challenged the law in Constitutional Court. Approximately 4,500 same-sex couples have married in Spain during the first year of the law.

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Vanity FairCredit: Artist: Ethel McClellan Plummer; Restoration: Lise Broer

The cover to the June 1914 issue of Vanity Fair, an American magazine published from 1913 to 1936 by Condé Montrose Nast, the first of many published by his company Condé Nast Publications. Nast purchased a men's fashion magazine titled Dress in 1913 and renamed it Dress, and Vanity Fair. In 1914, the title was shortened to Vanity Fair. During its run, it competed with The New Yorker as the American establishment's top culture chronicle and featured writing by Thomas Wolfe, T. S. Eliot, P. G. Wodehouse, and Dorothy Parker. However, it became a casualty of the Great Depression and declining advertising revenues, and it was folded into Vogue in 1936. In 1983, Condé Nast revived the title as a new publication.

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?

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Ernest Jones (back middle)

Selected biography

A 1972 FBI composite drawing of D. B. Cooper
D. B. Cooper is the name commonly used to refer to a hijacker who, on November 24 1971, after receiving a ransom payout of US$200,000, jumped from the back of a Boeing 727 as it was flying over the Pacific Northwest of the United States possibly over Woodland, Washington. Despite hundreds of suspects through the years, no conclusive evidence has surfaced regarding Cooper's identity or whereabouts. The FBI believes he did not survive the jump. Several theories offer competing explanations of what happened after his famed jump. The nature of Cooper's escape and the uncertainty of his fate continue to intrigue people. The Cooper case remains an unsolved mystery. It has baffled both government and private investigators for decades, with countless leads turning into dead ends. In March 2008, the FBI thought it might have had one of the biggest breakthroughs in the case when children unearthed a parachute within the bounds of Cooper's probable jump site near the town of Amboy, Washington. Experts later determined that it did not belong to the hijacker. Still, despite the case's infamy for its enduring lack of evidence, a few significant clues have arisen.

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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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Errico Malatesta

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