SOCIOLOGY 2L03 MIDTERM STUDY SHEET pg. 49
1. What are Social Institutions?
An institution is any structure or mechanism of social order and cooperation governing the behavior of a
set of individuals within a given community
2. The Economy is an Institution.
The economy is the institution that provides for the production and distribution of goods and services,
which people in every society need.
3. The Government is an institution
A government is an institution entrusted with making and enforcing the rules of a society as well as
with regulating relations with other societies.
4. Mass Media is a Social Institution
Mass media have emerged as a social institution, assuming many of the functions formerly served by
traditional social institutions such as the church, school, government, and family. It can help with
Agency is the capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices.
Structure is the recurrent patterned arrangements which influence or limit the choices and opportunities
The structure versus agency debate may be understood as an issue of socialization against autonomy in
determining whether an individual acts as a free agent or in a manner dictated by social structure.
it is the capacity of a rational individual to make an informed, uncoerced decision.
8. The functionalist Perspective Definition: The functionalist perspective can be traced back to Emile Durkheim and Talcott Parsons
and has its roots in anthropology. This perspective focuses on social systems as a whole, how they operate,
how they change, and the social consequences they produce. In trying to explain an aspect of a social
system, functionalism asks several basic questions:
How is this aspect related to other aspects of the system?
What is its place in the overall operation of the social system?
What kinds of consequences result from this?
How do these consequences contribute or interfere with the operation of the cultural values and the
realization of the cultural values on which the system is based?
This perspective enables us to see how even the most undesirable aspects of social life, such as war,
racism, sexism, etc., are bound up with otherwise normal functioning of societies and their institutions.
These insights are especially crucial for those wanting to bring about change.
9. Talcott Parsons
Parsons claims that society is the way it is as social structures are interconnected and dependant on each
other. Functionalists therefore see change as evolutionary – change in one part of society will eventually
occur in another. Soc