No institution exists in a vacuum. Each is affected by the rest of the culture. Acts within each institution affect the others. Consider the case of the family. In most simple societies, the family (or possibly the clan, which is an extended family) is the only social institution. Work is organized by family units, children are trained by family members, control is exercised by the family, worship is generally by family groups. No other social structure may be needed in a simple society. With increasing cultural complexity, situations develop which are not easily handled by the family. Trade with other tribes eventually brings specialized traders, who conduct trade as individuals not as family representatives. Work skills become more specialized, with what economists call "division of labor." This means that many people are working all day as specialized individual workers not as part of a family work team. Eventually, the organization and supervision of much work. activity moves outside the family into shop or office with a foreman, rather than a family member, giving the orders.

Within the past century, the shift from farm to nonfarm work has reduced the father's authority, reduced family size as children became an expense rather than an asset, and encouraged away-from-home employment of women. The night shift forces millions of workers ,to change their family-life routines. The watch-and-help system of job training on the farm is replaced by formal educational institutions Thus changes in one institution force  in others. The urban family is a less satisfactory haven for the aged than the family farm used to be; the state responds with Social.

Security As workers drift from farm to factory and from gemeinschaft to gesellschaft relations, the church revises its language, its
'procedures, and, perhaps, i~s doctrines, in an effort to remain "relevant" to the needs of an urbanized, industrial society'. New scientific discoveries bring growth to some industries and decline to others, while prompting new regulations by government. In such a variety of ways, each institution interacts with other institutions and is- affected by them. Institutions often demand uncomfortable sacrifices from their followers. Many religions require painful hardships and self-denials; the military demands unquestioning obedience and separation from loved ones; corporate private enterprise demands that needless workers be fired and' that unprofitable businesses go bankrupt. Loser (1974) has applied the term, "greedy institutions" to those which impose restrictive demands upon one's other institutional activities.

In Marxist thought, this system of ownership and control of "the means of production" ultimately shapes all the cultural norms and values. The family takes the form that fits the mode of production. Intestate, police, laws, and courts all maintain the economic system' and protect the 'property rights of those who have property rights. The school (where there are schools) prepares people for their assigned slots .in the system-the poor and powerless. . to labor and the wealthy and powerful to control. The church Intones pray in praise of the whole business. Thus the economic institutions are the dominant institutions with all the others taking the form that harmonizes with the economic institutions. Non-Marxist scholars seethe economic institutions as less than all-powerful. For example, the German sociologist, Max Weber in The 'Protestant Ethic and The Spirit of Capitalism (1904) argues that the capitalist system flourished most when combined with the , values of Calvinist Protestantism. Where Marx argued that economic change emulated religious change, Weber argued that religious change stimulated economic change. Most scholars agree that in modern societies, the economic institutions may be more influential than any of the others. But it is also true .that other institutions influence economic institutions.

Posted on September 3, 2014 in Social and Institutions

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