Institutions are systems and structures of social support and order that preside over the conduct of a group of individuals within a particular human set. Society’s fundamental customs and behavior patterns, as well as formal organizations, can all be referred to as institutions. Institutions are formal associations like bureaucracies and the formal and informal rules that direct behavior.
Institutions exist for a host of reasons. They form an essential part of one’s life. Firstly, they assist people in executing their role in society. They boost ones abilities hence developing into a fully complete human being. Institutions are establishments, organizations, societies, foundations or the like, committed to the promotion of a certain cause. The very foundation of ones life lies in the institution in which one is drawn.
Institutions aid in creating and shaping interests. They have some influence on the goals of actors as well as place restrictions on the options available to individuals to accomplish those goals (Hall 52; March and Olsen 204). Institutions help us appreciate the reason some outcomes are more likely than others, and how sought after outcomes can be achieved. Institutional configuration generates ‘path dependency’, with diverse paths having different repercussions for growth.
Institutions also sort out the available opportunities for people and describe their social roles. They are self-reproducing in that the rules entailed by them ratified repeatedly. Actors do not question every action they undertake. Many decisions are based on habits developed with time. This regularly leads to the inferred hypothesis that role, opportunities or actions are ‘natural’ and consequently not questionable.
Goods and services often are produced in an institutional setting. This is because people create more value when working in an organized setting than when working separately. People working in organized institutions more often are more productive and efficient at their work than those who work alone. Institutions make a good environment for specialization and a division of labor. By their very nature, organizations give room for individuals to center on a narrow area of expertise. This, in turn, allows them to become more skilled and specialized.
The major institutions that impact on my life and a comparison of how they impact on my life and the lives of other individuals:
Various institutions that have impacted and continue to impact my life in an incredibly significant way because they bring out the best of what I have. One such institution that has impacted my life is the educational institution. I have spent most of my time in life up until now in school, and it is in this institution that I have fully improved my intellectual skills. I have been cultured to think logically and reason out in a rational manner. It has been an eye opener for me letting me see reality. It revealed a life past my comfort zone. It gave me the confidence to interact with people of different kinds. It is where I have developed and honed my social skills. In this institution, I have made my first friends and fought first my first battle. It is where I have learnt and still is learning.
Another Institution that has impacted on my life is the religious institution. The church has made me aware of a superior being. The church institution explained what the educational institution could not. The church has taught me to have faith in someone I have not seen. It has guided my conscience and my heart in every dilemma I face. From this institution, I have learned to be a follower of a being trust but have never met. The third institution that has and is still impacting on my life is the government. This institution has defined me as a human. The government has instilled discipline in me. Through imposing penalties, the government has clearly differentiated right from wrong. This institution has educated me on how to be a responsible citizen. It has taught me that, in everything I do, a number of people could be affected either in a good or bad way. This institution established the consciousness of the world not made only for me. In this institution, I have learnt that I am a citizen, and I might have a dissimilar point of view from the government but submit to them. Lastly, my family is the institution that has impacted the greatest in my life. My family has imparted into me all the values that I suppose I would require in life. I was not brought up in an abusive family; this shapes my personality in that it makes me less aggressive towards my peers. This taught me that you cannot get your way by using force, but through patience. The family institution has positively influenced my life by treating me like a person, something that gets impaired with ease.
These major institutions have guided me all through my life. They have had the greatest positive impact in my life. They have differentiated between human and animals. Through the skills impacted by educational institutions, I can express my thoughts and feelings. I can put my trust in a supreme being in full knowledge that this being wants the best for me. I can play my part in the society as a responsible citizen by submitting to the person in power. Without a doubt, these Institutions have been and will certainly continue to be a very important part in my life because they serve as the basis for a person to be human.
Lessons from the institutions, which were unknown to me before the class:
In this class, I have come to learn a lot about these institutions that have impacted on my life so much. I have learnt that people and their growth may intentionally and purposely create institutions. However, the functioning in society could be termed as an occurrence of emergence. Institutions crop up, grow, and function in a model of social self-organization, which transcends the conscious purposes of the individual person involved.
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I have come to learn that as systems of social cooperation, institutions are noticeable in both objectively real, formal organizations, such as the Roman Catholic Church or the U.S. Senate. Additionally, they are conspicuous in non-formal social order and organizations that imitate habits, customs, culture, and human psychology. Almost every important institution, when considered in abstract terms, has both objective and subjective aspects. Take the institution of money for instance. This institution includes numerous formal organizations such as banks and the treasury departments in the government and stock markets, which can be called “Institutions," as well as experiences, which are subjective, which guide people in their quest for individual well-being. Powerful organizations are capable of imbuing a paper currency with some value, and to stimulate millions of people into mutual production and trade in search of financial ends abstractly denominated in that legal tender (currency). The subjective element of money is so enveloping and convincing that economists will talk of the "money illusion" and attempt at disabusing their students of it, in readiness for learning economic analysis.
