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Encyclopedia > Institution

Institutions are structures and mechanisms of social order and cooperation governing the behavior of a set of individuals. Institutions are identified with a social purpose and permanence, transcending individual human lives and intentions, and with the making and enforcing of rules governing cooperative human behavior. The term, institution, is commonly applied to customs and behavior patterns important to a society, as well as to particular formal organizations of government and public service. As structures and mechanisms of social order among humans, institutions are one of the principal objects of study in the social sciences, including sociology, political science and economics. Institutions are a central concern for law, the formal regime for political rule-making and enforcement. The creation and evolution of institutions is a primary topic for history. For other uses, see Organization (disambiguation). ... The notion of institution has been created by Joseph Goguen and Rod Burstall in the early 1980s in order to deal with the population explosion among the logical systems used in computer science. The notion tries to capture the essence of what a logical system is. ... See Social structure of the United States for an explanation of concepts exsistance within US society. ... In economics a mechanism is a set of rules designed to bring about a certain outcome through the interaction of a number of agents each of whom maximizes his or her own utility. ... Social order is a concept used in sociology, history and other social sciences. ... This article is about cooperation as used in the social sciences. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... In mathematics, a set can be thought of as any collection of distinct objects considered as a whole. ... As commonly used, individual refers to a person or to any specific object in a collection. ... This scheme of statutory construction declares that a statute should not be construed in a way that would violate normal societal values or good. ... This article is about modern humans. ... Young people interacting within an ethnically diverse society. ... Public services is a term usually used to mean services provided by government to its citizens, either directly (through the public sector) or by financing private provision of services. ... The social sciences are a group of academic disciplines that study human aspects of the world. ... Sociology (from Latin: socius, companion; and the suffix -ology, the study of, from Greek λόγος, lógos, knowledge [1]) is the scientific or systematic study of society, including patterns of social relationships, social interaction, and culture[2]. Areas studied in sociology can range from the analysis of brief contacts between anonymous... The Politics series Politics Portal This box:      Political Science is the field concerning the theory and practice of politics and the description and analysis of political systems and political behaviour. ... Face-to-face trading interactions on the New York Stock Exchange trading floor. ... For other uses, see Law (disambiguation). ... HIStory – Past, Present and Future, Book I is a double album by American singer Michael Jackson released in June 1995 and remains Jacksons most conflicting and controversial release. ...


Aspects of Institutions

Although unindividual, formal organizations, commonly identified as "institutions," may be deliberately and intentionally created by people, the development and functioning of institutions in society in general may be regarded as an instance of emergence; that is, institutions arise, develop and function in a pattern of social self-organization, which goes beyond the conscious intentions of the individual humans involved. A termite cathedral mound produced by a termite colony: a classic example of emergence in nature. ...

As mechanisms of social cooperation, institutions are manifest in both objectively real, formal organizations, such as the U.S. Congress, or the Roman Catholic Church, and, also, in informal social order and organization, reflecting human psychology, culture, habits and customs. Most important institutions, considered abstractly, have both objective and subjective aspects: examples include money and marriage. The institution of money encompasses many formal organizations, including banks and government treasury departments and stock exchanges, which may be termed, "institutions," as well as subjective experiences, which guide people in their pursuit of personal well-being. Powerful institutions are able to imbue a paper currency with certain value, and to induce millions into cooperative production and trade in pursuit of economic ends abstractly denominated in that currency's units. The subjective experience of money is so pervasive and persuasive that economists talk of the "money illusion" and try to disabuse their students of it, in preparation for learning economic analysis. Congress in Joint Session. ... Catholic Church redirects here. ... For other uses, see Money (disambiguation). ... Matrimony redirects here. ... Money illusion refers to the tendency of people to think of currency in nominal, rather than real, terms. ...

Marriage and family, as a set of institutions, also encompass formal and informal, objective and subjective aspects. Both governments and religious institutions make and enforce rules and laws regarding marriage and family, create and regulate various concepts of how people relate to one another, and what their rights, obligations and duties may be as a consequence. Culture and custom permeate marriage and family. In the United States and western Europe, a transition from a conception of marriage, as license for sexual intercourse granted by Church and State, to a conception of marriage as a form of contract, freely entered into, has occasioned momentous social and political controversies regarding laws and customs governing the freedom of women, divorce, cohabitation outside marriage, contraception, and homosexuality. Matrimony redirects here. ... For other uses, see Family (disambiguation). ...

