Institution

Institution

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An institution is any structure
Social structure
Social structure is a term used in the social sciences to refer to patterned social arrangements in society that are both emergent from and determinant of the actions of the individuals. The usage of the term "social structure" has changed over time and may reflect the various levels of analysis...

 or mechanism of social order
Social order
Social order is a concept used in sociology, history and other social sciences. It refers to a set of linked social structures, social institutions and social practices which conserve, maintain and enforce "normal" ways of relating and behaving....

 and cooperation
Cooperation
Cooperation or co-operation is the process of working or acting together. In its simplest form it involves things working in harmony, side by side, while in its more complicated forms, it can involve something as complex as the inner workings of a human being or even the social patterns of a...

 governing the behavior
Behavior
Behavior or behaviour refers to the actions and mannerisms made by organisms, systems, or artificial entities in conjunction with its environment, which includes the other systems or organisms around as well as the physical environment...

 of a set of individual
Individual
An individual is a person or any specific object or thing in a collection. Individuality is the state or quality of being an individual; a person separate from other persons and possessing his or her own needs, goals, and desires. Being self expressive...

s within a given human community. Institutions are identified with a social purpose
Social purpose
Within the context of law, social purpose is a scheme of statutory construction declaring that a statute should not be construed in a way that would violate normal societal values or good. Example of cases in which this rule of construction was used include Riggs v. Palmer and Holy Trinity Church...

 and permanence, transcending individual human
Human
Humans are the only living species in the Homo genus...

 lives and intentions, and with the making and enforcing of rules governing cooperative human behavior.

The term "institution" is commonly applied to customs and behavior patterns important to a society
Society
A society, or a human society, is a group of people related to each other through persistent relations, or a large social grouping sharing the same geographical or virtual territory, subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations...

, as well as to particular formal organizations of government
Government
Government refers to the legislators, administrators, and arbitrators in the administrative bureaucracy who control a state at a given time, and to the system of government by which they are organized...

 and public service
Public services
Public services is a term usually used to mean services provided by government to its citizens, either directly or by financing private provision of services. The term is associated with a social consensus that certain services should be available to all, regardless of income...

. As structures and mechanisms of social order among humans, institutions are one of the principal objects of study in the social sciences
Social sciences
Social science is the field of study concerned with society. "Social science" is commonly used as an umbrella term to refer to a plurality of fields outside of the natural sciences usually exclusive of the administrative or managerial sciences...

, such as political science
Political science
Political Science is a social science discipline concerned with the study of the state, government and politics. Aristotle defined it as the study of the state. It deals extensively with the theory and practice of politics, and the analysis of political systems and political behavior...

, anthropology
Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

, economics
Economics
Economics is the social science that analyzes the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. The term economics comes from the Ancient Greek from + , hence "rules of the house"...

, and sociology
Sociology
Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity...

 (the latter being described by Durkheim as the "science of institutions, their genesis and their functioning"). Institutions are also a central concern for law
Law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

, the formal mechanism for political rule-making and enforcement.

Types of institution

  • Marriage
    Marriage
    Marriage is a social union or legal contract between people that creates kinship. It is an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged in a variety of ways, depending on the culture or subculture in which it is found...

     and the family
    Family
    In human context, a family is a group of people affiliated by consanguinity, affinity, or co-residence. In most societies it is the principal institution for the socialization of children...

     - sociology of the family
    Sociology of the family
    The Sociology of the family examines the family, as an institution and a unit of socialisation, through various sociological perspectives, particularly with regard to the relationship between the nuclear family and industrial capitalism, and the distinct gender roles and concepts of childhood which...

  • Religion
    Religion
    Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

     and religious institutions - see sociology of religion
    Sociology of religion
    The sociology of religion concerns the role of religion in society: practices, historical backgrounds, developments and universal themes. There is particular emphasis on the recurring role of religion in all societies and throughout recorded history...

    ; civil religion
    Civil religion
    The intended meaning of the term civil religion often varies according to whether one is a sociologist of religion or a professional political commentator...

  • Education
    Education
    Education in its broadest, general sense is the means through which the aims and habits of a group of people lives on from one generation to the next. Generally, it occurs through any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts...

    al institutions - school
    School
    A school is an institution designed for the teaching of students under the direction of teachers. Most countries have systems of formal education, which is commonly compulsory. In these systems, students progress through a series of schools...

    s (preschool
    Preschool education
    Preschool education is the provision of learning to children before the commencement of statutory and obligatory education, usually between the ages of zero and three or five, depending on the jurisdiction....

    , primary/elementary
    Primary education
    A primary school is an institution in which children receive the first stage of compulsory education known as primary or elementary education. Primary school is the preferred term in the United Kingdom and many Commonwealth Nations, and in most publications of the United Nations Educational,...

