Human Society

People and Society. People live in society because people by nature are social creatures and they like to socialize with anybody.

How does society influence people’s behaviour?

Level B2

Society influences people by shaping their belief systems, controlling their behavior and determining their values. It sends these messages to individuals through the media, school curricula, community leaders, family and churches.

Socialization is the process of learning culture and the ways of society. Our culture shapes the way we work and play, and it makes a difference in how we view ourselves and others. It affects our values – what we consider right and wrong. This is how the society we live in influences our choices. But our choices can also influence others and help shape our society.

One way that society influences people is through laws and rules that determine how they should behave. For example, parents establish rules for their families that show the children proper behavior. When the children fail to follow the rules, they face consequences. In this way, the children learn how to adjust their behavior to fit in with their families and with others.

Similarly, governments create laws that direct behavior. State and federal governments establish speed limits for roads that tell people how fast they can drive. They create penalties for actions like stealing from other people or causing harm to others. In this way, the government influences the way people behave. If they want to avoid the consequences, which range from fines to prison time, they must conform to the behavior specified within the written law.

In addition to written rules, societies have unwritten rules called social norms that also influence people. For example, waiting in line for one’s turn instead of skipping ahead of those already waiting is a behavior that society expects from people. Other common norms are covering one’s mouth during a sneeze, wearing clothes in public and giving gifts at birthdays and holidays.

Norms help establish order within a society so conforming to them provides predictability among people and situations, which reduces stress and keeps the community running smoothly.

Society also exercises great influence over people through the media. In fact, the effects of television on the behaviors and beliefs of people are well documented.

School curricula both reflect and influence society.

We know that every person is unique and different from any other in countless ways. But we often rely on generalizations to describe a person. Our society provides us with the labels we use to categorize the people we encounter. These labels are based on beliefs about race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, economic class, and more. Sometimes our beliefs about these categories are so strong that they prevent us from seeing the unique identities of others. Sometimes these beliefs also make us feel suspicion, fear, or hatred toward some members of our society. People face some dilemmas as they establish themselves both as individuals and as members of a group, and as they define themselves and are defined by others.

Age, gender, race, body shape, appearance, clothes, wealth, social background influence people’s impressions of another person. These impressions may be fair and unfair.

Remember the words People and Society

age – the length of time that a person has lived or a thing has existed; a distinct period of history

He died from a heart attack at the age of 51. We live in an age of technological growth. The movie appeals to people of all ages. Their son needs to spend more time with children his own age. a group of children ranging in age from 8 to 11. He must be getting near retiring age. It was difficult to tell his exact age.

ageism – prejudice or discrimination on the grounds of a person’s age

Discrimination against the elderly is known as ageism. Ageism in recruitment is an increasing problem. He accused his former employer of ageism when he lost his job to a younger man. Ageism affects many of those over sixty. Although ageism exists in some corporations, most employers don’t stereotype their employees because of their age. Have you ever experienced a feeling of ageism?

attitude – a settled way of thinking or feeling about something

He was questioned on his attitude to South Africa. I find your attitude most offensive. He’s very conservative in his attitude to women. His attitude made me extremely annoyed. Almost any situation – good or bad – is affected by the attitude we bring to.

behaviour – the way in which one acts or conducts oneself, especially towards others

His behaviour is sometimes rather rough. He’s always moralizing about the behaviour of young people. Her selfish behaviour completely spoiled the evening. She was ashamed of her children’s behaviour. The board considers your behaviour highly unprofessional.

bias – inclination or prejudice for or against one person or group, especially in a way considered to be unfair

Some institutions still have a strong bias against women. The government has accused the media of bias. Students were evaluated without bias or favoritism. Bias against women permeates every level of the judicial system. The newspaper has a clear bias towards the Conservative Party. There was evidence of bias against foreign applicants.

People and Society. What steps could be taken to eliminate prejudices?

