What do you mean by Institution ?


Institutions are usually defined as certain enduring and accepted forms of procedure governing the relations between individuals and groups. Every organisation depends upon certain recongnised and established set of rules, traditions and usages. These usages and rules are the institutions. They are the forms of procedures which are accepted and recognised by society and govern the relations between individuals and groups.

People form an association to satisfy their needs. But these needs are also satisfied through institutions. So every association has its own institutions. Without these, no association can regulate the members. For example, family in association has its own institutions like marriage, the system of property and inheritance. A state as an association has its own institutions like government, legislative procedure, constitutions etc.

Similarly, church is a religious association, but worship and the administration of the sacraments are its institutions, According to Lowie, sociologically the most important institutions are marriage, kinship, law, property, religion and education. In short, associations denote membership, institutions are modes and ways. We are born in a group and live in it, but we act through institutions.


Institutions are the characteristic agencies of any permanent human associations they are the wheels on which human society marches on, the machinery through which human society carries on its activities.


Maclver and Page:

“Institutions are the established forms or conditions of procedure characteristic of group activity”.


Woodward and Maxwell:

“An institution is a set or web of interrelated folkways, mores and laws which enter in some function or functions”.

A. W. Green:

“An institution is the organisation of several folkways and mores into a unit which serves a number of social functions”.



“A social institution is a structure of society that is organised to meet the needs of people chiefly through well established procedures”.

Kimball Young:

“An association is a set of folkways and mores integrated round a principal function of the society”.


E. A. Ross:

“Institutions are sets of organised relationships established or sanctioned by common


Horton and Hunt:


“An institution is an orgnised system of relationships which embodies certain common rules and procedures and meets certain basic needs of the society”.


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