Characteristics, Concept and Types of Social Institutions and their Functions 

Characteristics, Concept and Types of Social Institutions and their Functions

Social institutions provide knowledge, skills, beliefs, values, culture, religion, norms, language, etc followed from ages to the generations to come. People will understand their role in society. It instills discipline, obedience, and responsibility in people. Social institutions will teach people to treat each other with respect and have compassion and empathy. It will teach an individual to communicate properly with a person or a large group and behave acceptably. Through interacting with others one will realise what their interests are and work towards it. People will understand societal norms and be aware of society’s expectations from them. 

As said by Jonathan Turner,

“a complex of positions, roles, norms and values lodged in particular types of social structures and organising relatively stable patterns of human activity with respect to fundamental problems in producing life-sustaining resources, in reproducing individuals, and in sustaining viable societal structures within a given environment.”

Jonathan Turner

In the words of Bogardus,

“A social institution is a structure of society that is organized to meet the needs of people chiefly through well established procedures.”


Characteristics of Social Institutions 

  • i). Every institution has certain rules and regulations that need to be followed by everyone. 
  • ii). Social institutions help in fulfilling the primary needs of individuals as well as in providing material resources.
  • iii). Institutions are universal as they exist in every society. 
  • iv). Institutions are rigid and stable so it does not keep changing. 
  • v). Social institutions assign roles and tasks to members of society. 
  • vi). It governs human behaviour and controls individuals. 
  • vii). Provide the required freedom to individuals in society.

Concept of Social Institutions 

  • i). Institutions have their own goals and objectives to achieve.
  • ii). Social institutions are permanent in structure. 
  • iii). It provides means to control society and individuals. 
  • iv). Provides roles and responsibilities to members of society.
  • v). It consists of both primary and secondary functions.
  • vi. Create harmony and unity among the members of society. 

Types of Social Institutions 


Family is the main institution of society. It is the oldest social institution. Family influences the younger generation’s habits, behaviour, values, beliefs and in developing proper behavioural patterns. 


Education institutions help to provide knowledge and skills to children. It is a necessary institution of society as it leads to the development of children and adopts acceptable behaviour and habits in them. Educational institutions also make individuals ready for their future and understand their interests. 


Religion has been practiced since ancient times since the forming of social institutions. It helps to establish proper values, beliefs, norms and morals in humans. Religion is a system of worship and faith.


Political institutions provide rules, laws, and regulations to control humans from doing anything harmful and wrong in society. It helps in maintaining order, discipline and protecting citizens in society.