week 13:social institution,forms nature and inter relationship

 culture describes a group’s shared norms (or acceptable behaviors) and values, whereas society describes a group of people who live in a defined geographical area, and who interact with one another and share a common culture. For example, the United States is a society that encompasses many cultures. Social institutions are mechanisms or patterns of social order focused on meeting social needs, such as government, economy, education, family, healthcare, and religion. Some sociological methods focus on examining social institutions over time, or compare them to social institutions in other parts of the world. In the United States, for example, there is a system of free public education but no universal healthcare program, which is not the case in many other affluent, democratic countries. Throughout the rest of this course, we will devote much of our attention to studying these specific social institutions.

What behavioral rules are in effect when you encounter an acquaintance at school, work, or in the grocery store? Generally, we do not step back to consider all of the intricacies of such normative rules. We may simply say “Hello!” and ask, “How was your weekend?” or offer some other trivial question meant to be a friendly greeting. Rarely do we physically embrace or even touch the individual, and this is often because in our culture we see this as the norm, or the standard of acceptable social behavior. Only when confronted with a different norm do we begin to see cultural differences or even understand that this everyday behavior is part of a larger socialization process. In other cultures, not kissing and/or hugging could be viewed as rude, but in the United States, we have fairly rigid rules about personal space.