An institution is any structure or mechanism of social order and cooperation governing the behavior of a set of individuals within a given community — may it be human or a specific animal one. Institutions are identified with a social purpose, transcending individuals and intentions by mediating the rules that govern cooperative living behavior.
The term "institution" is commonly applied to customs and behavior patterns important to a society, as well as to particular formal organizations of government and public services. As structures and mechanisms of social order among certain species, institutions are one of the principal objects of study in the social sciences, such as political science, anthropology, economics, and sociology (the latter being described by Durkheim as the "science of institutions, their genesis and their functioning"). Institutions are also a central concern for law, the formal mechanism for political rule-making and enforcement.
Famous quotes containing the word institution:
“What has ever threatened our liberty and prosperity save and except this institution of Slavery?”
—Abraham Lincoln (18091865)
“When God desires to destroy a thing, he entrusts its destruction to the thing itself. Every bad institution of this world ends by suicide.”
—Victor Hugo (18021885)
“The authority of any governing institution must stop at its citizens skin.”
—Gloria Steinem (b. 1934)