Institutions and Associations
Institutions do not have members they have followers. This is a subtle but important distinction. Let us illustrate: A reugion is not a group of people: a religion is a system of ideas, beliefs, practices, and relationships. A church is an association of people who accept the beliefs and follow the practices of a particular religion. Unless there are believers to follow it, a religion dies. The religion is not the people; it is a system of beliefs and practices. . Most students have no difficulty distinguishing the game of football from the football team. The game is a.set of rules and practices together with supporting values and sentiments. The game cannot be played without players, but the players are not the game they are the association of persons who play the game. This, then, is the distinction between institution and association. Our banking institutions are our standardized ways of handling certain financial transactions; bankers are people who conduct those transactions; a bank is an organized group of bankers (together with clerks, typists, tellers, etc. The student need only remember that the institutional always the organized system of ideas and behavior the association is the organized group of people bluegills ill the behavior.
Five important basic institutions in complex societies are the familial, religious, governmental, economic, and educational institutions. In modern societies the values and procedures of science are so important and so highly standardized that we add "scientific institutions" to the list. The activities involved in social work or medical care have become so definitely patterned that we also might speak of either of these'systems of behavior as institutions. In referring to the Middle, Ages one could speak of chivalry and knighthood as aspects of the institution of feudalism.