Maarten Maartensz:    Philosophical Dictionary | Filosofisch Woordenboek                      

 S - Society


Society: A society is a cooperation of persons and groups of persons to occupy some territory and to practice agreed upon common ends in organized ways, that maintains itself against outsiders, and differentiates between outsiders and insiders.

Here I am talking about human societies, and try to avoid what's not essential, logically speaking. In the same vein:

All sub-societies of a society are basically face-groups, and are organized as basic hierarchical theatre-companies, with the members as players of parts, which they have to learn, and are socially rewarded for playing properly, and socially punished for playing improperly.

Face-groups are groups the members of which know each other personally and interact personally.

A basic hierarchy consists of the leadership of the group, the executives of the leadership (see: Bureaucracy), and the members of the group.

A social part or role is like a role in a theatre-play, in that it requires the performance of certain definite kinds of acts in certain conditions, often called work, in cooperation with the other players of the group, and possibly outsiders.

A social reward is a socially organized group of commodities or title to such that is given to players for properly playing their parts. When compared to theatre-companies, it is the share in the takes of the group that the player receives.

A social punishment is a socially organized enforcement of the doing of something not valued that is given to players for not properly fulfilling some social duty.

A social duty is a socially organized and prescribed role, with its criterions for correct performance, that players that are given the role are supposed to perform or enact.

A social ideology is a set of ideas about what reality is (metaphysics) and ideals about what reality and human beings should be like (ethics). Most societies and most groups are based on some ideology or religion, that provide its members with shared ends, ideas, values and preconceptions, and thus allow or enable them to cooperate.

A social world is a set of socially shared ideas, values, ends, agreements and practices, that usually includes a code of rights and duties, that is adopted by some group as a social ideology, and as a combined system of commonsensical ideas, and ideals members in a group share.

These are all definitions that are meant to clarify a number of elementary points and concepts about society and the playing of roles that are often left obscure. They can be considerably extended and formalized.

One important point to notice is that "society" is an abstract, theoretical term and that such society as men and women know is that of face-groups and of family and friends: Society itself is a collection of many such face-groups, just as any organisation or institution is a set of such face-groups.

See also: Agreements, Character, Collusion, Conformism, Cooperation, Groups, Hypocrisy, Ideology, Politics, Power, Religion


Aristotle, Aron, Burnham, Goffman, Hamilton et al., Machiavelli, Mill, Mills, Mosca, Ortega, Orwell, Swift, Weber, Zinoviev

 Original: Aug 20, 2004                                                Last edited:05 March 2012 .   Top