What is the difference between a society and a community?

The difference between a society and a community comes down to two main characteristics: size and interaction.  A community and a society can be any size that you want.  There isn’t a “minimum” number of people needed for either (as long as you don’t take extremes like 2-3 people).  What is generally understood as a key size difference is that a community is smaller than a society.  

The size factor is of secondary importance, if you ask me.  The level of interaction is more important.  A society could be huge, and span hundreds or thousands of miles.  The population of the United States could be considered a society — the American society.   Within that society though are many, many smaller communities.  The key factor with a community is that the people within it must have some level of interaction with each other.  

Let’s use a city as an example.  I live in San Diego.  San Diegans are all part of the San Diego city and SoCal culture.  If you live here, you know what I mean.  That is my society.  Within that society, I teach at a small school.  That would be a community, because there is a high level of interaction between me, my co-workers, and my students.  I am not part of the accounting firm across the city.  That’s a different community of people.  I am a member of my neighborhood community, but I am not a member of my brother’s neighborhood community.  But I do belong to the American society that my brother is also a part of.  

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