- Date: 14th century
- 1 : an act of instituting : establishment
- 2 a : a significant practice, relationship, or organization in a society or culture <the institution of marriage>; also : something or someone firmly associated with a place or thing <she has become an institution in the theater>
- b : an established organization or corporation (as a bank or university) especially of a public character
Institutions are structures and mechanisms of social order and cooperation governing the behavior of a set of individuals within a given human collectivity. 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 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 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 mechanism for political rule-making and enforcement. The creation and evolution of institutions is a primary topic for history.
69:1.2 Human institutions are of three general classes:
- 1. 69:1.3 The institutions of self-maintenance. These institutions embrace those practices growing out of food hunger and its associated instincts of self-preservation. They include industry, property, war for gain, and all the regulative machinery of society. Sooner or later the fear instinct fosters the establishment of these institutions of survival by means of taboo, convention, and religious sanction. But fear, ignorance, and superstition have played a prominent part in the early origin and subsequent development of all human institutions.
- 2. 69:1.4 The institutions of self-perpetuation. These are the establishments of society growing out of sex hunger, maternal instinct, and the higher tender emotions of the races. They embrace the social safeguards of the home and the school, of family life, education, ethics, and religion. They include marriage customs, war for defense, and home building.
- 3. 69:1.5 The institutions of self-gratification. These are the practices growing out of vanity proclivities and pride emotions; and they embrace customs in dress and personal adornment, social usages, war for glory, dancing, amusement, games, and other phases of sensual gratification. But civilization has never evolved distinctive institutions of self-gratification.
69:1.6 These three groups of social practices are intimately interrelated and minutely interdependent the one upon the other. On Urantia they represent a complex organization which functions as a single social mechanism.