A society, to me, is made up of a group of people who work together towards common goals, has its own unique practices, rituals, beliefs and even language, and also has rules and standards that help to maintain and keep itself organized. A society can be considered effective or functional when all these traits are present. Of course, other traits can define a society, however they are not nearly as essential to the society's existence. This world is made up of countless societies, each one being unlike another, but they all work because they portray the characteristics of a true society.
All readers of William Golding's novel Lord of the Flies have had their own opinion as to whether the boys on the island were actually a society or not. At one point, they could be considered a functioning society. They had meetings to come up with rules for their tribe, and also had an informal class system where the littluns had the least power and the hunters and Ralph, the chief, held the most power.
As they spent more time on the island, they also began developing their own vernacular, such as "littluns" for young children and "biguns" to represent the older kids. However, when rules and behavior became less essential, the boys' society crumbled. The boys paid no heed to the importance of the signal fire and forgot the order and security that the conch represented. They became nothing more than bloodthirsty savages and had all lost sight of the common goal that banded them together in the first place--rescue.
The United States is an example of a very distinctive society that is able to be successful. Despite our cultural, religious, social, and political differences, we are all Americans working towards the "American Dream," whatever that dream may...