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Institutions A Fundamental Framework Essay

879 words - 4 pages

Institutions can be defined as structures that standardize patterns of rule based behaviors in society, when serving the community effectively and functioning normally, they can become almost invisible. It become possible for institutions to disappear because they organize nearly every level of society can can appear to be intrinsic attributes of human culture instead of social constructions. Institutions such as marriage, religion, education and government provide the framework in which we think about our role in society and what kind of behavior is expected from us at each point in our lives.

Because institutions can effectively disappear from our worldview it becomes easy to forget ...view middle of the document...

Within certain institutions it can be possible to become so comfortable that it can be very difficult to see anything outside of the context that certain institutions provide. The Rosenhan Experiment is an excellent example of how institutions contextualize not only behavior but also the way in which we interpret the world. Rosenhan sent pseudo-patients with no psychiatric illness to a psychiatric hospital and after admittance instructed the patients to act completely normal. Although the pseudo-patients were normal and acted normally, their actions were interpreted by staff to indicate mental-illness. For example one pseudo-patient, who was recording his stay for the experiment, was considered pathological for his constant note taking. The staff, including the psychiatrists could not see the actions of their patients outside of the framework provided by the institution of psychiatric care and consequently misinterpreted normal behavior.

The ways in which institutions enforce, regulate or simply encourage behavior can take many different forms and operate at several levels. Naomi Braine defines these level in which institutions operate as the micro, meso and macro. All three of these levels work in concert to shape behavior and contextualize our actions. For example In “How the State Shaped What You Eat,” Justin Meyers thoughtfully dissects the relationship between government, education and agriculture and how these three institutions shape the food school children eat. The most interesting aspect of Meyers’ writing is how the structure of institutions at the macro level have such profound implications for shaping individual behavior at a micro level. For example government subsidies for certain...

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