Social Institutions

The structures or systems of social cooperation and order that controls the conduct of a group of people inside groups and societies are social institutions.
Social Institutions Sociology Definition

Definition of Social Institutions/Social Institution

H. E. Barnes describes social institutions as “The social structure and machinery through which human society organizes, directs & executes the multifarious activities required to society for human need.”

Polish-British anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski defines a social institution as “A group of people united by a common interest, endowed by material equipment, following rules of their tradition or agreement (charter) and contributing to the work of culture as a whole.”

Bertrand Russell states that “institutions are a system of social relationships for meeting various felt human needs.”

Charles H. Page and Robert Morrison MacIver define social institutions as “An established form or the condition of a procedure.”

Francis E. Merrill states, “Social Institutions are more regularised and formal, and hence differ from other patterns. The needs they meet, the values they serve, and the directions they provide are so important that every society organizes institutional behavior more formally than the lesser important behavior.”

In the opinion of Horton and Hunt, “An institution is an organized system of social relationships which embodies certain common values and procedures and meets certain basic needs of the society.”

According to Israeli sociologist Shmuel Noah Eisenstadt, ” Institutions are those processes and structures, together with the associated set of regulative principles, that arrange human activities in a community into definite organizational patterns from the point of view of some of the perennial, basic problems of any society or ordered social life.”

American sociologist Jonathan H. Turner defines it as “a complex of positions, roles, norms and values lodged in particular types of social structures and organizing relatively stable patterns of human activity with respect to fundamental problems in producing life-sustaining resources, in reproducing individuals, and in sustaining viable societal structures within a given environment.”

British Sociologist Anthony Giddens states, “Institutions by definition are the more enduring features of social life.”

Horace Romano states that an institution is an “Interlocking double-structure of persons-as-role-holders or office-bearers and the like, and of social practices involving both expressive and practical aims and outcomes.”

According to Morris Ginsberg, social institutions “may be described as recognized and established usages governing the relations between individuals and groups.”

Graham Sumner explains that “Institution is a concept and a structure. The concept means ideas, notions, doctrine, or interest. Structure means a framework, apparatus, or perhaps only a number of functionaries set to co-operate in prescribed ways at a certain conjuncture”.

Sociological explanation

A structure or system of social cooperation and order that controls the conduct of a group of people inside a particular community or group is referred to as a social institution. By implementing the laws that govern cooperative behavior, institutions are seen as having a collective significance and durability that exceed individual lives and intentionality.

Institutions serve as socialization forces, meaning they direct people to comply with their standards, even though they are undoubtedly made up of individuals and produce rules through their interactional activities.

In sociology, five central institutions considered necessary include family, education, economy, polity, and religion.

An institution is a set of rules or, more precisely, a coordinated collection of folkways and mores based on a significant human activity that people see as vital. Institutions are organized systems that enable individuals to conduct their daily lives.

Institutions may be formal, informal, or abstract. The purpose of formal institutions is to control human conduct. Informal institutions are not intended to govern behavior but often do so as members attempt to uphold community values. Institutions, like the institution of marriage, are abstract institutions.

Sociology often examines social structures regarding how interdependent social roles and expectations are. Social institutions develop and define themselves by the social roles they produce for their constituents. The institution’s social function is the performance of its designated duties.


According to Durkheim, religions, particularly long-standing faiths like Judaism, are institutions that give individuals a profound feeling of collective consciousness. Marriage is another example of a social institution.

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