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What is society? Show more Show less
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Societies have been a core part of human interaction since the beginning of mankind. But what is society? A shared geography? A shared culture? Coming together to work towards a shared goal? Do they even exist?

Society means different things to different people Show more Show less

There is no universal definition or attribute all societies have. The idea of society means different things to different populations.
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Each society is vastly different

Societies are not generic constructs. Each society is unique.
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Context

A society in rural Tanzania looks very different to a society in a thriving North American metropolis. The societies in these places have different structures, different cultures, different values, and are different entities.

The Argument

A Bedouin society, which consists of modern-day nomads, clearly places no importance of emphasis on a clearly defined territory. By contrast, Palestinian society, which has doggedly resisted the occupation of its lands, places an enormous importance on geographical territory. In the industrial societies of the nineteenth centuries, some elements of society sought enormous wealth for themselves and their family, while others were left to live in abstract poverty and squalid conditions. These societies could hardly be described as working towards a common good. Following the rise of social media, post-industrial societies are structured around the dissemination of knowledge. They are far more likely to be divided by knowledge and in the political sense, what they know (suspect) to be true. Each of these societies is vastly different. There is no single thread connecting all of them which can be identified as the ‘essence’ of what a society is.[1]

Counter arguments

There are theories of society that can adequately encompass all of these types of societies into one definition. In both the Tanzanian wilderness and the busy North American city, all active participants in a society are coming together under a common goal: human survival. Just because survival in rural Africa looks different to survival in North America doesn’t mean the societies are fundamentally different. They are not. In the Maasai village and the New York penthouse, individuals are cooperating in order to survive. This is a society.

Framing

Some societies form around a shared territory, some from a shared culture, others from a piece of shared knowledge. There is no universal unified around which all societies converge on.

Premises

[P1] Each society is vastly different. [P2] Therefore, there is no universal definition of what a society is. [P3] Therefore, society is different things to different people.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1] They all have one shared attribute; they are formed on the basis of a shared goal.

References

  1. https://opentextbc.ca/introductiontosociology/chapter/chapter4-society-and-social-interaction/
This page was last edited on Friday, 6 Mar 2020 at 12:16 UTC

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