Society plus 社会

I’ve visited this thread世、世界-and-世の中/3082 but I’m curious about one more word meaning society: 社会 I’m curious to know how this one is used to mean society. Thanks!

Well 社会人 means “(productive) member of society” (not for example a student) and 社会的 means “social” so… there’s that.


I feel like it refers more specifically to the grouping of people living together as a unit and sometimes towards a goal, and less the world in general. I think of the Seinfeld quote “We are living! In a society!”


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I think 社会 is the closest in meaning to how we define “society” in English, so with an emphasis on the social world and its connections

You’ll also find it in scientific references to society (i.e. social studies/sociology), and in referring to organizations and groups of people with a common feature (for example something like 「学者の社会」, “Society of Scholars”), that sort of thing

In comparison to something like 世の中, 社会 feels more focused on society itself whereas 世の中 seems a lot broader


I’m pretty sure that came from the original Chinese and the Japanese just added on to it. If you look up 社 in a Chinese dictionary, the meaning is actually “society” whereas in Japanese it’s mainly company.

Actually I think 社会 was adopted in Chinese from Japanese. It’s a Japanese calque from English.

[citation needed]

@bekku_no_ojiisan if its me you’re asking for a citation from, 社会 is an example of a Sino-Japanese word coined in the Meiji era. It’s a loan translation. It was coined to express the western abstract concept of society.
Frellesvig, Bjarke. A History of the Japanese Language, 2010, p409 :stuck_out_tongue:

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Thank you all. I also noticed that:

社会 = society
会社 = company

It confused me at first and now I’m hoping I remember which is which. LOL


I still have to stop for a moment sometimes to check if I should read しゃかい or かいしゃ.

Thankfully, context often makes it obvious without checking :slightly_smiling_face:

Hmm, in this case, for me, the pronunciation is easier than the meaning.

In the industrial age many companies (会社) built a whole society (社会) around them.

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