institution


institution
institution, social institution
The use of the term institution in sociology, meaning established aspects of society, is close to that in common English usage. However, there have been some changes over time in the exact conceptualization of the term, and there are differences in the analytical precision with which it is used.
In some ways an institution can be seen as a sort of ‘super-custom’, a set of mores , folkways , and patterns of behaviour that deals with major social interests: law, church, and family for example. Thus, a social institution consists of all the structural components of a society through which the main concerns and activities are organized, and social needs (such as those for order, belief, and reproduction) are met. This was certainly the sense in which the term was used by Herbert Spencer and Talcott Parsons , for both of whom it was central to the notion of society as an organism or functioning system. However, as the functionalist perspective gave way to ideas based on society as being in a state of flux, with less consensus over values, so the Parsonsian association between institution and function also withered away.
The current concept of institution is more fluid, seeing the family or church, for instance, as comprising changing patterns of behaviour based on relatively more stable value systems. This allows sociologists to consider the moral ambivalence of human behaviour as well as its creative effects on social change .
In addition to these more global and theoretical concerns, there is also a tradition of the ethnographic study of institutions that constrain, or from some points of view determine, the behaviour of specific social groups. Chief among these are Erving Goffman's studies of total institutions -for example the mental hospital (see Asylums, 1961).

Dictionary of sociology. 2013.

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  • institution — [ ɛ̃stitysjɔ̃ ] n. f. • 1190; lat. institutio I ♦ 1 ♦ Rare Action d instituer. ⇒ création, établissement, fondation. L institution d une fête annuelle, d une commission d enquête. L institution du calendrier grégorien en 1582. « l institution du… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • institution — in‧sti‧tu‧tion [ˌɪnstˈtjuːʆn ǁ ˈtuː ] noun 1. [countable] a large important organization: • Japanese institutions are steadily increasing their presence in Europe. • the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors deˈpository instiˌtution… …   Financial and business terms

  • institution — Institution. s. f. v. Action par laquelle on instituë, on establit. L Institution des jeux Olympiques. l institution d un tel Ordre. l institution des Pairs de France, du Parlement. les paroles sont de l institution des hommes. c est une loüable …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • Institution — In sti*tu tion, n. [L. institutio: cf. F. institution.] [1913 Webster] 1. The act or process of instituting; as: (a) Establishment; foundation; enactment; as, the institution of a school. [1913 Webster] The institution of God s law is described… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • institution — in·sti·tu·tion n 1: the act of instituting 2: a significant practice, relationship, or organization in a society or culture the institution of marriage 3: an established organization or corporation esp. of a public character; specif: a facility… …   Law dictionary

  • Institution — (v. lat. Institutio), 1) Einsetzung, Einrichtung, bes. die politischen Einrichtungen eines Staates, welche die Rechte u. Freiheiten der Staatsbürger der Regierung gegenüber garantiren sollen; 2) Beförderung zu einem Amte od. einer Kirchenpfründe; …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Institution — (lat.), Stiftung, Anordnung, Einrichtung, bes. Staats und bürgerliche Einrichtung; auch Einsetzung in ein Amt. Institutionen, Unterweisungen, Teil des Corpus juris, welcher eine enzyklopäd. Übersicht des röm. Rechts enthält, unter Justinian 533… …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • institution — c.1400, action of establishing or founding (a system of government, a religious order, etc.), from O.Fr. institucion foundation; thing established, from L. institutionem (nom. institutio) disposition, arrangement; instruction, education, noun of… …   Etymology dictionary

  • Institution — [Network (Rating 5600 9600)] …   Deutsch Wörterbuch

  • institution — ► NOUN 1) an important organization or public body, such as a university, bank, hospital, or Church. 2) an organization providing residential care for people with special needs. 3) an established law or custom. 4) informal a well established and… …   English terms dictionary