Society's Major Institutions.
There are five basic institutional areas of a society. The major institutions consist of family, education, economics, religion, and political sectors. These will essentially affect everyone's life by shaping their thoughts and behaviors. Each of these institutions serves its purpose to fulfill society's fundamental needs and specific goals for the overall society. All must coincide or work harmoniously to make a society.
The institution of family is the most important and is based on the teachings of values, norms, statuses, and roles. The family is designed to guide sexual activity, socialization, and social relations within a sexual union (Sociology of the Family). Every family is run differently under different circumstances and beliefs. In America, there are many different types of kinships and many different ways each of these kinships are run. The family of procreation consists of parents residing with their biological children. There is also the family of orientation which is the family in which a person is born and raised in and the family of affiliation. Often times and for many different reasons a person may be a part of the family of affiliation. For some reason the person's biological parents and intermediate kinship is unavailable or unable to care for a child and therefore the child goes to live with another caregiver whom is greatly respected by the kinship. The family of affiliation is more common amongst the poor in America. It is used to benefit many different people of the same kinship. Those members less fortunate are able to live amongst the most fortunate of the family while both kinships are able to compile their resources to benefit each other.
While the nuclear family is the "normal" based on American standards it only makes up about a fourth of the families in America today. The numbers of nuclear families in America has been on a continuous decline since the 1970's while single households tend to be on the rise. According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census the average family size has declined from 3.4 in 1975 to 3.2 in 2000. Furthermore, the average household size has declined as well; from 2.9 in 1975 to 2.6 in 2000. These statistics suggest that today American's may not be as likely to support as large of a family as American's in the earlier 1900's (United States Bureau of Census).
In the 1950's and early 1960's the families were portrayed to be the "Leave it to Beaver" type. This was supposed to be the traditional nuclear American family. The father was portrayed as the head of the household, and the breadwinner. The mother's role in the family was to take care of the household and children. Families of this generation and previous generations were able to survive and live comfortably for the time with only one working parent. In the 1990's mainstream America has become increasingly dependant on two incomes per household. Also, people in this day and age people seek independence and may not be as close to their families as the family members of the 1950's and 1960's were portrayed to be. Today's television shows consist of non-married parents, more cohabitation, and even same sex parents.
On the most general plane, "religion as a social institution serves to give meaning to man's existential predicaments by tying the individual to that supra-individual sphere of transcendent values which is ultimately rooted in his society" (Caser). As defined in the book religion is "a belief and ritual concerned with supernatural beings, powers, and forces." People all over the globe base their behaviors and views on religion. Some people think it is the pathway to heaven, while some frown at the idea of religion being a dominate factor to determine one's destiny in their afterlife.
Unfortunately, not all religious groups are good at heart. Some try to force their beliefs and ideology on people for good and bad purposes. For the most part, people of all...
Cited: Durkheim - The Work - Sociology of Religion. Caser . 1977.
Eshleman, J. Ross. Sociology of the Family. The Family, Ninth Edition. Allyn & Bacon: Needham Heights, 2002.
Tischler, Henry L. Introduction to Sociology, 8th Edition. Forth Worth, Texas.: The Harcourt Press, 2002.
United States Bureau of Census. Future Household Population Projections. 02 Aug. 2002.
United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Survey of Current Business. (Washington, D.C.: US Department of Commerce). Oct. 2004.
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