Social Institutions

Topics: Sociology, Socialization, Institution Pages: 3 (861 words) Published: March 19, 2014


The macrosociological perspective broadly examines society paying close attention to the dynamics of social structure. The social structure of a society is analyzed through the lens of different groups within society and the patterns among and between them. Therefore, this implies that our behaviour is shaped and guided by social structure. Social structure consists of many different elements but is impacted heavily by the effects of social institutions. These include things such as the family, education, the justice system, the mass media etc. which are all essential parts of an individual’s everyday life. Within these complex structures is the basis upon which society exists. A social institution “is an established and organized system of social behaviour with a recognized purpose” (Andersen and Taylor 2011).To thoroughly evaluate the nature of social institutions it is common to analyze two of the main perspectives; the functionalist and the conflict. The functionalists gave five functional requisites which these social institutions provide: Replacing members, socializing new members, producing and distributing goods and services, preserving order, and providing a sense of purpose (Henslin 2012a). Although agreeing that the original purpose of social institutions was to meet basic survival needs, their view differs generally from that of the functionalists. Conflict theory suggests that these social institutions are controlled by the powerful groups and are not used for the common good as is so often purported but to help them remain powerful through manipulation (Henslin 2012b). The family which has often been regarded as the cornerstone of society is one of the oldest social institutions. George P. Murdock defines the family as ‘a social group characterized by common residence, economic co-operation and reproduction’ (Mustapha 2007). Murdock believed the family performed four basic needs and categorized them as: sexual,...

Bibliography: Andersen, L Margaret, and F Howard Taylor. Sociology: The Essentials, The Sixth Edition. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning, 2011.
Haralambos, Michael, and Martin Holborn. Sociology: Themes and Perspectives, Seventh Edition. London: HarperCollins, 2008.
Henslin, James M. Sociology: A Down-to-Earth Approach. Boston MA: Allyn & Bacon, 2012.
Macionis, John. Sociology, Seventh Edition. New York: Prentice Hall, 2003.
Mustapha, Nasser. Sociology: For Caribbean Students. Kingston: Ian Randle Publishers, 2007.
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