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INTRODUCTION TO SOCIOLOGY

FACILITATING INSTRUCTOR GUIDE

40

An institution seems the only sensible way for us to do something:

“Of course we do not have kings.”

“Of course our parents do not decide whom we marry.”

“Of course we must give grades in college.”

“Of course we have checking accounts and credit cards.”

While institutions can undergo social change—they are usually resistant to rapid change. Institutions often socialize us with an ideal—even if the ideal is often not fulfilled for life. Marriage is a prime example of this type of social institution. The institution of marriage has been undergoing major change within the past 40 years in the United States. However, the expectations of marriage are very much entrenched in our social thoughts.

People do not have to get married—but in our society, that has been the accepted, legitimate, right, moral, even healthy way people are supposed to live. Even today, it is a widely followed institution; it is a central tradition, and alternatives are still considered less than desirable by most people.

Cultural ideas embedded in religion have taught us that marriage is moral (indeed, a moral obligation in some religions), that it will bring happiness and meaning to our lives, and that it is the only way to have sex.

Governments encourage marriage through tax laws that favor the marriage—especially with children.

In the not-so distant past, men were expected to marry if they were to rise through up the corporate ladder of success.

Institutions Are Important

Institutions deal with problems that make it possible for people to live together in society.

Institutions, because they are grooves we see operating all around us, ensure enough uniformity in action among individuals so that cooperation is made possible.

Many of the institutions are designed specifically to socialize, reward, and punish the individual to help ensure conformity to the social patterns of society.

Copyright © 2005 Mount Vernon Nazarene University Adult and Graduate Studies

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