Eliminating prejudices is a complex and challenging process that requires sustained effort and commitment from individuals, institutions, and society as a whole. Here are some steps that could be taken to reduce prejudices:

  • Education
    Education is one of the most effective tools for combating prejudices. Schools, universities, and other educational institutions can play a vital role in promoting awareness and understanding of different cultures, traditions, and lifestyles. By teaching students about the diverse backgrounds and experiences of others, we can promote empathy, tolerance, and respect for differences.
  • Exposure
    People tend to hold prejudices towards groups they have little experience with. By increasing exposure to different cu: ltures, ethnicities, religions, genders, and sexual orientations, we can help to break down these stereotypes and promote understanding.
  • Dialogue
    Encouraging open and respectful dialogue between people of different backgrounds can help to build bridges and break down barriers. Through active listening, sharing experiences, and discussing different perspectives, we can promote empathy and understanding.
  • Media representation
    The media plays a significant role in shaping public attitudes and perceptions towards different groups. By promoting positive representations of diverse groups in media, we can help to counter negative stereotypes and reduce prejudices.
  • Legislation
    Laws and policies can be used to promote equality and protect against discrimination based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and other factors. By enforcing these laws and policies, we can help to reduce systemic discrimination and promote equal treatment.

Ultimately, eliminating prejudices requires a long-term and multifaceted approach that involves education, exposure, dialogue, media representation, legislation, and individual and collective action.

body shape – the shape of someone’s body

If you’re not happy with your body shape, you should do more exercise. You can’t change your natural body shape. We encourage women to accept their body shape.

bring about  – cause something to happen

She brought about a revolution in psychoanalysis. We are working to bring about closer political integration in the EU. How far does war bring about social change? How can we bring about a change in attitudes? This will bring about both inner and social conflicts. Only a society in which people feel secure in their peer groups can bring about such mass action.

broad-minded – tolerant or liberal in one’s views and reactions, willing to accept many different types of behaviour, beliefs or choices in other people; willing to consider new or different ideas

At seventy she was surprisingly broad-minded. He’s got a broad-minded approach to religion. My grandparents were surprisingly broad-minded. He is broad-minded about the different forms families can take. We are supposed to be a broad-minded society. The campaign attracts progressive, broad-minded people. Travel helps you become more broad-minded.

narrow-minded – not willing to listen to or tolerate other people’s views; prejudiced

He was criticised for being boring and narrow-minded. They are as traditional, narrow-minded and uncreative in their approach to educational debate.  It would be narrow-minded not to welcome these developments. He is a narrow-minded person who would crow over other’s failure.

citizen – a person who is a memeber of a particular country and who has rights because of being born there or because of being given rights

The interests of British citizens living abroad are protected by the British Embassy. As a citizen, you should obey these rules. Every citizen may claim the protection of the law. Every citizen must pay taxes. She’s an American citizen but lives in Canada. She’s Italian by birth but is now an Australian citizen.

civil rights – the rights of citizens to political and social freedom and equality; guarantees of equal social opportunities and equal protection under the law, regardless of race, religion, or other personal characteristics

Civil rights include freedom, equality in law and in employment, and the right to vote. Civil rights officials say there may be hundreds of other cases of racial violence. She was accused of not taking a stand on feminism or civil rights. The law would strike at the most basic of civil rights. Martin Ruther King Jr. was awarded the peace Nobel Prize of 1964 for advocating nonviolence policy in the movement for civil rights.

condescending – having or showing an attitude of patronizing superiority, treating someone as if you are more important or more intelligent than them

He explains things without condescending to his audience. Her tone of voice was always so condescending. He has a condescending attitude towards women. Fourteen percent claim the men have a condescending attitude. I’m fed up with your money and your whole condescending attitude.

condescension – an attitude of patronizing superiority

He looked at me with condescension and pity in his eyes. She answered him with such haughty condescension that his face went white. He couldn’t find any trace of disdain or condescension in her expression. His voice dripped with constant condescension and witty sarcasm. He hated the white man’s superiority and condescension.

cooperate – work jointly towards the same end

We have to cooperate with each other. I earnestly advised him to cooperate. Let’s all cooperate to get the work done quickly. Governments must cooperate if they are to fight international terrorism. During our meeting, he indicated his willingness to cooperate.

empathy – the ability to share someone else’s feelings or experiences by imagining what it would be like to be in that person’s situation

I felt real empathy for my mother and what she had been through. She had great empathy with people. Empathy creates a closeness between you and your child. This helps to develop empathy – the ability to see things from the other’s point of view in addition to one’s own.  Psychologists found evidence that self-recognition correlates with empathy.

equality – the state of being equal, especially in status, rights, or opportunities

All people have the right to equality of opportunity. Women are still struggling for true equality with men. Don’t you believe in equality between men and women? The government must promote racial equality. Equality of opportunity has been the government’s guiding principle in its education reforms. The women are demanding full equality with the men.