    , secondary
    Secondary education
    Secondary education is the stage of education following primary education. Secondary education includes the final stage of compulsory education and in many countries it is entirely compulsory. The next stage of education is usually college or university...

    , and post-secondary/higher
    Higher education
    Higher, post-secondary, tertiary, or third level education refers to the stage of learning that occurs at universities, academies, colleges, seminaries, and institutes of technology...

     - see Sociology of education
    Sociology of education
    The sociology of education is the study of how public institutions and individual experiences affect education and its outcomes. It is most concerned with the public schooling systems of modern industrial societies, including the expansion of higher, further, adult, and continuing...

    )
  • Research
    Research
    Research can be defined as the scientific search for knowledge, or as any systematic investigation, to establish novel facts, solve new or existing problems, prove new ideas, or develop new theories, usually using a scientific method...

     community - Academia
    Academia
    Academia is the community of students and scholars engaged in higher education and research.-Etymology:The word comes from the akademeia in ancient Greece. Outside the city walls of Athens, the gymnasium was made famous by Plato as a center of learning...

     and universities
    University
    A university is an institution of higher education and research, which grants academic degrees in a variety of subjects. A university is an organisation that provides both undergraduate education and postgraduate education...

    ; research institute
    Research institute
    A research institute is an establishment endowed for doing research. Research institutes may specialize in basic research or may be oriented to applied research...

    s - see sociology of science
  • Medicine
    Medicine
    Medicine is the science and art of healing. It encompasses a variety of health care practices evolved to maintain and restore health by the prevention and treatment of illness....

     - hospital
    Hospital
    A hospital is a health care institution providing patient treatment by specialized staff and equipment. Hospitals often, but not always, provide for inpatient care or longer-term patient stays....

    s and other health care
    Health care
    Health care is the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease, illness, injury, and other physical and mental impairments in humans. Health care is delivered by practitioners in medicine, chiropractic, dentistry, nursing, pharmacy, allied health, and other care providers...

     institutions - see sociology of health and illness
    Sociology of health and illness
    The Sociology of Health and Illness examines the interaction between society and health. The objective of this topic is to see how social life has an impact on morbidity and mortality rate, and vice versa...

    , medical sociology
    Medical sociology
    Medical sociology is the sociological analysis of medical organizations and institutions; the production of knowledges and selection of methods, the actions and interactions of healthcare professionals, and the social or cultural effects of medical practice...

    • Psychiatric hospital
      Psychiatric hospital
      Psychiatric hospitals, also known as mental hospitals, are hospitals specializing in the treatment of serious mental disorders. Psychiatric hospitals vary widely in their size and grading. Some hospitals may specialise only in short-term or outpatient therapy for low-risk patients...

      s (history
      History of psychiatric institutions
      The story of the rise of the lunatic asylum and its gradual transformation into, and eventual replacement by, the modern psychiatric hospital, is also the story of the rise of organized, institutional psychiatry...

      )
  • Law
    Law
    Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

     and legal system - court
    Court
    A court is a form of tribunal, often a governmental institution, with the authority to adjudicate legal disputes between parties and carry out the administration of justice in civil, criminal, and administrative matters in accordance with the rule of law...

    s; judge
    Judge
    A judge is a person who presides over court proceedings, either alone or as part of a panel of judges. The powers, functions, method of appointment, discipline, and training of judges vary widely across different jurisdictions. The judge is supposed to conduct the trial impartially and in an open...

    s; the legal profession (bar
    Bar (law)
    Bar in a legal context has three possible meanings: the division of a courtroom between its working and public areas; the process of qualifying to practice law; and the legal profession.-Courtroom division:...

    ) - see jurisprudence
    Jurisprudence
    Jurisprudence is the theory and philosophy of law. Scholars of jurisprudence, or legal theorists , hope to obtain a deeper understanding of the nature of law, of legal reasoning, legal systems and of legal institutions...

    , philosophy of law, sociology of law
    Sociology of law
    The sociology of law is often described as a sub-discipline of sociology or an interdisciplinary approach within legal studies...

    • Criminal justice
      Criminal justice
      Criminal Justice is the system of practices and institutions of governments directed at upholding social control, deterring and mitigating crime, or sanctioning those who violate laws with criminal penalties and rehabilitation efforts...

       or penal systems - prison
      Prison
      A prison is a place in which people are physically confined and, usually, deprived of a range of personal freedoms. Imprisonment or incarceration is a legal penalty that may be imposed by the state for the commission of a crime...

      s - see sociology of punishment
      Sociology of punishment
      The sociology of punishment seeks to understand why and how we punish; the general justifying aim of punishment and the principle of distribution. Punishment involves the intentional infliction of pain and/or the deprivation of rights and liberties...

