Social Institution: the major spheres of social life, or societal subsystems, organized to meet human needs. Institutions are relatively stable and predictable social arrangements created and sustained by people that emerged over time with purpose of coordinating human activities to meet some human needs.
Five Major Social Institutions:
Family: This social institution is found all societies that unites people in cooperative groups to care for another, including children.
Education: This social institution is through which society provides its members with important knowledge, including basic facts, job skills, and cultural norms and values.
Economy: This social institution organizes a society’s production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services.
Political/State: This social institution distributes power, sets a society’s goals, and make decisions.
Religion: This social institution involves beliefs and practices based on recognizing the sacred. The sacred is defined as something considered set apart as extraordinary; inspiring awe and reverence. The identification of something as sacred is the essence of all religious belief.
As societies become more complex so do social institutions. Not all societies have the same social institutions.
4 characteristics of Social Institutions:
Institutions have history. Institutions have standardized ways of doing things that have come to be viewed as custom and tradition. Most people accept them without question.
Institutions constantly change. The ways of doing things over time become outdated and are replaced by new ways. Change can be planned, orderly, forced, and chaotic. Change can come from within or from outside the institution. (family—changing to accommodate new family forms, differences in gender roles)
Institutions allocate scarce and valued resources in unequal ways. They also allocate privileged and disadvantaged status. Inequalities can be reflected in individuals’ salaries, benefits, degree of autonomy, and amount of prestige.
Institutions promote ideologies that legitimate their existence. These legitimating ideologies are largely created and advanced by those occupying the most advantaged statuses or by those who benefit from institutionalized ways of doing things. The masses often accept these ideologies and resist change.
1 What are four (4) key aspects in understanding the Sociological Imagination?
2 Why is it important to understand the Sociological Imagination?
3 Using the information from the reading on the Social Institutions:
Choose two social institutions and explain the purpose of each social institution.
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