The society in which we live determines everything from the food we eat to the choices we make. The word society comes from the latin root socius, meaning “companion” or “being with others.” A society consists of people who share a territory, who interact with each other, and who share a culture. Some societies are, in fact, groups of people united by friendship or common interests. Our respective societies teach us how to behave, what to believe, and how we’ll be punished if we don’t follow the laws or customs in place.
Sociologists study the way people learn about their own society’s cultures and how they discover their place within those cultures. They also examine the ways in which people from differing cultures interact and sometimes clash—and how mutual understanding and respect might be reached.