  • Military
    Military
    A military is an organization authorized by its greater society to use lethal force, usually including use of weapons, in defending its country by combating actual or perceived threats. The military may have additional functions of use to its greater society, such as advancing a political agenda e.g...

     or paramilitary
    Paramilitary
    A paramilitary is a force whose function and organization are similar to those of a professional military, but which is not considered part of a state's formal armed forces....

     forces - see military sociology
    Military sociology
    Military sociology aims toward the systematic study of the military as a social group rather than as an organization. It is a highly specialized subfield which examines issues related to service personnel as a distinct group with coerced collective action based on shared interests linked to...

  • Police
    Police
    The police is a personification of the state designated to put in practice the enforced law, protect property and reduce civil disorder in civilian matters. Their powers include the legitimized use of force...

     forces
  • Mass media
    Mass media
    Mass media refers collectively to all media technologies which are intended to reach a large audience via mass communication. Broadcast media transmit their information electronically and comprise of television, film and radio, movies, CDs, DVDs and some other gadgets like cameras or video consoles...

     - including the news media
    News media
    The news media are those elements of the mass media that focus on delivering news to the general public or a target public.These include print media , broadcast news , and more recently the Internet .-Etymology:A medium is a carrier of something...

     (television, newspapers) and the popular media - see media studies
    Media studies
    Media studies is an academic discipline and field of study that deals with the content, history and effects of various media; in particular, the 'mass media'. Media studies may draw on traditions from both the social sciences and the humanities, but mostly from its core disciplines of mass...

  • Industry
    Industry
    Industry refers to the production of an economic good or service within an economy.-Industrial sectors:There are four key industrial economic sectors: the primary sector, largely raw material extraction industries such as mining and farming; the secondary sector, involving refining, construction,...

     - business
    Business
    A business is an organization engaged in the trade of goods, services, or both to consumers. Businesses are predominant in capitalist economies, where most of them are privately owned and administered to earn profit to increase the wealth of their owners. Businesses may also be not-for-profit...

    es, including corporation
    Corporation
    A corporation is created under the laws of a state as a separate legal entity that has privileges and liabilities that are distinct from those of its members. There are many different forms of corporations, most of which are used to conduct business. Early corporations were established by charter...

    s - see financial institution
    Financial institution
    In financial economics, a financial institution is an institution that provides financial services for its clients or members. Probably the most important financial service provided by financial institutions is acting as financial intermediaries...

    , factory
    Factory
    A factory or manufacturing plant is an industrial building where laborers manufacture goods or supervise machines processing one product into another. Most modern factories have large warehouses or warehouse-like facilities that contain heavy equipment used for assembly line production...

    , capitalism
    Capitalism
    Capitalism is an economic system that became dominant in the Western world following the demise of feudalism. There is no consensus on the precise definition nor on how the term should be used as a historical category...

    , division of labour
    Division of labour
    Division of labour is the specialisation of cooperative labour in specific, circumscribed tasks and likeroles. Historically an increasingly complex division of labour is closely associated with the growth of total output and trade, the rise of capitalism, and of the complexity of industrialisation...

    , social class
    Social class
    Social classes are economic or cultural arrangements of groups in society. Class is an essential object of analysis for sociologists, political scientists, economists, anthropologists and social historians. In the social sciences, social class is often discussed in terms of 'social stratification'...

    , industrial sociology
    Industrial sociology
    Industrial sociology, until recently a crucial research area within the field of sociology of work, examines "the direction and implications of trends in technological change, globalization, labour markets, work organization, managerial practices and employment relations to the extent to which...

  • Civil society
    Civil society
    Civil society is composed of the totality of many voluntary social relationships, civic and social organizations, and institutions that form the basis of a functioning society, as distinct from the force-backed structures of a state , the commercial institutions of the market, and private criminal...

     or NGOs - Charitable organization
    Charitable organization
    A charitable organization is a type of non-profit organization . It differs from other types of NPOs in that it centers on philanthropic goals A charitable organization is a type of non-profit organization (NPO). It differs from other types of NPOs in that it centers on philanthropic goals A...

    s; advocacy group
    Advocacy group
    Advocacy groups use various forms of advocacy to influence public opinion and/or policy; they have played and continue to play an important part in the development of political and social systems...

    s; political parties
    Political party
    A political party is a political organization that typically seeks to influence government policy, usually by nominating their own candidates and trying to seat them in political office. Parties participate in electoral campaigns, educational outreach or protest actions...

    ; think tank
    Think tank
    A think tank is an organization that conducts research and engages in advocacy in areas such as social policy, political strategy, economics, military, and technology issues. Most think tanks are non-profit organizations, which some countries such as the United States and Canada provide with tax...

    s; virtual communities
    Virtual community
    A virtual community is a social network of individuals who interact through specific media, potentially crossing geographical and political boundaries in order to pursue mutual interests or goals...



