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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 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 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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A view of the Earth from space.
Sustainability is the capacity to endure through renewal, maintenance, and sustenance, or nourishment, in contrast to durability, the capacity to endure through unchanging resistance to change. For humans in social systems or ecosystems, sustainability is the long-term maintenance of responsibility, which has environmental, economic, and social dimensions, and encompasses the concept of stewardship, the responsible management of resource use. In ecology, sustainability describes how biological systems remain diverse, robust, and productive over time, a necessary precondition for the well-being of humans and other organisms. Long-lived and healthy wetlands and forests are examples of sustainable biological systems. Robust, diverse, productive ecosystems and environments provide vital resources and processes (known as "ecosystem services"). There are two major ways of managing human impact on ecosystem services. One approach is environmental management; this approach is based largely on information gained from educated professionals in earth science, environmental science, and conservation biology. Another approach is management of consumption of resources, which is based largely on information gained from educated professionals in economics.

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Boxer RebellionCredit: Artist: Kasai Torajir; Restoration: Staxringold

Japanese and British troops attack members of the Society of Righteous and Harmonious Fists ("Boxers") at Beijing Castle during the Boxer Rebellion of 1899C1901. The Boxers, angered by foreign imperialist expansion into Qing dynasty China, had engaged in looting, arson, and killings of foreigners. In 1900, the Empress Dowager Cixi employed the Boxers to attack foreign settlements in Beijing. The uprising was eventually put down by 20,000 troops from the Eight-Nation Alliance.

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E. Urner Goodman
E. Urner Goodman
E. Urner Goodman was an influential leader in the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) movement for much of the twentieth century. Goodman was the national program director from 1931 until 1951, during the organization's formative years of significant growth when the Cub Scouting and Exploring programs were established. He developed the BSA's national training center in the early 1930s and was responsible for publication of the widely read Boy Scout Handbook and other Scouting books, writing the Leaders Handbook used by Scout leaders in the United States during the 1930s and 1940s. In the 1950s, Goodman was Executive Director of Men's Work for the National Council of Churches in New York City and active in church work. Goodman is best remembered today for having created the Order of the Arrow, a popular and highly successful program of the BSA which continues to honor Scouts for their cheerful service. Since its founding in 1915, the Order of the Arrow has grown to become a nationwide program having thousands of members, which recognizes those Scouts who best exemplify the virtues of cheerful service, camping, and leadership by membership in BSA's honor society. As of 2007, the Order of the Arrow has more than 183,000 members. (Full article...)

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