Institution: Sociological Concepts: Definitions and Characteristics of Institution

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Sociological Concepts: Definitions and Characteristics of Institution (Sociology)


  • Durkheim said that sociology is the science of social institutions.
  • McIver and Page define institution as established forms or conditions of procedure characteristic of group activity.


  • Institutions are social in nature
  • A result of collective activities of the people
  • Product of repetitive form of social relationships
  • They prescribe how to do things
  • Established by humans
  • Preserve social order

Characteristics of Institution

  • Universality
  • Standardized Norms
  • Means Of Satisfying Needs
  • Relatively Permanent
  • Abstract In Nature
  • Oral And Written Traditions
  • Social In Nature
  • Interrelated or interlinked
  • Synthesizes Symbols e. g. National Anthem


Primary Institutions

Basic institutions found in primitive societies like religion family marriage etc. are primary in character

Secondary Institutions

  • when the society is grown in size and becomes complex
  • institutions become progressive and are evolved to cater the secondary needs of people
  • E. g. live-in relationships, education, law, etc.

Sumner classified institutions as:

Enacted Institutions

institution set up consciously and purposefully in a planned way are enacted

Crescive Institutions

  • Like primary institutions
  • institutions which evolved and developed naturally and unconsciously

What Are the Functions of Social Institutions?

  • They cater to the satisfaction of needs
  • They provide the ways and also the means to fulfil fundamental
  • They control human behaviour
  • Institutions regulate the system of social behaviour
  • They tell members of the society what is allowed and what is not
  • They simplify actions for the individual


1. Marriage is a

(a) Folkway

(b) More

(c) Social institution

(d) Social norm

Ans. (c)

2. Which of the following is an institution?

(a) Family

(b) Leadership

(c) Social Movements

(d) Environment

Ans. (a)

#Sociological Concepts

#Basic Concepts



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