In an extended context:
  • Art
    Art
    Art is the product or process of deliberately arranging items in a way that influences and affects one or more of the senses, emotions, and intellect....

     and culture
    Culture
    Culture is a term that has many different inter-related meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions...

     (See also: Culture industry
    Culture industry
    Culture industry is a term coined by critical theorists Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer , who argued in the chapter of their book Dialectic of Enlightenment, 'The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception' ; that popular culture is akin to a factory producing standardized cultural goods...

    , Critical theory
    Critical theory
    Critical theory is an examination and critique of society and culture, drawing from knowledge across the social sciences and humanities. The term has two different meanings with different origins and histories: one originating in sociology and the other in literary criticism...

    , Cultural studies
    Cultural studies
    Cultural studies is an academic field grounded in critical theory and literary criticism. It generally concerns the political nature of contemporary culture, as well as its historical foundations, conflicts, and defining traits. It is, to this extent, largely distinguished from cultural...

    , Cultural sociology)
  • Language
    Language
    Language may refer either to the specifically human capacity for acquiring and using complex systems of communication, or to a specific instance of such a system of complex communication...

     (See also: Linguistics
    Linguistics
    Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. Linguistics can be broadly broken into three categories or subfields of study: language form, language meaning, and language in context....

    , Sociolinguistics
    Sociolinguistics
    Sociolinguistics is the descriptive study of the effect of any and all aspects of society, including cultural norms, expectations, and context, on the way language is used, and the effects of language use on society...

    , Sociology of language
    Sociology of language
    Sociology of language focuses on the language's effect on the society. It is closely related to the field of sociolinguistics, which focuses on the effect of the society on the language....

    )
  • The nation-state
    Nation-state
    The nation state is a state that self-identifies as deriving its political legitimacy from serving as a sovereign entity for a nation as a sovereign territorial unit. The state is a political and geopolitical entity; the nation is a cultural and/or ethnic entity...

     - Social and political scientists often speak of the state as embodying all institutions such as schools, prisons, and so on. However, these institutions may be considered private or autonomous, whilst organised religion and family life certainly pre-date the advent of the nation state. In the Neo-Marxist thought of Antonio Gramsci
    Antonio Gramsci
    Antonio Gramsci was an Italian writer, politician, political philosopher, and linguist. He was a founding member and onetime leader of the Communist Party of Italy and was imprisoned by Benito Mussolini's Fascist regime...

    , for instance, a distinction may be felt between the institutions of political society (the police, the army, legal system, etc.) which dominates directly and coercively, and civil society (the family, the education system, etc.)

Aspects of institutions


Although individual, formal organizations, commonly identified as "institutions," may be deliberately and intentionally created by people, the development and functioning of institutions in society in general may be regarded as an instance of emergence
Emergence
In philosophy, systems theory, science, and art, emergence is the way complex systems and patterns arise out of a multiplicity of relatively simple interactions. Emergence is central to the theories of integrative levels and of complex systems....

; that is, institutions arise, develop and function in a pattern of social self-organization, which goes beyond the conscious intentions of the individual humans involved.

As mechanisms of social interaction, institutions are manifest in both objectively real, formal organizations, such as the U.S. Congress, or the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

, and, also, in informal social order and organization, reflecting human psychology, culture, habits and customs. Most important institutions, considered abstractly, have both objective and subjective aspects: examples include money
Money
Money is any object or record that is generally accepted as payment for goods and services and repayment of debts in a given country or socio-economic context. The main functions of money are distinguished as: a medium of exchange; a unit of account; a store of value; and, occasionally in the past,...

 and marriage
Marriage
Marriage is a social union or legal contract between people that creates kinship. It is an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged in a variety of ways, depending on the culture or subculture in which it is found...

. The institution of money encompasses many formal organizations, including banks and government treasury departments and stock exchanges, which may be termed, "institutions," as well as subjective experiences, which guide people in their pursuit of personal well-being. Powerful institutions are able to imbue a paper currency with certain value, and to induce millions into cooperative production and trade in pursuit of economic ends abstractly denominated in that currency's units. The subjective experience of money is so pervasive and persuasive that economists talk of the "money illusion
Money illusion
In economics, money illusion refers to the tendency of people to think of currency in nominal, rather than real, terms. In other words, the numerical/face value of money is mistaken for its purchasing power...

" and try to disabuse their students of it, in preparation for learning economic analysis.

