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What Are Institutions
Institution - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Characteristics of an institution

The role of institutions in society
The role of institutions in the community

What are the characteristics associated with being instituionalized & does the institution have any relevance?

I think institutions operate within guidelines and from those guidlines people act in a certain manner. Its like customer service. People expect a certain level of treatment and rights to be respected especially when money is involved and to attract the consumers they need to hit targets and they have ways of doing that.

If disipline is needed in prison and compassion is needed as a nurse you can see how people will act differently.
All institutions operate within guidelines which also act like a belief system to get what they want from life and to keep the 'majority' of people happy.

The characteristics in (people) i think are:
Linear thinking, lack of emotion, not always open to new methods of doing things, convincing you their way is best and that you need to trust their methods.

hope that helped!


Institutions are a part of the social construction of a community, and define the way we interact with each other within society. They are determined by the cultures and values of that society, and provide order and stability within society (see Characteristics of an institution).

"Institutions are structures and mechanisms of social order and cooperation governing the behaviour of a set of individuals. Institutions are identified with a social purpose and permanence, transcending individual human lives and intentions, and with the making and enforcing of rules governing cooperative human behaviour. The term, institution, is commonly applied to customs and behaviour patterns important to a society, as well as to particular formal organizations of government and public service. As structures and mechanisms of social order among humans, institutions are one of the principal objects of study in the social sciences, including sociology, political science and economics. Institutions are a central concern for law, the formal regime for political rule-making and enforcement. The creation and evolution of institutions is a primary topic for history." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Institutions)

Pasquale De Muro and Pasquale Tridico (The role of institutions for human development 2008.P5) argue that institutions are necessary in any human endeavour towards social and economic prosperity.
"... Human development is defined as a process enlarging people’s choices, achieved by expanding human capabilities and functionings (UNDP, 1990). Human development is strongly linked with institutions, first of all because in order to expand human capabilities institutions are needed. Moreover, institutions need to be rightly oriented, providing opportunities to poor and to people in general. Values and social norms such as equality, solidarity and co-operation shape formal institutions and choices. In turn, capabilities are enlarged by institutions (Sen, 1985)." (The role of institutions for human development 2008.P5)

“Douglass North (1990, p.3) offers the following definition: “Institutions are the rules of the game in a society or, more formally, are the humanly devised constraints that shape human interaction.”” (in http://www.growthcommission.org/storage/cgdev/documents/gc-wp-010_web.pdf, p.2)

Each community has its particular institutions that bond the members of the community. They serve as a foundation for the formal/informal cultures, values, expectations, objectives, hierarchies, goals, policies, constitutions, unwritten laws or codes of behaviour etc ("social construction"). Whether the community is a family, a school, sporting or social group, a cultural or religious group, a community home, hostel or nursing home they all need a structure that defines the group.

An institution could be describes as:
... any club, facility, organisation or activity that:
... has more than one member that actively participates in the club, facility, organisation or activity
... is organised within a defined set of formal and informal beliefs, values, roles, expectations and behaviours
... may be highly structured within these formal/informal beliefs, values, roles, expectations and behaviours
... shares a set of objectives
(What Are Institutions)

An institution therefore refers to:
... the setting of the activity: the design, location and anything that is removed from or added to, that may influence, aid or protect the members,
... the structure of the activity: the various restrictions that are added to, or removed from the activity, or the way the activity is organised,
... the formal/informal behaviours and attitudes of the members: the various policies, rules, roles, hierarchies of the members.

With regard to people with intellectual disabilities, the aged etc., the terms institution and institutionalisation has been used to describe:
... A small staff/client ratio
... the building: separate from the community, large, crowed dormitories etc., originally a Psychiatric hospital or an Asylum
... the model of care: usually medical model that is highly structured etc.,
... the structure of activities: group activities, must conform etc.,
... the policies, values, expectations and behaviours of the administration and staff towards the residents.
(The Origin and Nature of Our Institutional Models) (Goffman's concept of total institutions)

The problem is not the institution, but the way in which it is used.
Think of any good examples of institutionalised care: living, education, health, recreation etc.
Think of any bad examples of institutionalised care: living, education, health, recreation etc.
(Wikipedia: Deinstitutionalisation)

It can then be seen that the institution (the building) and the institution (the "social construction") are three different things.
The building : large, lots of people, separate areas etc.
The "social construction" : the roles, values, behaviours and expectations of its members
The outcomes : of 1) the building, and, 2) it's "social construction"

At a bank, for example, we open an account and get an account number. We become a part of that system (institutionalised). The account number is our identity, and we are treated as a number rather than a person. The bank is only interested in our financial affairs and other parts of our lives become less important. The bank has a certain amount of control in our financial affairs, and we become dependent on the bank in other areas of our lives.

Banks also have valued roles in society.
They provide the mechanisms that facilitate commercial investment and economic development. While some groups may see banks as evil, predatory and self serving, they have a responsibility to their members (shareholders, employees and customers) as well as the wider business community.

The bank ...
... provides a service to the wider community
... provides for it's own needs
... provides for the needs of it's members
... has to operate within government policy and practice in fulfilling its role in society.

This happens in all parts of society. We have an employment number, a tax number, a drivers license number, a social security number, a passport number etc. that all designed to group people into classifications and categories that allow a business or service to function. The terms "Institutionalisation" and "deinstitutionalisation" are used to describe the situation that people with high support needs live in, and the process of enabling these people to live more normal lives in the community.

Institutionalisation could be described as a loss of identity within the system.
This can happen anywhere, where a person becomes a part of an organisation, group or "the system" that treats the members as a single unit rather than individuals. This can happen to a greater or lesser extent according to the institutions of the organisation, group or "the system".

Deinstitutionalisation could be described as a gaining of identity within the system.
The institutions of the organisation, group or "the system" change to accommodate differences and individual needs of the members of the organisation, group or "the system". By changing the setting, roles, values, behaviours, expectations of the members where they have the opportunity to participate in normal activities that others take for granted.

When providing the most appropriate care for people with high support needs ...
1) The community is not where the person is living, but where the person participates, shares experiences and has valued relationships with others.
2) People with high support needs (severe disability, aged etc.) will always need support structures as a part of their lives.
3) The amount of participation in a community (living, education, employment or recreation) is directly related to the skills and resources of the person, and, the skills and resources of the community that the person wishes to participate in.
4) Institutions are going to be around in one form or another whether we like it or not, It is the way that they are used that is the problem.
5) The institutions of a society towards a particular group determine the way the group participates in society.
6) The institutions of a particular government department, organisation, profession or service define the way the person is supported within that society.
7) Facilities that support people with high support needs do not need to be the nursing homes or prisons in the sense that they are today, but can become warm inviting community places that offer a range of services to the community, as well as be a part of the wider community within that society.
8) People with high support needs are a minority group in our society, and will have the same problems as other minority groups in being a part of society.

Peter Anderson