Society may be defined as a number of persons pursuing common ends or purposes and united by a consciousness of common pursuit. It involves no reference to residence in any well defined area as community does. Participation in a common spiritual fund is not essential to it as it is to constitute community.
A society is not so enduring and permanent as a community is. It may dissolve as soon as the purpose for the realisation of which it is established is achieved. In any community there may be a number of societies and institutions whose organization into a complex whole may itself be called a society, In this usage the term in applicable to a group
These can best be stated in the words of Barker as follows:
Both are sustained by the same moral purpose: they overlap they blend, roughly speaking we may say that the area is one of voluntary co-operation. Its energy that of goodwill, its method that of elasticity while the area of the other is rather that of mechanical action, its energy forces its method rigidity.
The main points of difference between the state and voluntary associations are the following:
1. The state is permanent and enduring association while other associations are temporary. The later are dissolved as soon as their purpose is realised. The purpose of the state is the abiding purpose of promoting general welfare and so cannot be completely realised at any time.
2. The state is compulsory association. We do not choose its membership but are born into it. Most of the other associations are voluntary; one can become a member of any of them when one likes and can also withdraw from it when one so chooses.
3. The state is exclusive. A person cannot belong to two states at one and the same time, as he can belong to a number of associations simultaneously.
4. The state is territorial association, it functions within the limits of well defined are. Voluntary associations involve no reference to any territorial limits.
5. The most important point of distinction is that the state has authority. It can punish its members put them into jail, punish them, confiscate their property and demand of them sacrifices from other association by virtue of its ends but fails to state its fundamental aspect of political organization. Among modern attempts we may mention the definition proposed by Holland as typical.
He defines it as a numerous assemblance of human beings generally occupying a certain territory among whom the will of the majority or of an ascertainable class of persons is by the strength of such a majority or class made of prevail against any of their number who oppose it.
The definition lays stress on the necessity of political oganization and also recognizes the necessity of land and population as essentials of the state. The definition given by Holland and others of the similar nature, suffer from one grave defect. They do not say anything about the essential nature of the state, i.e., that exists for promotion of good life.