Perspectives of the social sciences


While institutions tend to appear to people in society as part of the natural, unchanging landscape of their lives, study of institutions by the social sciences tends to reveal the nature of institutions as social constructions, artifact
Cultural artifact
A cultural artifact is a term used in the social sciences, particularly anthropology, ethnology, and sociology for anything created by humans which gives information about the culture of its creator and users...

s of a particular time, culture and society, produced by collective human choice, though not directly by individual intention. Sociology traditionally analyzed social institutions in terms of interlocking social role
Role
A role or a social role is a set of connected behaviours, rights and obligations as conceptualised by actors in a social situation. It is an expected or free or continuously changing behaviour and may have a given individual social status or social position...

s and expectations. Social institutions created and were composed of groups of roles, or expected behaviors. The social function of the institution was executed by the fulfillment of roles. Basic biological requirements, for reproduction and care of the young, are served by the institutions of marriage and family, for example, by creating, elaborating and prescribing the behaviors expected for husband/father, wife/mother, child, etc.

The relationship of institutions to human nature is a foundational question for the social sciences. Institutions can be seen as "naturally" arising from, and conforming to, human nature—a fundamentally conservative view—or institutions can be seen as artificial, almost accidental, and in need of architectural redesign, informed by expert social analysis, to better serve human needs—a fundamentally progressive view. Adam Smith
Adam Smith
Adam Smith was a Scottish social philosopher and a pioneer of political economy. One of the key figures of the Scottish Enlightenment, Smith is the author of The Theory of Moral Sentiments and An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations...

 anchored his economics in the supposed human "propensity to truck, barter and exchange". Modern feminists
Feminism
Feminism is a collection of movements aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights and equal opportunities for women. Its concepts overlap with those of women's rights...

 have criticized traditional marriage and other institutions as element of an oppressive and obsolete patriarchy
Patriarchy
Patriarchy is a social system in which the role of the male as the primary authority figure is central to social organization, and where fathers hold authority over women, children, and property. It implies the institutions of male rule and privilege, and entails female subordination...

. The Marxist view which sees human nature as historically 'evolving' towards voluntary social cooperation, shared by some anarchist
Anarchism
Anarchism is generally defined as the political philosophy which holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful, or alternatively as opposing authority in the conduct of human relations...

s, is that supraindividual institutions such as the market and the state are incompatible with the individual liberty which would obtain in a truly free society.

Economics, in recent years, has used game theory
Game theory
Game theory is a mathematical method for analyzing calculated circumstances, such as in games, where a person’s success is based upon the choices of others...

 to study institutions from two perspectives. Firstly, how do institutions survive and evolve? In this perspective, institutions arise from Nash equilibria
Nash equilibrium
In game theory, Nash equilibrium is a solution concept of a game involving two or more players, in which each player is assumed to know the equilibrium strategies of the other players, and no player has anything to gain by changing only his own strategy unilaterally...

 of games. For example, whenever people pass each other in a corridor or thoroughfare, there is a need for customs, which avoid collisions. Such a custom might call for each party to keep to their own right (or left—such a choice is arbitrary, it is only necessary that the choice be uniform and consistent). Such customs may be supposed to be the origin of rules, such as the rule, adopted in many countries, which requires driving automobiles on the right side of the road.

Secondly, how do institutions affect behaviour? In this perspective, the focus is on behaviour arising from a given set of institutional rules. In these models, institutions determine the rules (i.e. strategy sets and utility functions) of games, rather than arise as equilibria out of games. For example, the Cournot duopoly model is based on an institution involving an auctioneer who sells all goods at the market-clearing price. While it is always possible to analyse behaviour with the institutions-as-equilibria approach instead, it is much more complicated.

In political science
Political science
Political Science is a social science discipline concerned with the study of the state, government and politics. Aristotle defined it as the study of the state. It deals extensively with the theory and practice of politics, and the analysis of political systems and political behavior...

, the effect of institutions on behavior has also been considered from a meme
Meme
A meme is "an idea, behaviour or style that spreads from person to person within a culture."A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols or practices, which can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals or other imitable phenomena...

 perspective, like game theory borrowed from biology. A "memetic institutionalism
Memetic institutionalism
Memetic institutionalism is a term created by Mikael Sandberg in Social Capital and Democratisation. Roots of Trust in Post-Communist Poland and Ukraine . Memetic institutionalism proposes the interpretation of institutions as evolving in a Darwinian fashion, analogous to that of memes....

" has been proposed, suggesting that institutions provide selection environments for political action, whereby differentiated retention arises and thereby a Darwinian evolution of institutions over time. Public choice theory
Public choice theory
In economics, public choice theory is the use of modern economic tools to study problems that traditionally are in the province of political science...

, another branch of economics with a close relationship to political science, considers how government policy choices are made, and seeks to determine what the policy outcomes are likely to be, given a particular political decision-making process and context.

In history, a distinction between eras or periods, implies a major and fundamental change in the system of institutions governing a society. Political and military events are judged to be of historical significance to the extent that they are associated with changes in institutions. In European history, particular significance is attached to the long transition from the feudal
Feudalism
Feudalism was a set of legal and military customs in medieval Europe that flourished between the 9th and 15th centuries, which, broadly defined, was a system for ordering society around relationships derived from the holding of land in exchange for service or labour.Although derived from the...

 institutions of the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 to the modern
Modern World
Modern World or The Modern World may refer to:*Modernity, a popular academic term.*The modern era, the age in which people today now live.*Modern World, a song by Wolf Parade from their 2005 album Apologies to the Queen Mary....

 institutions, which govern contemporary life.

