Religion Past and Present

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(6,607 words)

[German Version]

I. Terminology

The word society (societas, société) has changed from a term denoting particular forms and modes of human coexistence to a term (in both sg. and pl.) denoting the totality of human coexistence; it has thus become the basic term of the theoretical sciences that deal with human coexistence. The German equivalent, Gesellschaft (from OHG sal, “room,” and selida, “dwelling place”), suggests ties that arise from sharing the s…

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Herms, Eilert, Kippenberg, Hans G., Thiel, Winfried, Wehr, Lothar, Münch, Richard, Hezser, Catherine, Meyer, Michael A. and Wielandt, Rotraud, “Society”, in: Religion Past and Present. Consulted online on 20 July 2024 <>
First published online: 2011
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004146662, 2006-2013

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