Society | Britannica

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  • ontological status
    • Detail of a Roman copy (2nd century bce) of a Greek alabaster portrait bust of Aristotle, c. 325 bce; in the collection of the Roman National Museum. In metaphysics: Basic particulars

      …individual persons or something larger—continuing societies or institutions—should be taken as basic particulars in that sphere. Many philosophers assert dogmatically that a society is nothing but an aggregate of its individual members. Nevertheless, men are members of society in virtue of their performance of a number of social roles, and…

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  • study in ekistics
    • In ekistics

      settlements. Ekistics involves the descriptive study of all kinds of human settlements and the formulation of general conclusions aimed at achieving harmony between the inhabitants of a settlement and their physical and sociocultural environments. Descriptive study involves the examination of the content, such as man…

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influence of

  • automation
    • Jacquard loom, engraving, 1874At the top of the machine is a stack of punched cards that would be fed into the loom to control the weaving pattern. This method of automatically issuing machine instructions was employed by computers well into the 20th century. In automation: Impact on society

      Besides affecting individual workers, automation has an impact on society in general. Productivity is a fundamental economic issue that is influenced by automation. The productivity of a process is traditionally defined as the ratio of output units to the units of labour input. A…

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  • Christianity
    • mosaic; Christianity In Christianity: Church and society

      The development of Christianity’s influence on the character of society since the Reformation has been twofold. In the realm of state churches and territorial churches, Christianity contributed to the preservation of the status quo of society. In England the Anglican church remained an ally…

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  • ethnic groups
    • In ethnic group

      …complexity found in most contemporary societies. Historically it is the legacy of conquests that brought diverse peoples under the rule of a dominant group; of rulers who in their own interests imported peoples for their labour or their technical and business skills; of industrialization, which intensified the age-old pattern of…

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  • metal use
    • Encyclopædia Britannica: first edition, map of Europe In history of Europe: Control over resources

      …and of its consequences for society. Metal brought several important new items to the communities, but, more importantly, it changed the nature of society itself. The production of bronze was an important step in human history, indicating a point at which the limits imposed by natural materials were broken by…

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role of

  • monarchy
    • Augustus In monarchy: Functions of monarchies

      During a given society’s history there are certain changes and processes that create conditions conducive to the rise of monarchy. Because warfare was the main means of acquiring fertile land and trade routes, some of the most prominent monarchs in the ancient world made their initial mark as…

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  • paternalism
    • In paternalism: Paternalism applied to social policy

      The use of the law to restrict or require actions from people for their own good is known as legal paternalism. Societies may vary in the breadth or manner in which they use the law to restrict the freedom of their constitutive individual…

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  • race
    • Map designating “savage,” “barbarous,” and “enlightened” regions of the world, from William C. Woodbridge's Modern Atlas (1835). In race: The many meanings of race

      …phenotypic traits encompasses neither the social reality of race nor the phenomenon of “racism.” Prompted by advances in other fields, particularly anthropology and history, scholars began to examine race as a social and cultural, rather than biological, phenomenon and have determined that race is a social invention of relatively recent…

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  • work and employment

view of

  • Bergson
    • Henri Bergson, 1928. In Henri Bergson: Later years

      …the work of the closed society, expressed in conformity to codified laws and customs, and, on the other side, the open society, best represented by the dynamic aspirations of heroes and mystical saints reaching out beyond and even breaking the strictures of the groups in which they live. There are,…

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  • Comte
  • Confucianism
    • Confucius In Confucianism: The Five Classics

      …contained in the Liji, shows society not as an adversarial system based on contractual relationships but as a community of trust with emphasis on communication. Society organized by the four functional occupations—the scholar, the farmer, the artisan, and the merchant—is, in the true sense of the word, a cooperation. As…

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  • Middle Ages thinkers
    • Encyclopædia Britannica: first edition, map of Europe In history of Europe: Growth and innovation

      …the agrarian landscape and rural society of western Europe and made it the base of urbanization, which was also well under way in the 11th century.

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    • Encyclopædia Britannica: first edition, map of Europe In history of Europe: The three orders

      …centuries thinkers argued that human society consisted of three orders: those who fight, those who pray, and those who labour. The structure of the second order, the clergy, was in place by 1200 and remained intact until the religious reformations of the 16th century. The very general category of those…

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  • Rousseau
    • Rousseau, Jean-Jacques In Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Major works of political philosophy

      …thus exonerates nature and blames society. He says that passions that generate vices hardly existed in the state of nature but began to develop as soon as people formed societies. He goes on to suggest that societies started when people built their first huts, a development that facilitated cohabitation of…

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  • Smith
  • Vico
    • Vico, Giambattista In Giambattista Vico: Vico’s vision

      He described human societies as passing through stages of growth and decay. The first is a “bestial” condition, from which emerges “the age of the gods,” in which man is ruled by fear of the supernatural. “The age of heroes” is the consequence of alliances formed by family…

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