Institutionalisation


The term "institutionalisation" is widely used in social theory to refer to the process of embedding something (for example a concept, a social role, a particular value or mode of behaviour) within an organisation, social system, or society as a whole. The term may also be used to refer to committing a particular individual to an institution, such as a mental institution. To this extent, "institutionalisation" may carry negative connotations regarding the treatment of, and damage caused to, vulnerable human beings by the oppressive or corrupt application of inflexible systems of social, medical, or legal controls by publicly owned, private or not-for-profit organisations.

The term "institutionalisation" may also be used in a political sense to apply to the creation or organisation of governmental institutions or particular bodies responsible for overseeing or implementing policy, for example in welfare or development.

Institutionalisation as a socio-political phenomenon in Europe


During the period of the industrial revolution in Europe many countries went through a period of "institutionalisation", which saw a large expansion and development of the role of government within society, particularly into areas seen previously as the private sphere. Institutionalisation is also seen as being an important part of process of modernisation in developing countries, involving again the expansion and improved organisation of government structures.

Public and civic organisations acquired great authority and wealth during and in the century following the Industrial Revolution
Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution was a period from the 18th to the 19th century where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions of the times...

 in the UK and other rapidly developing nation states. The growing demands of industry for high volume labour supplies in the nineteenth century also created an ethos in which the needs and rights of the unproductive or vulnerable individual were deemed less important than the needs of society as a whole. Large numbers of beggars and high rates of crime and disease were a consequence of the massive social and economic changes experienced in the period following the battle of Waterloo
Battle of Waterloo
The Battle of Waterloo was fought on Sunday 18 June 1815 near Waterloo in present-day Belgium, then part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands...

. Social unrest from the Peterloo riots onwards resulted in a significant Chartist
Chartism
Chartism was a movement for political and social reform in the United Kingdom during the mid-19th century, between 1838 and 1859. It takes its name from the People's Charter of 1838. Chartism was possibly the first mass working class labour movement in the world...

 challenge to established authority on the streets of major cities like Sheffield
Sheffield
Sheffield is a city and metropolitan borough of South Yorkshire, England. Its name derives from the River Sheaf, which runs through the city. Historically a part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, and with some of its southern suburbs annexed from Derbyshire, the city has grown from its largely...

, Manchester
Manchester
Manchester is a city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England. According to the Office for National Statistics, the 2010 mid-year population estimate for Manchester was 498,800. Manchester lies within one of the UK's largest metropolitan areas, the metropolitan county of Greater...

, and Glasgow
Glasgow
Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland and third most populous in the United Kingdom. The city is situated on the River Clyde in the country's west central lowlands...

 in the 1840s.

During the period from 1850-1930 many types of institutions were created by public subscription, parliament and local authorities to provide housing, healthcare, education, and financial support for individuals in need. At the upper end of the scale, public boarding schools such as Eton
Eton College
Eton College, often referred to simply as Eton, is a British independent school for boys aged 13 to 18. It was founded in 1440 by King Henry VI as "The King's College of Our Lady of Eton besides Wyndsor"....

 and Harrow
Harrow School
Harrow School, commonly known simply as "Harrow", is an English independent school for boys situated in the town of Harrow, in north-west London.. The school is of worldwide renown. There is some evidence that there has been a school on the site since 1243 but the Harrow School we know today was...

 were founded or greatly extended to meet the growing demand for the education of the children of those in colonial service overseas. These were seen as models of social improvement, and many inferior imitations followed for the lower social orders. Virtually every borough in the UK was required by legislation to make provision for paupers, homeless, released prisoners, convicted criminals, orphans, disabled war veterans, older people with no means of support, deaf and blind schools, schools and colonies for those with learning disabilities or mental health problems.

Distinguishing features of such institutions were frequently, but not exclusively:
  • communal dormitories
  • communal kitchens and dining facilities
  • rural, isolated locations
  • restrictions on personal liberty and possessions
  • uniforms
  • oppressive, authoritarian regimes
  • strict systems of rules and codes of conduct
  • use of well-recognized propaganda techniques
  • boards of visitors or trustees, usually drawn from the ranks of the upper middle classes, the so-called "great and good"
  • hierarchical systems of management
  • compulsory religious attendance
  • involvement of inmates as unpaid or poorly rewarded labour in return for small privileges
  • widespread abuse of human rights, dignity
  • rigid separation of the sexes
  • excessive reliance on medication and physical restraints


Many of these organisations, whilst originally expressing idealistic aspirations and aims, became "total" institutions within a generation or two of their foundation, providing in some cases cradle to grave housing, occupation and social control. Founding charters usually proclaimed beneficial outcomes of "reform" (or rehabilitation) of character through moral and occupation education and discipline, but in practice inmates were often trapped in a system that provided no obvious route of escape or promotion. As late as the 1950s, in Britain, several hundred thousand people lived in Victorian
Victorian era
The Victorian era of British history was the period of Queen Victoria's reign from 20 June 1837 until her death on 22 January 1901. It was a long period of peace, prosperity, refined sensibilities and national self-confidence...

 asylums and "colonies".

Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer of 18th-century Romanticism. His political philosophy influenced the French Revolution as well as the overall development of modern political, sociological and educational thought.His novel Émile: or, On Education is a treatise...

 wrote in his opus The Social Contract
Social Contract (Rousseau)
Of The Social Contract, Or Principles of Political Right by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, is the book in which Rousseau theorized about the best way in which to set up a political community in the face of the problems of commercial society which he had already identified in his Discourse on Inequality...

that "Slaves lose everything in their chains, even the desire of escaping from them: they love their servitude". Institutionalisation is a similar process.

Deconstruction of major social institutions


The dangers of institutions were chronicled and criticised by reformers almost since their foundation. Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens
Charles John Huffam Dickens was an English novelist, generally considered the greatest of the Victorian period. Dickens enjoyed a wider popularity and fame than had any previous author during his lifetime, and he remains popular, having been responsible for some of English literature's most iconic...

 was an outspoken and high profile early critic, and several of his novels, in particular Oliver Twist
Oliver Twist
Oliver Twist; or, The Parish Boy's Progress is the second novel by English author Charles Dickens, published by Richard Bentley in 1838. The story is about an orphan Oliver Twist, who endures a miserable existence in a workhouse and then is placed with an undertaker. He escapes and travels to...

and Hard Times
Hard Times
Hard Times - For These Times is the tenth novel by Charles Dickens, first published in 1854. The book appraises English society and is aimed at highlighting the social and economic pressures of the times....

demonstrate his insight into the damage that institutions can do to human beings.

Enoch Powell
Enoch Powell
John Enoch Powell, MBE was a British politician, classical scholar, poet, writer, and soldier. He served as a Conservative Party MP and Minister of Health . He attained most prominence in 1968, when he made the controversial Rivers of Blood speech in opposition to mass immigration from...

, when Minister for Health in the early 1960s, was a later opponent who was appalled by what he witnessed on his visits to the asylums, and his famous "water tower" speech in 1961 called for the closure of all NHS asylums and their replacement by wards in general hospitals:
"There they stand, isolated, majestic, imperious, brooded over by the gigantic water-tower and chimney combined, rising unmistakable and daunting out of the countryside - the asylums which our forefathers built with such immense solidity to express the notions of their day. Do not for a moment underestimate their powers of resistance to our assault. Let me describe some of the defences which we have to storm."


Scandal after scandal followed, with many high profile public inquiries. These involved the exposure of abuses such as unscientific surgical techniques such as lobotomy
Lobotomy
Lobotomy "; τομή – tomē: "cut/slice") is a neurosurgical procedure, a form of psychosurgery, also known as a leukotomy or leucotomy . It consists of cutting the connections to and from the prefrontal cortex, the anterior part of the frontal lobes of the brain...

 and the widespread neglect and abuse of vulnerable patients in the USA and Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

. The growing anti-psychiatry
Anti-psychiatry
Anti-psychiatry is a configuration of groups and theoretical constructs that emerged in the 1960s, and questioned the fundamental assumptions and practices of psychiatry, such as its claim that it achieves universal, scientific objectivity. Its igniting influences were Michel Foucault, R.D. Laing,...

 movement in the 1960s and 1970s led in Italy to the first successful legislative challenge to the authority of the mental institutions, culminating in their closure.

During the 1980
s and 1990s the hospital population started to fall rapidly, mainly because of the deaths of long-term inmates. Significant efforts were made to re-house large numbers of former residents in a variety of suitable or otherwise alternative accommodation. The first 1,000+ bed hospital to close was Darenth Park
Darenth Park
Darenth Park Hospital was founded by the Metropolitan Asylums Board in Darenth near Dartford in Kent as "Darenth School" for 500 children with learning disabilities on 18 November 1878...

 in Kent
Kent
Kent is a county in southeast England, and is one of the home counties. It borders East Sussex, Surrey and Greater London and has a defined boundary with Essex in the middle of the Thames Estuary. The ceremonial county boundaries of Kent include the shire county of Kent and the unitary borough of...

