What is society? What are the characteristics of society?


The term “society” refers to a group of people who are in reciprocal relationships. We can define it as-

A large number of people who live in the same area,  who have similarities or likeliness in need, activities, ideals, norms, values, etc., differences in appearance, personality, talents, attitudes, etc., and members cooperate and share common interests.

In his book Sociology, Richard T. Schaefer (2013) defined society as a group of people who live in the same area but are different and independent from the people in other areas and share the same culture.

We can compare society with one of the primitive creations of human beings. Because from the beginning of group life in primitive period, human society had begun a new chapter of social life.

To be a society, there must be a group of people and there must be an organized or unorganized, direct or indirect relationship between them. Conflict and revolution also part of societies. From Marx and other dialectic theorists, we learn more about the social order formation which rises from conflict. Societies are viewed by social evolution theorists through the lens of biological evolution theory. They believe that societies have evolved in the same way that humans and other animals have.

There are millions of social systems in the world but all of them have gone through social change. That is why we see a kind of social system in Asia but not in Europe or Africa.

Characteristics of Society

  • Composed of People
  • Continuous reciprocal interactions and interrelationship among members
  • Likeliness or similarity like need, activities, ideals values, etc.
  • Differences like looks, personality, talents, attitudes, etc.
  • Members have cooperation and shared common interests
  • Responsibilities held by means of division of labors

For instance-

In south-east Asia, Bangladesh’s social system evolved in response to the agrarian economy of the country. Society here consists of a single or joint patriarchal family. The head of the society of the village is elected (land ownership, political representation, economic power, education, and other factors all have an impact on this process) from the head of the families and he decides on social customs, rituals, values, principle, resolution of conflict and so on.

Society Image By Theodore Goutas

                                                             A happy family captured in Rural Society of Bangladesh. Source: Theodore Goudas

When we look at Europe, we see education, administration, industrialization, and a modern system of conscious urban society not like the traditional social system in South Asia. Again, the traditional aspects of society can still be seen, despite the economic abundance of the Arab social system.

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