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-   -   such a thing is detrimental to the society as a whole (http://www.eslhq.com/forums/esl-forums/english-questions/such-thing-detrimental-society-whole-55143/)

CKC Sep 16th, 2012 08:49 pm

such a thing is detrimental to the society as a whole
 
......

susan53 Sep 17th, 2012 01:58 am

Re: such a thing is detrimental to the society as a whole
 
Here's the whole extract :

Finally there are the parent organizations and the laymen's organizations such as the National Association of Parents and Teachers, and the Citizens Committee on Public Schools. These have an upper-middle-class leadership and a middle-class membership, with rare exceptions, where working-class parents are active in local P.-T.A. matters. Like the other policy-making groups, these are middle class in their educational attitudes, and they attempt to act in the general public interest, as they see it. In general it appears that educational decisions and educational policies are made by people who intend to act in the interests of the society as a whole.

The writer has been talking about specific societies - ie associations : the NAPT, Citizen's Committees, the PTA. So the use of "the" would imply that the society refers to the association which they belong to. However, the previous reference to "general public interest, leads the reader to interpret "society" as society in general. It's not clear what the writer means - s/he has, I think, got into a muddle because of the two meanings of society" being used in such close proximity.

CKC Sep 17th, 2012 07:12 pm

Re: such a thing is detrimental to the society as a whole
 
Thank you.

susan53 Sep 18th, 2012 02:19 am

Re: such a thing is detrimental to the society as a whole
 
Again, it depends entirely on the context. You can never judge the acceptability of a single phrase without knowing the context and co-text.

CKC Sep 19th, 2012 05:21 am

Re: such a thing is detrimental to the society as a whole
 
thank you. (I got that question without context

CKC Oct 7th, 2012 08:58 am

Re: such a thing is detrimental to the society as a whole
 
Thank you.

ICAL_Pete Oct 8th, 2012 05:01 am

Re: such a thing is detrimental to the society as a whole
 
I would also add that in this case it also appears to be the mindset of the author. If the author - without explicitly saying it - is thinking about a subset of "society" (i.e. a group within that society) then they might use the; otherwise if they're thinking about all societies than they would not use it.

susan53 Oct 8th, 2012 05:42 am

Re: such a thing is detrimental to the society as a whole
 
Yes, exactly. I think here Friedman probably has a specific section of society as a whole in mind - American society possibly. You'd need to look at the cpomplete context. If he's been talking specifically about American society (or any other specific subset), then the use of "the" refers back to that.

CKC Oct 8th, 2012 09:10 pm

Re: such a thing is detrimental to the society as a whole
 
thank you very much.


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