, swiftly followed by many more across the UK. The haste of these closures, driven by the Conservative
Conservative Party (UK)
The Conservative Party, formally the Conservative and Unionist Party, is a centre-right political party in the United Kingdom that adheres to the philosophies of conservatism and British unionism. It is the largest political party in the UK, and is currently the largest single party in the House...

 governments led by Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher, was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990...

 and John Major
John Major
Sir John Major, is a British Conservative politician, who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Conservative Party from 1990–1997...

, led to considerable criticism in the press, as some individuals slipped through the net into homelessness or were discharged to poor quality private sector mini-institutions. The resistance of many institutions to change, predicted by Enoch Powell
Enoch Powell
John Enoch Powell, MBE was a British politician, classical scholar, poet, writer, and soldier. He served as a Conservative Party MP and Minister of Health . He attained most prominence in 1968, when he made the controversial Rivers of Blood speech in opposition to mass immigration from...

, has continued into the 21st century, and there are still several thousand people permanently resident in the dwindling asylums and long stay hospital replacement campuses scattered across the UK.

Disciplined Minds
Disciplined Minds
Disciplined Minds is a book by physicist Jeff Schmidt, published in the year 2000. The book describes how professionals are made; the methods of professional and graduate schools that turn eager entering students into disciplined managerial and intellectual workers that correctly perceive and...

 by Jeff Schmidt
Jeff Schmidt (writer)
Jeff Schmidt is a physicist who wrote Disciplined Minds, a critique of the socialization and training of professionals. Schmidt was fired from his job of 19 years as an associate editor for Physics Today, the magazine of the American Institute of Physics , on allegations that he wrote the book on...

 details how professional training programs and other induction procedures to institutions socialize new recruits to respect group norms whilst selecting those newcomers not only technically capable to function within the institution but also responsive to its socialization process.

See also


  • Actor analysis
    Actor analysis
    Actor analysis can be seen as an approach to environmental management. Environmenal issues are often very complex, because many parties are involved. All parties have their own interests, goals and strategies...

  • Deinstitutionalisation
    Deinstitutionalisation
    Deinstitutionalization or deinstitutionalization is the process of replacing long-stay psychiatric hospitals with less isolated community mental health service for those diagnosed with a mental disorder or developmental disability. Deinstitutionalization can have multiple definitions; the first...

  • state
    State (polity)
    A state is an organized political community, living under a government. States may be sovereign and may enjoy a monopoly on the legal initiation of force and are not dependent on, or subject to any other power or state. Many states are federated states which participate in a federal union...

    , Nation
    Nation
    A nation may refer to a community of people who share a common language, culture, ethnicity, descent, and/or history. In this definition, a nation has no physical borders. However, it can also refer to people who share a common territory and government irrespective of their ethnic make-up...

    , country
    Country
    A country is a region legally identified as a distinct entity in political geography. A country may be an independent sovereign state or one that is occupied by another state, as a non-sovereign or formerly sovereign political division, or a geographic region associated with a previously...

    , Sovereign state
    Sovereign state
    A sovereign state, or simply, state, is a state with a defined territory on which it exercises internal and external sovereignty, a permanent population, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood to be a state which is neither...

  • for effect on individuals: institutionalisation
  • Erving Goffman
    Erving Goffman
    Erving Goffman was a Canadian-born sociologist and writer.The 73rd president of American Sociological Association, Goffman's greatest contribution to social theory is his study of symbolic interaction in the form of dramaturgical perspective that began with his 1959 book The Presentation of Self...

  • Historical institutionalism
    Historical institutionalism
    Historical institutionalism is a social science method that uses institutions in order to find sequences of social, political, economic behavior and change across time...

  • Ideological state apparatus
  • Institute
    Institute
    An institute is a permanent organizational body created for a certain purpose. Often it is a research organization created to do research on specific topics...

  • Institutional abuse
    Institutional abuse
    Institutional abuse can typically occur in a care home, nursing home, acute hospital or in-patient setting and can be any of the following:Institutional abuse also refers to child abuse in institutions where children were placed for their education, welfare, rehabilitation, or even protection...

  • Institutional economics
    Institutional economics
    Institutional economics focuses on understanding the role of the evolutionary process and the role of institutions in shaping economic behaviour. Its original focus lay in Thorstein Veblen's instinct-oriented dichotomy between technology on the one side and the "ceremonial" sphere of society on the...

  • Institutional logic
    Institutional logic
    Institutional Logic is a core concept in sociological theory and organizational studies. It focuses on how broader belief systems shape the cognition and behavior of actors....

  • Institutional memory
    Institutional memory
    Institutional memory is a collective set of facts, concepts, experiences and know-how held by a group of people. As it transcends the individual, it requires the ongoing transmission of these memories between members of this group...

  • Linkage institution
    Linkage institution
    A linkage institution is a structure within a society that connects the people to the government or centralized authority. These institutions include: elections, political parties, interest groups, and the media.-Development:...


Further reading