Before this class, Institutions tended to appear to me as part of the natural, rigid setting of life. This study of institutions has revealed to me institutions’ nature as social creations, artifacts of a particular society, Culture, and time, fashioned by collective human choice, not directly by a single person intention. I have also learnt to analyze institutions in terms of intertwining social roles and expectations. Social institutions are made up expected behaviors or groups of roles. Their social function is executed by the execution of these roles. For example, the institutions of marriage and the family carry out the critical biological obligations for reproduction and care of children, by making, detailing and stipulating the behaviors expected for wife/mother, husband/father, child, etc. I used to view institutions as naturally occurring from, and in compliance with, the nature of human. Now I have come to appreciate them as artificial, nearly inadvertent, and needing architectural revamp, informed by specialist social analysis, to serve human needs in a better way.
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I have also learned that institutions relate with behavior through either one of two opposing perspectives. Firstly, in what ways do institutions survive and evolve? In this perspective, customs or behaviors are seen as the starting point of rules. For example, each time people pass each other in a hallway or street, customs, which aid to avoid collisions, are needed. Such a custom may call for either party to keep to their left or right (such a pick is arbitrary; it is only obligatory that the choice be homogeneous and consistent). Thus, behavior gives birth to a set of institutional rules. Secondly, in what ways do institutions shape behavior? In this perspective, behavior comes up from a certain set of institutional rules. In this model, institutions determine the rules.
Lessons from the institutions that were known before the commencement of the class:Institutions have a social function and permanence, transcending the lives of individuals and their intentions, and implement rules that preside over cooperative human behavior. Institutions are challengeable. Indeed, as Thelen and Steinmo postulated, the explanation as to why changes to institutions are often so ferociously opposed is that they can be modified (42). The problem to explain, therefore, is the process of change. Change is because of coming into conflict of different institutions. Changes in one institution have a propensity to result to changes in other institutions. Typically, the changes occur at varying speeds. North (102) noted that while changes to formal institutionalized rules (e.g. a law) could take place swiftly, informal rules (such as deep-seated beliefs) are much slower to amend.
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Institutions are seen as both embodied and relational. They are relational in that they fit together as institutional orders, models of interaction through time within geographically and temporally restricted fields conceived merely as the spaces organized by the same orders. Simultaneously, institutions are embodied as institutional archetypes since a sufficient likeness occurs across some range of particular natures and beliefs among agents to predispose behavior in regular ways, generating probabilistic regularity amid interacting agents over time.
The extent I have learnt to better understand social relations:
Social Relations are the interactions linking people with their social world. People are involved in and shaped by several relationships, events, and influences. The functions of various institutions, I have learned, determine the Social relations. The understanding I have achieved of social institutions has helped me to appreciate that institutions like the factory, the school, and the hospital have become central features to nearly the entire environments of human existence. A social institution is a structured sphere of social life, or societal subsystem intended to meet human requirements. Social relations result from continuous requirements on persons by institutions for the former to adjust to and abide by with their internal procedures in the name, for example, of effectiveness and better service.
Through what I have learned, I have come to appreciate truthfulness of the old adage that most often than not “it is who you know and not what you know.” This cliché summarizes the conventional wisdom pertaining to social institution. Often, persons are not aware of the fact; however, during hard times, the institution of friendship and family provide the ultimate “safety net.” I have achieved the knowledge to realize that most of our cheerful and most satisfying times have been used conversing with neighbors, having meals with friends, taking part in religious meetings, and helping out on community projects. All this has given me an insight on social relations and their importance. On the contrary, poor social relation has an equally significant impact. Employees, for example, are afraid of being “left out of the loop” on central decisions. Ambitious experts know that getting ahead in a new venture calls for a dynamic dedication to creating the social relations they presently lack (networking). A defining aspect of a poor person is that the person is not a member of or is actively barred from, certain institutions hence lacking social networks that could be used to get good employment and respectable housing (Wilson 84). For example, it would be very hard for an individual to secure a decent job if he or she has never been a member of an education institution.
Institutions play a big role in understanding social relations. In religious meetings and assembly places, for example, believers share the identical faith and congregate in at a fixed place to profess their belief. During and after ceremonies people socialize and interact with each other, in full knowledge that their faith has brought them as one to exercise their shared beliefs. Schools also are a good example of a social institution. In a school, the students work for a common goal of learning to attain academic qualification. The Media, on the other hand, is a social institution in the sense that it provides many ways for people to relate whichever way interests them. For example, when you choose the television programs you watch, you possibly will talk about the episode with a friend you know who watches it as well. The places one shops or what people buy are also other media-influenced activities that bring people together who have a common interest. This shows that institutions determine social relations of the members and understanding them, therefore, helps in understanding relations.
I have learnt and which I can use to understand social relations is that social relations are determined by statuses. These statuses are either being attributed to or achieved from social institutions. An attributed status is one that is assigned to an individual on grounds of factors, which the individual has no control over. We are, for instance, not in control over race, sex, or the ethnic background, in which we are born. We are assigned statuses of a child, a teenager, an adult, or a senior citizen on the grounds of age- something we do not decide or control. An achieved status, on the other hand, is assigned based on factors that are determined by the individual to some extent. Whether you achieve the status of a spouse, parent, senator, or prisoner largely is dependent on your effort. Every individual has numerous statuses at the same time. The master status is taken as the most significant in a person social identity, usually, the occupational status. Many roles, set of rights, obligations and expectations are associated with every status. Roles on their part guide our behavior and allow us to foretell others behaviors. Roles determine how we relate socially with other people.
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