Examples of recently emerging institutions may include many Web 2.0 socially based internet activities, such as open source software or free software, and wikipedia itself. A Tag cloud (constructed by Markus Angermeier) [1] presenting some of the themes of Web 2. ... ... Free software is software that can be used, studied, and modified without restriction, and which can be copied and redistributed in modified or unmodified form either without restriction, or with minimal restrictions only to ensure that further recipients can also do these things. ... Wikipedia (IPA: , or ( ) is a multilingual, web-based, free content encyclopedia project, operated by the Wikimedia Foundation, a non-profit organization. ...

Gilles Deleuze compared emergent institutions with legal codes, such that, Gilles Deleuze (IPA: ), (January 18, 1925 – November 4, 1995) was a French philosopher of the late 20th century. ...

...tyranny is a regime in which there are many laws and few institutions; democracy is a regime in which there are many institutions, and few laws. Oppression becomes apparent when laws bear directly on people, and not on the prior institutions that protect them.[1]

Perspectives of the Social Sciences

While institutions tend to appear to people in society as part of the natural, unchanging landscape of their lives, study of institutions by the social sciences tends to reveal the nature of institutions as social constructions, artifacts of a particular time, culture and society, produced by collective human choice, though not directly by individual intention. A social construction, social construct or social concept is an institutionalized entity or artifact in a social system invented or constructed by participants in a particular culture or society that exists because people agree to behave as if it exists, or agree to follow certain conventional rules, or behave as... A cultural artifact is a human-made object which gives information about the culture of its creator and users. ...

The relationship of institutions to human nature is a foundational question for the social sciences. Institutions can be seen as "naturally" arising from, and conforming to, human nature -- a fundamentally conservative view -- or institutions can be seen as artificial, almost accidental, and in need of architectural redesign, informed by expert social analysis, to better serve human needs -- a fundamentally progressive view. Adam Smith anchored his economics in the supposed human "propensity to truck, barter and exchange". Modern feminists have criticized traditional marriage and other institutions as elements of an oppressive and obsolete patriarchy. The Marxist view which sees human nature as historically 'evolving' towards voluntary social cooperation, shared by some anarchists, is that supraindividual institutions such as the market and the state are incompatible with the individual liberty which would obtain in a truly free society. For other persons named Adam Smith, see Adam Smith (disambiguation). ... Feminists redirects here. ... English family c. ... Dialectical materialism is the philosophical basis of Marxism as defined by later Communists and their Parties (sometimes called orthodox Marxism). ... Anarchist redirects here. ...

Economics, in recent years, has used game theory to study institutions from two perspectives. Firstly, how do institutions survive and evolve? In this perspective, institutions arise from Nash equilibria of games. For example, whenever people pass each other in a corridor or thoroughfare, there is a need for customs, which avoid collisions. Such a custom might call for each party to keep to their own right (or left -- such a choice is arbitrary, it is only necessary that the choice be uniform and consistent). Such customs may be supposed to be the origin of rules, such as the rule, adopted in many countries, which requires driving automobiles on the right side of the road. For other uses, see Game theory (disambiguation) and Game (disambiguation). ... In game theory, the Nash equilibrium (named after John Forbes Nash, who proposed it) is a kind of solution concept of a game involving two or more players, where no player has anything to gain by changing only his or her own strategy unilaterally. ...

Secondly, how do institutions affect behaviour? In this perspective, the focus is on behaviour arising from a given set of institutional rules. In these models, institutions determine the rules (i.e. strategy sets and utility functions) of games, rather than arise as equilibria out of games. For example, the Cournot duopoly model is based on an institution involving an auctioneer who sells all goods at the market-clearing price. While it is always possible to analyse behaviour with the institutions-as-equilibria approach instead, it is much more complicated. Cournot competition is an economics model used to describe industry structure. ...