fit in – be socially compatible with other members of a group

He’s very friendly and extroverted so he should fit in quite easily. I’ve no intention of changing my plans just to fit in with his.  He’s never done this type of work before; I’m not sure how he’ll fit in. He feels he should become tough to fit in with his friends.

gender – either of the two sexes (male and female), especially when considered with reference to social and cultural differences rather than biological ones

Gender issues have become something of a hot button. Jobs were strictly segregated by gender. Gender roles are often conditioned by cultural factors. Many factors are important, for example class, gender, age and ethnicity. Gender differences are becoming more blurred as both sexes become more liberated. There is an even gender balance amongst staff. She argued that the law should always be gender  neutral.

humanitarian – involved in or connected with improving people’s lives and reducing suffering

Humanitarian aid is being sent to the refugees. He termed the war a humanitarian nightmare. The well-known humanitarian was concerned with the welfare of his employees. We made this offer on humanitarian grounds. Both countries say their intervention is purely humanitarian. We have provided valuable economic and humanitarian aid to ease the transition to a market economy.

People and Society: Social Issues

Social issues are problems that affect many people in a society.

  1. Poverty and homelessness are worldwide problems. One-quarter of the world’s population lives in conditions that harm their health and safety. Many do not have shelter, a basic human need for survival.
  2. Climate change affects the entire world population. A warmer, changing climate is a threat to the entire world. Around the world, people are already noticing warmer winters, more severe storms and rainfall events, and more frequent wildfires.
  3. Overpopulation. As the population becomes more than the country can sustain, people will need to move elsewhere to avoid starvation and homelessness.
  4. Imigration stresses affect many people.
  5. Civil rights and racial discrimination is one of the most significant social issues around the world.
  6. Gender inequality. Women still lag behind men in wages and top leadership positions held.
  7. Health care availability. Lots of people worldwide do not obtain needed medical care because of the cost.
  8. The childhood obesity epidemic.Children in families where the parents have more education and higher incomes are far less likely to be obese than those in families with less education and lower incomes.
  9. Bullying. Many school students have been victims of bullying and cyberbullying, or bullying conducted online.

People should raise awareness of social issues. Discussing and writing about social issues can also help expand people’s understanding of these important challenges.

nationalism – loyalty and devotion to a nation; a sense of national consciousness exalting one nation above all others

Nationalism is linked to deep-rooted human instincts. It was easy to touch the sensitive nerve of nationalism. His book describes the growth of nationalism in Germany before the Second World War. Nationalism can be a serious disease. Intense nationalism was one of the causes of the war.

patronizing – showing or characterized by a superior attitude towards others, marked by condescension

The program focuses on kids’ interests without patronizing them.  He also lacked experience leading a large group, and he was sometimes patronizing. I began patronizing secondhand bookstore. To its critics, “affirmative action” is seen as patronizing to women and minorities.

petition – a formal written request made to an authority or organized body (such as a court)

We’re collecting signatures for a petition. We recently presented the government with a petition signed by 4,500 people. I signed a petition against the proposed closure of the local hospital today. They wanted me to sign a petition against experiments on animals. We’ve been out collecting signatures for our petition.

prejudice – preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience

They have prejudice against people from different backgrounds. The greatest obstacle to progress is prejudice. There is widespread  prejudice against workers over 45. Laws against racial prejudice must be strictly enforced. Women still face prejudice in the workplace.  Asian pupils complained of racial prejudice at the school. He was a victim of racial prejudice. I try to rise above prejudice.

protest – a statement or action expressing disapproval of or objection to something

The director resigned in protest at the decision. The announcement provoked a storm of protest. People made a protest about the rise in prices. Strikes are the most common form of industrial protest. Local residents have organized a protest against the planned dump site.  Half a million people held a mass protest against racism last night.

race – one of the main groups to which people are often considered to belong, based on physical characteristics that they are perceived to share such as skin colour, eye shape, etc.; a group of people who share the same language, history, characteristics, etc.

