Social institutions are a type of age old social mechanism of relations, norms, and customs, which act as an effective determinants of conformity, cohesion along sustainability of any social system. So, proper understanding of roles and functions of such intervowen, interdependent, and evolutionary social entites, becomes indispensable or inevitable to facilitate healthy functioning of entire superstructure. Then, let’s begin to explore the role and functions of social institutions in the world we live..
Meaning and Definition of Social Institutions
“It is the set of interwoven, mutually accepted and externally coercive set of consensus rules, norms, beliefs or values that are designed to ensure proper conformity and cohesion among relations . These are also credited for socialization, and development of young siblings in the process of growth of social system. In short, these are laboratories of socializing social animals to realize certain goals.
Families, religions, marriage, and education are some of the examples of present day institutions. As I mentioned earlier, these are evolutionary in nature. It means, these institutions have great assimilating capability. Simply, changes can be internalized to increase adaptability of stystem.
Major social institutions
Ever since the primitive culture, it is widely recognized as the building block of societial growth and sustainance through procreation, socialization, and cooperation. Sociologists also call it as a primary socializing agency. Understandably, the role and functions of families have been witnessed huge changes due to advent of modern ethos.
We know that the joint families were predominant in the ancient and medieval times. Whereas, modern age is characterized by the more nuclear in nature.
If we think about the spatial dimension, then we can easily point out the difference between tribal, agricultural and industrial societies. In the tribal and agricultural societies, still joint families outnumber the nuclear. But, in the industrial centres, nuclear nature is common.
There are contradicting views on the religion as a social institution. Functiinsists call it a means to ensure conformity and solidarity among the communities of societies. On the other hand, non-functional approach treat it as a means to relieve anxiety of mind. Here, I don’t want to plunge into the never-ending debate to prove either of side.
For the layman’s understanding, religion is a system of beliefs mutually accepted and evolved over a period of time. At the centre of religion, it is a sacred thing, called God with set of rules for worshipping.
The rationale behind religious institution is to provide moral standards to ensure conformity. And, we know that without conformity, chaos will become inevitable. At the same time, it helps to shape the behaviour of individuals through beliefs system. Finally, it gives a sense of security in difficulty.
Nowadays, though its nature is changing, but the relevancy is still intact. Today’s religion cannot be confined within limits of boundaries. Right to religion is instrumental for the proliferation of this institution beyond continents.
It is the most impactful socializing agency. It also transforms the belief system, thought process, and belief system of an individual. For definition point of view, it is a deliberate process of equipping required desirable skills so that ways of living life could be changed as per the expectations.
In the modern societies, education is the powerful weapon to purify one’s attitude and behaviour provided that it is free from partiality and bias. All the enlightened individuals can interact and exchange ideas and thoughts.
These ideas helps in unifying people, creating a sense of cohesion. After all a well cultural individuals is the everlasting asset of society that makes civilization more worthful.
It is the cause of social stratification, division of labor and interdependence. As per the sociologists, its role is to satisfy the needs of society so that it could sustain longer period. We know that there is a healthy competition for available resources.
Hence, resources are instrumental in making stratification according to ability and merits. In this way, people remain interconnected for the purpose of cooperation, creating organic solidarity.
Like other institutions economic system too bring people together. Whether directly or indirectly economic system maintain solidarity, satisfying required needs.
It is the governing agency designed and imposed by people themselves. Its main function is to ensure law and order, security and welfare of citizens. By the means of rewards and punishment, it maintain order and solidarity in the societies.
These are the major role and functions of social institutions designed to ensure health and cohesiveness of social system by socializing younger members and assimilating newer values amidst the cycle of change.