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Social Institutions: How Do They Influence and Affect Individuals

The following post will discuss several major social institutions currently in the United States of America as well as how each institution influences and affect individuals. Some of the institutions I will be discussing are organized religious meeting places, school, and the media. In addition, the upcoming text will briefly define the term mass media as well as address how it can shape, twist, or influence reality and affect how people interact. I will also state how the media as far as socialization has personally affected me.

(Macionis, 1998, p. 439)  Some examples of the major social institutions that exist in the United States are organized religious meeting places such as churches, mosques, chapels, temples, etc… and also schools, as well as the media.  Of course, there are more than what is mentioned above such as the workplace, prison, government, as well as family and the list goes on.  Basically, any place or group that comes together with a common goal or need, that involves interacting and socializing within some sort of structure, as well as also  “providing a support system for individuals as they struggle to become members of a larger social network.”  (Silverblatt, 2004)

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Today in the United States as well as other countries, house many various social institutions.  A social institution is an organized sphere of social life, or societal subsystem designed to meet human needs.

Religious gatherings and meeting places for example followers, share the same faith and meet in at a prescribe location to profess or display their structure of belief.  After or even during ceremonies people interact and socialize with one another, knowing that their faith has pretty much brought them together to exercise their common beliefs and so forth.  Schools on the other hand is an example of a social institution where students share the common goal of learning more, and in the end gain a diploma, certification or degree, depending on the classes and level of education the students are enrolled in.  As far as the Media goes, it is a much broader spectrum, in which it involves many modes of message delivery such as television, internet, physical periodicals, radio, and so forth.  So how is media a social institution?  The Media is a social institution in the respect that it contributes numerous amounts of ways for people to interact according to their interest.  For example, the choice of which television programs you watch.  The next day or that night, you may discuss the episode with someone else you know who watches it as well, or even choose to post on a discussion board that is dedicated to the program.  Where you shop or what you buy are also other media-advertised activities that bring people together who share common interest.  People whom are categorized by their interest, and needs form markets.  

The internet in my experience has been more of an influence to me than the other modes of information technology.  Because I do not have television reception, satellite, radio reception, cell phone nor a subscription to a newspaper, and I literally live in the middle of nowhere in a town population of 96 people.  (I am originally from NYC, so trust me when I say this, “it’s killing me.”)  Therefore, I rely on the internet to supply information about the outside world as well as for purchasing items that I need and that the Wal-Mart 40 something miles away does not have.  At this point shipping and handling charges are cheaper than gas prices.  In addition, I do not have long distance either, so the internet provides me with a way to communicate with family and friends.  All I can say is if it were not for having internet access, I would be completely out of the loop, per se.


Macionis, J. J. (1998). Glossary. In N. Roberts (Ed.), Society: The Basics (Fourth ed., p. 439). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Silverblatt, A. (2004). Media as Social Institution. AMERICAN BEHAVIORAL SCIENTIST, 48(1), 35-41. Retrieved June 9, 2009, from

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User Comments
  1. Mr Ghaz

    On June 13, 2009 at 7:23 am

    Excellent!!..this is very interesting piece and well presented too..I liked it..Thanx for sharing this great work.

  2. jhovil

    On July 7, 2009 at 8:24 am

    great job………………..

  3. seiboi

    On July 21, 2009 at 3:02 am

    It is great…

  4. RS Wing

    On July 25, 2009 at 5:29 am

    Great social commentary. I formative and accurate. I’m 1 hour north of NYC, no disrespect for wherever hicksville town you are in, but being a new yorker I really feel for you. It’s like a culture shock when most come to NYC, well it’s one for us as well. I’ve been there. Great post on a sad reality.

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