Society is the term to describe human beings together (collective, the sum of their social networks and social interactions). The term comes from the Latin idea of societas, or the connection between friends or allies (friend or ally being socius). ... Sociology is the name for the study of society.

Social Groups consist of two or more people who interact and identify with one another.

Territory: Most countries have formal boundaries and territory that the world recognizes as theirs. However, a society’s boundaries don’t have to be geopolitical borders, such as the one between the United States and Canada. Instead, members of a society, as well as nonmembers, must recognize particular land as belonging to that society.

Interaction: Members of a society must come in contact with one another. If a group of people within a country has no regular contact with another group, those groups cannot be considered part of the same society. Geographic distance and language barriers can separate societies within a country.

Culture: People of the same society share aspects of their culture, such as language or beliefs. Culture refers to the language, values, beliefs, behavior, and material objects that constitute a people’s way of life. It is a defining element of society.


The United States is a society composed of many groups of people, some of whom originally belonged to other societies. Sociologists consider the United States a Pluralistic Society, meaning it is built of many groups. As societies modernize, they attract people from countries where there may be economic hardship, political unrest, or religious persecution. Since the industrialized countries of the West were the first to modernize, these countries tend to be more pluralistic than countries in other parts of the world.

Many people came to the United States between the mid-nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries. Fleeing poverty and religious persecution, these immigrants arrived in waves from Europe and Asia and helped create the pluralism that makes the United States unique.

Pluralism In The Neighborhood

Both cities and regions reflect pluralism in the United States. Most major American cities have areas in which people from particular backgrounds are concentrated, such as Little Italy in New York, Chinatown in San Francisco, and Little Havana in Miami. Regionally, people of Mexican descent tend to live in those states that border Mexico. Individuals of Cuban descent are concentrated in Florida. Spanish-speaking people from other Caribbean islands, such as Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, are more likely to live in the Northeast.

Some practices that are common in other societies will inevitably offend or contradict the values and beliefs of the new society. Groups seeking to become part of a pluralistic society often have to give up many of their original traditions in order to fit in—a process known as Assimilation.

In pluralistic societies, groups do not have to give up all of their former beliefs and practices. Many groups within a pluralistic society retain their ethnic traditions.

Source: SparkNotes/Sociology/Society and Culture/

Poverty affects more Americans than we think

While 15.1 percent of Americans lived below the official poverty line in 2010, this number is only a snapshot. At the same time more than 100 million Americans were struggling to get by on low incomes, earning below twice the poverty line ($44,700 a year for a family of four), and experiencing many of the same hardships as those officially defined as poor).

Rising poverty among children is particularly harmful to society

In 2010 more than one in five children—22 percent—lived below the official poverty line. Children who live in families below the poverty line, even for short periods, are at greater risk of lower cognitive development, educational attainment, increased reliance on public benefits, and increased rates of incarceration. 

Poverty increases health risks

Poor children are much more likely to have lower birth weight, and infants living in poor households face higher rates of food insecurity, which impairs healthy development. As adults, lower-income individuals experience higher rates of illness, disease, and disabilities than those who have higher incomes.

Poverty weakens families

Low-income and poor families face significant economic pressure as they struggle to pay bills and make ends meet. This economic pressure, coupled with other stressful events that are more prevalent in the lives of poor families, create high levels of psychological distress, including depression among poor parents. As couples struggle to make ends meet, their interactions become more hostile, and they tend to withdraw from each other—leading to fractures in relationships and poor parenting. 

Poverty traps individuals and decreases mobility

Children who grow up in poor families are more likely to be poor as adults compared to children from upper-income families, undermining the American Dream. These poor adults are also more likely to have poor children of their own. 

Poverty costs our economy billions of dollars annually

High rates of poverty hurt everyone in the United States because it strips limited resources from the government that could be invested in other areas to promote economic growth. Child poverty alone is estimated to cost the U.S. economy more than $500 billion annually in lost productivity, increased health care costs, and higher criminal-justice expenditures.

Poverty weakens the middle class, the engine of America’s economic growth

High rates of poverty hurt everyone in the United States because it strips limited resources from the government that could be invested in other areas to promote economic growth. Child poverty alone is estimated to cost the U.S. economy more than $500 billion annually in lost productivity, increased health care costs, and higher criminal-justice expenditures.

Poverty costs our economy billions of dollars annually

America’s economic strength is based on a strong middle class with purchasing power to fuel our economy and workforce contributions to increase our economic growth and productivity. The increasing number of Americans who slip from the middle class into poverty places downward pressure on our nation’s revenues due to the impact of lower earnings.

Poverty weakens communities and access to the American Dream

The long-term impact of concentrated poverty contributes greatly to the increasing income and wealth gap in the United States. Children living in neighborhoods that experienced a 10 percentage-point decline in poverty saw a $7,000 increase in family income as adults compared to those children living in neighborhoods without a reduction in the poverty rate. This cycle of poverty creates generations of individuals who are trapped in economically isolated communities with low incomes. This is at odds with our American values of opportunity for all.

Poverty lowers U.S. long-term competitiveness

Poverty also dramatically harms long-term human-capital development, a critical component in our nation’s global economic competitiveness. A substantial body of research shows that children who grow up in poverty underperform in school, have limited access to higher education, and are less likely to be prepared for the high-skilled jobs of the future. With 22 percent of the nation’s children living in poverty, we are imperiling future generations of workers who will be needed to lead U.S. productivity and competitiveness.

Poverty weakens our democracy

Disparities of income, wealth, and access to opportunity are growing more sharply in the United States. The result is a system with unequal voices in which millions of low-income Americans do not fully exercise their rights as citizens. Those who enjoy higher incomes are more likely to make their values known to government officials. Consequently, when Americans with different income levels differ on policy preferences, the policy outcomes strongly reflect the values of the wealthy at the expense of the middle class and the poor. This reality conflicts with the cherished American ideals of equal representation and political equality.

How the 1 Percent Is Pulling America’s Cities and Regions Apart


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