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A society is a group of individuals involved in persistent social interaction, or a large social group sharing the same geographical 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.

Insofar as it is collaborative, a society can enable its members to benefit in ways that would not otherwise be possible 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.

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.

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A Song Dynasty painting of an outdoor banquet
Chinese society during the Song Dynasty was marked by political and legal reforms, a philosophical revival of Confucianism, and the development of cities beyond administrative purposes into centers of trade, industry, and maritime commerce. The inhabitants of rural areas were mostly farmers, although some were also hunters, fishers, or government employees working in mines or the salt marshes. Contrarily, shopkeepers, artisans, city guards, entertainers, laborers, and wealthy merchants lived in the county and provincial centers along with the Chinese gentry—a small, elite community of educated scholars and scholar-officials. The military also provided a means for advancement in Song society for those who became officers, even though soldiers were not highly-respected members of society. Although certain domestic and familial duties were expected of women in Song society, they nonetheless enjoyed a wide range of social and legal rights in an otherwise patriarchal society. Women's improved rights to property came gradually with the increasing value of dowries offered by brides' families. Daoism and Buddhism were the dominant religions of China in the Song era, the latter deeply impacting many beliefs and principles of Neo-Confucianism throughout the dynasty. The Song justice system was maintained by policing sheriffs, investigators, official coroners, and exam-drafted officials who acted as magistrates.

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Punch (magazine)Credit: Artist: John Tenniel; Restoration: Adam Cuerden

"Our New 'First Lord' at Sea", an 1877 editorial cartoon from Punch mocking the appointment of William Henry Smith (right) as First Lord of the Admiralty, the governor of the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom. Smith had been a household name thanks to the W H Smith chain of booksellers and newsagents, and he had been a Member of Parliament for the previous ten years, but he had no naval or even military experience whatsoever. The following year, Gilbert and Sullivan's H.M.S. Pinafore would satirise him on similar grounds, and he became known as "Pinafore Smith" throughout the course of his three years in the post.

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Ursula Franklin in 2006
Ursula Franklin (born 1921) is a Canadian metallurgist, research physicist, author and educator who has taught at the University of Toronto for more than 40 years. She is the author of The Real World of Technology, which is based on her 1989 Massey Lectures, and The Ursula Franklin Reader: Pacifism as a Map, a collection of her papers, interviews, and talks. Franklin is a practising Quaker and has been active in working on behalf of pacifist and feminist causes. Franklin has received numerous honours and awards, including the Governor General's Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case for promoting the equality of girls and women in Canada and the Pearson Medal of Peace for her work in advancing human rights. Franklin is best known for her writings on the political and social effects of technology. For her, technology is a comprehensive system that includes methods, procedures, organization, "and most of all, a mindset". She distinguishes between holistic technologies used by craft workers or artisans and prescriptive ones associated with a division of labour in large-scale production. Franklin argues that the dominance of prescriptive technologies in modern society discourages critical thinking and promotes "a culture of compliance".

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The sentence uttered by Neil Armstrong upon being the first human to walk on the moon during the Apollo 11 moon landing on July 21, 1969

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