The concept of society can be traced back to the fourteenth century. However, proper sociological meaning of society was not developed until the nineteenth century. The term Society is the most fundamental concept in sociology. Society can be defined as a group of people involved in persistent interpersonal relationships or a large social grouping sharing the same social territory or geographical area, typically subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations and feel themselves to constitute a unified and distinct entity. Society in short is the mutual interactions and interrelations of individuals and groups.
Origin of the word Society:
The word Society is derived from the Latin word socius which means companionship, associate, friendship, or business partner. According to George Simmel, society is this element of sociability which defines the true essence of society.
Other definitions on Society by various Sociologists:
- Ginsberg: A Society is a collection of individuals united by certain relations or modes of behaviour which mark them off from others who do not enter into these relations or who differ from them in behaviour.
- Lapiere: The term Society refers not to group of people, but to the complex pattern of the norms of interaction, which arise among and between them.
- Giddings: Society is the union itself, the organization, the sum of formal relations in which associating individuals are bound together.
- MacIver and Page: Society is a system of usages and procedures, of authority and mutual aid, of many groupings and divisions, of controls of human behaviour and of liberties. This ever- changing complex system, we call it as society.
- Morris Ginsberg: According to Morris society as a collection of individuals united by certain relations or mode of behaviour which mark them off from others who do not enter into these relations or who differ from them in behaviour.
- Adam Smith: Society is an artificial device of Natural Economy.
- Cooley: According to Cooley, Society is a complex of forms or processes each of which is living and growing by interaction with the other, the whole being so unified that what takes place in one part affects all the rest.
The following are some of the conceptualizations of society:
- Capitalist society
- Industrial society
- Post-industrial society
- Postmodern society
- Risk society
- The knowledge society
- The network society
Important characteristics of the society:
- Society is dynamic and changeable.
- Society is abstract.
- Society is the web of social relationship.
- Society is a group of persons with a common interest, belief, or purpose historical societies.
- Society is a process not a product.
- Society is a self-sufficient social system.
- Society involves both likeness and difference.
- society is an ever-changing complex system.
- In a society all members depend upon each other.
- People of the same society share aspects of their culture, such as language or beliefs.
- Society is the largest group in which individual have relationships.
- Permanency is an important characteristic of society.
- Society continues to exist even after the death of individual members.
- In a society everyone has a particular role to perform as per their caste and education i.e., division of labour.
- According to Durkheim, once a society achieves organic solidarity, it has finished its development.
- Society preserves culture and also transmits it to the future generations. Thus, society is the store and center of human culture.
- Society has a pattern of norms of interaction by which the members of the society maintain themselves.
- Society is a system of usages and procedures, authority and mutual aid, of many groupings and divisions, of human behaviour and of liberties.
- Society is cooperation crossed by conflict i.e., Society is based on cooperation but because of internal differences, there is conflict also among its members.
- Society is an organization of persons which guarantees security to the members of their individuality and existence.