Family is NOT an institution

distinguishing institutions from organisations in social science and social theory

Peter Rogers*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This paper addresses the use, and potential misuse, of the ‘institution’ as a key concept in sociology. The concept of the ‘institution’ is interrogated using ‘family’ as an example and new institutional economics (NIE) as a crucible. The sociological understanding of family as an ‘institution’ is challenged by the distinction between ‘institutions’ and ‘organisations’ in NIE. The blurring of generic non-sociological terms with critical sociological concepts causes confusion between institutions and organisations. This is highly problematic for understanding social change in increasingly complex systems. I conclude that the contextual embedding of sociological concepts remains important to the appropriate use of the term ‘institution’ in the social sciences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)126-141
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Review of Sociology
Volume27
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2017

Keywords

  • complex interplay theory
  • institution
  • new institutionalism
  • organisation
  • political economy
  • social theory

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