In political science, the effect of institutions on behavior has also been considered from a meme perspective, like game theory borrowed from biology. A "memetic institutionalism" has been proposed, suggesting that institutions provide selection environments for political action, whereby differentiated retention arises and thereby a Darwinian evolution of institutions over time. The Politics series Politics Portal This box:      Political Science is the field concerning the theory and practice of politics and the description and analysis of political systems and political behaviour. ... -1... Memetic institutionalism is a term created by Mikael Sandberg in (with Martin Ã…berg, Ashgate 2003). ...

Public choice theory, another branch of economics with a close relationship to political science, considers how government policy choices are made, and seeks to determine what the policy outcomes are likely to be, given a particular political decision-making process and context. Public choice theory is a branch of economics that studies the decision-making behavior of voters, politicians and government officials from the perspective of economic theory, namely game theory and decision theory. ...

Sociology traditionally analyzed social institutions in terms of interlocking social roles and expectations. Social institutions created and were composed of groups of roles, or expected behaviors. The social function of the institution was executed by the fulfillment of roles. Basic biological requirements, for reproduction and care of the young, are served by the institutions of marriage and family, for example, by creating, elaborating and prescribing the behaviors expected for husband/father, wife/mother, child, etc. This article is about the sociology term. ...

In history, a distinction between eras or periods, implies a major and fundamental change in the system of institutions governing a society. Political and military events are judged to be of historical significance to the extent that they are associated with changes in institutions. In European history, particular significance is attached to the long transition from the feudal institutions of the Middle Ages to the modern institutions, which govern contemporary life. Roland pledges his fealty to Charlemagne; from a manuscript of a chanson de geste Feudalism, a term first used in the late modern period (17th century), in its most classic sense refers to a Medieval European political system comprised of a set of reciprocal legal and military obligations among the... The Middle Ages formed the middle period in a traditional schematic division of European history into three ages: the classical civilization of Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and modern times, beginning with the Renaissance. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ...


  1. ^ Gilles Deleuze, Instincts and Institutions in Desert Islands and Other Texts 1953-1974, Edited by David Lapoujade, Translated by Michael Taormina, Semiotext(e), 2004, ISBN 1584350180, page 19.

Gilles Deleuze (IPA: ), (January 18, 1925 – November 4, 1995) was a French philosopher of the late 20th century. ...


  • Berger, P. L. and T. Luckmann (1966), The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge, Anchor Books, Garden City, NY.
  • Chang, Ha-Joon (ed.) (2007), Institutional Change and Economic Development, Anthem Press.
  • Greif, Avner (2006), Institutions and the Path to the Modern Economy: Lessons from Medieval Trade, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 9780521671347
  • North, D. C. (1990), Institutions, Institutional Change and Economic Performance. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  • Schotter, A. (1981), The Economic Theory of Social Institutions. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

See also

Look up institution in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... Wiktionary (a portmanteau of wiki and dictionary) is a multilingual, Web-based project to create a free content dictionary, available in over 151 languages. ... Actor Analysis can be seen as an approach to managing environmental issues. ... For other uses, see Nation (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Country (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see State (disambiguation). ... The term institutionalization is widely used in social theory to denote the process of making something (for example a concept, a social role, particular values and norms, or modes of behaviour) become embedded within an organization, social system, or society as an established custom or norm within that system. ... A General Staff is a group of professional military officers who act in a staff or administrative role under the command of a general officer. ... Historical institutionalism (HI) is a social science method of inquiry that uses institutions as subject of study in order to find, measure and trace patterns and sequences of social, political, economic behavior and change accross time and space. ... An institute is a permanent organizational body created for a certain purpose. ... Institutional economics focuses on understanding the role of human-made institutions in shaping economic behavior. ... A social construction, social construct or social concept is an institutionalized entity or artifact in a social system invented or constructed by participants in a particular culture or society that exists because people agree to behave as if it exists, or agree to follow certain conventional rules, or behave as... A social institution is any institution in a socity that works to socialize the groups or people in it. ...

External links

  • International Society for New Institutional Economics
  • Institutional reform

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