It will be an unlawful employment practice for an employer to refuse to hire any individual because of an individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. People of many different races were living side by side. Discrimination on grounds of race will not be tolerated. The British are an island race.

racism – policies, behaviours, rules, etc. that result in a continued unfair advantage to some people and unfair or hramful treatment of others based on race

Racism exists at all levels of society. We oppose racism in all its forms. Racism causes political instability and violence. Many immigrants have experienced racism. The colored students held a one-week moratorium on classes to oppose racism. Half a million people held a mass protest against racism last night. The last decade has witnessed a serious rise in the levels of racism and hostility to Black and ethnic groups.

rebellious – if someone is rebellious, they are difficult to control and do not behave in the way that is expected; if a group of people are rebellious, they oppose the ideas of the people in authority and plan to change the system, often using force

He is rebellious, aggressive and at times self-destructive. Most teenagers go through a rebellious period. Rebellious back-benchers are threatening to vote against the government. Her rebellious attitude is just a reaction against her strict upbringing. Such extremist groups may well attract rebellious teenagers.

resourceful – skilled at solving problems and making decisions on your own

He was amazingly inventive and resourceful, and played a major role in my career. She’s a very resourceful manager. These women were strong, resourceful and courageous. What is immediately striking is how resourceful the children are. Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. She is now divorced and, in her usual resourceful way, has started her own business.

respect – admiration felt or shown for someone or something that you believe has good ideas or qualities

He inspired respect and devotion from his pupils. She won the grudging respect of her boss. You should show more respect to your parents. Respect yourself, or no one else will respect you. They treated me with respect. Mutual respect is necessary for any partnership to work. Throughout life, we rely on small groups of people for love, admiration, respect, moral support, and help.

sexism – is the unfair treatment of people, especially women, because of their gender

Sexism are actions based on the belief that the members of one sex are less intelligent, able, skilful, etc. than the members of the other sex, especially that women are less able than men. Sexism still works against women in many professions. There is still a lot of subtle sexism on television and in magazines. Issues of racism, sexism, and homophobia were discussed.

stand up for – to defend or support a particular idea or a person who is being criticized or attacked

It’s high time we all stood up for our rights around here. Don’t be bullied, learn to stand up for yourself and what you believe in. You have to learn to stand up for yourself. Always stand up for your principles. She’d learnt to be herself and to stand up for her convictions. Girls who have always been at a mixed school know how to stand up for themselves.

stereotype – a fixed idea that many people have of a particular type of person or thing

He doesn’t conform to fit the national stereotype of a Frenchman. Ideally it should not unfairly discriminate or stereotype. Is it a harmful geographic stereotype to suggest that southerners are a little bit poky? Many men feel their body shape doesn’t live up to the stereotype of the ideal man. Teachers often stereotype kids who speak with strong regional accents. There is a tendency to stereotype childless women as being hard and career-orientated. What gives you the right to stereotype blondes that way?

take on (responsibility) – when you take on responsibility for something, it generally means that you assume new responsibility for something you aren’t or weren’t expected to be responsible for.

Be active! Take on responsibility! Work for the things you believe in. Whoever takes on the trout farm will have their work cut out. I can’t take on any more work at the moment. He took on new responsibilities. No other organisation was able or willing to take on the job. Don’t take on more responsibilities than you can handle. 

upbringing – the treatment and instruction received by a child from its parents throughout its childhood

Martin’s upbringing shaped his whole life. He finally rebelled against his strict upbringing. He reacted strongly against his religious upbringing. He was a Catholic by upbringing. Her country upbringing explains her love of nature. Is it right to say all the crimes he committed were simply the result of his upbringing? Her political consciousness sprang from her upbringing when her father’s illness left the family short of money.

wealth – an abundance of valuable possessions or money

Wealth is the test of a man’s character. The first wealth is health. He that marries for wealth, sells his liberty. Lost wealth can be replaced by industry, lost knowledge by study, lost health by temperance or medicine, but lost time is gone for ever. Wealth may be an excellent thing, for it means power, leisure, and liberty. Learning is wealth to the poor, an honour to the rich, an aid to the young, and a support and comfort to the aged.


Discrimination strikes at the very heart of being human. Discrimination is harmful and perpetuates inequality. We all have the right to be treated equally, regardless of our race, ethnicity, nationality, class, caste, religion, belief, sex, gender, language, sexual orientation, gender identity, sex characteristics, age, health or other status. Discrimination occurs when a person is unable to enjoy his or her human rights or other legal rights on an equal basis with others.

Some Key Forms of Discrimination

  • racial and ethnic discrimination
  • discrimination against non-nationals sometimes known as xenophobia
  • discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people
  • gender discrimination
  • discrimination based on caste
  • discrimination based on disability

What should governments do to solve the problem?

  • Get rid of discriminatory laws.
  • Protect everyone – whoever they are – from discrimination and violence.
  • Introduce laws and policies that promote inclusion and diversity in all aspects of society.
  • Take action to tackle the root causes of discrimination, including by challenging stereotypes and attitudes that underpin discrimination.