Lifestyles & Social Issues

It's easy enough to agree that human beings all around the world have certain basic requirements that must be fulfilled in order to ensure their individual and collective well-being. History has shown us, however, that it's not so easy to form societies or communities that fulfill these requirements for all members. The fight over human and civil rights has persisted for hundreds of years and remains alive today, both within the borders of nations and on an international scale. It has led to large-scale social movements and reforms concerning issues such as suffrage, slavery, women's rights, racial discrimination, environmentalism, gay rights, and more.

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Featured Lifestyles & Social Issues Articles
  • Forensic anthropologist examining a human skull found in a mass grave in Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2005.
    Anthropology
    Anthropology, “the science of humanity,” which studies human beings in aspects ranging from the biology and evolutionary history of Homo sapiens to the features of society and culture that decisively distinguish humans from other animal species. Because of the diverse subject matter it encompasses,…
  • Addams, Jane
    Social service
    Social service, any of numerous publicly or privately provided services intended to aid disadvantaged, distressed, or vulnerable persons or groups. The term social service also denotes the profession engaged in rendering such services. The social services have flourished in the 20th century as…
  • An adult education class.
    Teaching
    Teaching, the profession of those who give instruction, especially in an elementary or a secondary school or in a university. Measured in terms of its members, teaching is the world’s largest profession. In the late 20th century it was estimated that there were 30 million teachers throughout the…
  • Henri de Saint-Simon, lithograph by L. Deymaru, 19th century
    Socialism
    Socialism, social and economic doctrine that calls for public rather than private ownership or control of property and natural resources. According to the socialist view, individuals do not live or work in isolation but live in cooperation with one another. Furthermore, everything that people…
  • Margaret Mead
    Education
    Education, discipline that is concerned with methods of teaching and learning in schools or school-like environments as opposed to various nonformal and informal means of socialization (e.g., rural development projects and education through parent-child relationships). Education can be thought of…
  • An 18th-century family register listing births, marriages, and deaths within a kin group; in the National Archives, Washington, D.C.
    Kinship
    Kinship, system of social organization based on real or putative family ties. The modern study of kinship can be traced back to mid-19th-century interests in comparative legal institutions and philology. In the late 19th century, however, the cross-cultural comparison of kinship institutions became…
  • Interest group
    Interest group, any association of individuals or organizations, usually formally organized, that, on the basis of one or more shared concerns, attempts to influence public policy in its favour. All interest groups share a desire to affect government policy to benefit themselves or their causes.…
  • Mary Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Woman: With Strictures on Political and Moral Subjects
    Feminism
    Feminism, the belief in social, economic, and political equality of the sexes. Although largely originating in the West, feminism is manifested worldwide and is represented by various institutions committed to activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests. Throughout most of Western history,…
  • John Locke
    Human rights
    Human rights, rights that belong to an individual or group of individuals simply for being human, or as a consequence of inherent human vulnerability, or because they are requisite to the possibility of a just society. Whatever their theoretical justification, human rights refer to a wide continuum…
  • Dickens, Charles
    Charles Dickens
    Charles Dickens, English novelist, generally considered the greatest of the Victorian era. His many volumes include such works as A Christmas Carol, David Copperfield, Bleak House, A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations, and Our Mutual Friend. Dickens enjoyed a wider popularity during his…
  • Karl Marx.
    Karl Marx
    Karl Marx, revolutionary, sociologist, historian, and economist. He published (with Friedrich Engels) Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei (1848), commonly known as The Communist Manifesto, the most celebrated pamphlet in the history of the socialist movement. He also was the author of the…
  • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, engraving by James Posselwhite, 19th century.
    Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
    Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German poet, playwright, novelist, scientist, statesman, theatre director, critic, and amateur artist, considered the greatest German literary figure of the modern era. Goethe is the only German literary figure whose range and international standing equal those of…
  • anarchy symbol
    Anarchism
    Anarchism, cluster of doctrines and attitudes centred on the belief that government is both harmful and unnecessary. Anarchist thought developed in the West and spread throughout the world, principally in the early 20th century. Derived from the Greek root anarchos meaning “without authority,”…
  • John Locke
    John Locke
    John Locke, English philosopher whose works lie at the foundation of modern philosophical empiricism and political liberalism. He was an inspirer of both the European Enlightenment and the Constitution of the United States. His philosophical thinking was close to that of the founders of modern…
  • Mark Twain, c. 1907.
    Mark Twain
    Mark Twain, American humorist, journalist, lecturer, and novelist who acquired international fame for his travel narratives, especially The Innocents Abroad (1869), Roughing It (1872), and Life on the Mississippi (1883), and for his adventure stories of boyhood, especially The Adventures of Tom…
  • slavery
    Slavery
    Slavery, condition in which one human being was owned by another. A slave was considered by law as property, or chattel, and was deprived of most of the rights ordinarily held by free persons. There is no consensus on what a slave was or on how the institution of slavery should be defined.…
  • Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.
    Mahatma Gandhi
    Mahatma Gandhi, Indian lawyer, politician, social activist, and writer who became the leader of the nationalist movement against the British rule of India. As such, he came to be considered the father of his country. Gandhi is internationally esteemed for his doctrine of nonviolent protest…
  • Georges-Eugène Haussmann's modernization plan transformed many areas of Paris through the addition of wider boulevards, better lighting and water sanitation, new parks, and improved rail transportation.
    Urban planning
    Urban planning, design and regulation of the uses of space that focus on the physical form, economic functions, and social impacts of the urban environment and on the location of different activities within it. Because urban planning draws upon engineering, architectural, and social and political…
  • Jean-Jacques Rousseau
    Jean-Jacques Rousseau
    Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Swiss-born philosopher, writer, and political theorist whose treatises and novels inspired the leaders of the French Revolution and the Romantic generation. Rousseau was the least academic of modern philosophers and in many ways was the most influential. His thought marked…
  • Feast
    Feast, day or period of time set aside to commemorate, ritually celebrate or reenact, or anticipate events or seasons—agricultural, religious, or sociocultural—that give meaning and cohesiveness to an individual and to the religious, political, or socioeconomic community. Because such days or…
  • Modernization
    Modernization, in sociology, the transformation from a traditional, rural, agrarian society to a secular, urban, industrial society. Modern society is industrial society. To modernize a society is, first of all, to industrialize it. Historically, the rise of modern society has been inextricably…
  • Karl Marx.
    Communism
    Communism, political and economic doctrine that aims to replace private property and a profit-based economy with public ownership and communal control of at least the major means of production (e.g., mines, mills, and factories) and the natural resources of a society. Communism is thus a form of…
  • Pachacamac, Peru
    Archaeology
    Archaeology, the scientific study of the material remains of past human life and activities. These include human artifacts from the very earliest stone tools to the man-made objects that are buried or thrown away in the present day: everything made by human beings—from simple tools to complex…
  • Charles Booth
    Sociology
    Sociology, a social science that studies human societies, their interactions, and the processes that preserve and change them. It does this by examining the dynamics of constituent parts of societies such as institutions, communities, populations, and gender, racial, or age groups. Sociology also…
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