Social institutions are essential to any society because they govern, guide, and serve the people. Therefore, the life of an individual is strongly influenced by diverse institutions while it is not always noticed or evident. Institutions can be defined as social organizations that are characterized by established behavior patterns arranged to serve particular purposes. The social institutions that have the most significant impact on society include education, work and economy, the state and public policy, and the media.
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All of them are integral to the functioning of society and play different roles. For example, these institutions are involved in both maintenance and enforcement of the oppression and privilege system as well as have an impact on access to resources. The paper investigates the aspects of influence that the mentioned social institutions have on oppression and privilege as well on access to resources.
The life of society is greatly stereotyped in some intersecting categories such as race and ethnicity, religion, nationality, gender, age, class, and ability. Disparities among individuals in society are found in inequality and privilege that are influenced by institutions. Social institutions in the context of this work include education, work and economy, state and public policy, and the media. Despite their different tasks and goals, they share a common function of supporting systems of inequality and privilege.
The example can be found in the work of any of the systems under consideration. Thus, in the aspect of education, inequality as well as privilege, is mainly related to such categories as race and ethnicity as well as social class, while both categories are interrelated because representatives of certain population groups stereotypically belong to a lower social class compared to other populations. Thus, people of color frequently have lower income and cannot afford prestigious schools, which remain the prerogative of the privileged students whose parents have a higher status and income.
At the same time, even in contemporary schools, there is a problem of gender segregation that still exists despite numerous attempts to fight inequality and boys frequently dominate over girls in a classroom. Speaking about work and economy, the institution can involve inequality due to discrimination because of gender, race, or age. For example, a middle-aged Latino woman has fewer chances to get a well-paid or prestigious job than a white young man.
Moreover, an institution of the state and public policy, which is expected to be unbiased and fair, is also involved in discrimination and inequality. Thus, immigration politics provided by some countries do not treat people of color equally. Moreover, the representation of these policies in the media makes them sound fair thus influencing public opinion. There are more examples of the role that social institutions have in the maintenance and enforcement of oppression and privilege systems, but these few cases provide enough evidence of their negative impact.
On the one hand, certain inequality and privilege are a demand of society, which is supported by social institutions. People of higher income and social class want a particular attitude in education or other services they receive as well as a place of living or position at work. Institutions, in turn, maintain and enforce the oppression of some social groups and at the same time provide privilege to the other ones. This approach leads to segregated neighborhoods and schools, the wage gap, discrimination in employment, unfair treatment by police or other legal services, and prejudice about people of another race or religion in diverse aspects of life.
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On the other hand, institutions within a certain country are expected to serve the citizens providing high-quality service according to their tasks. Still, this approach is not likely to be implemented because maintenance and enforcement of privilege and oppression by the mentioned institutions has become a system and the privileged part of society is not interested in any change.
Another issue to consider in the context of institutions and their influence on society is the way these institutions impact access to resources. In this context, any service provided by an institution can be treated as a resource important for a certain group of people. In education, high-quality knowledge is a valuable resource since it allows getting a more prestigious and better-paid job; work and economy as an institution possess employment and money as resources and the privileged individuals have better access to them. In-state and public policy, power is the resource, which is accessed unequally by people, and in media, information can be considered a resource.
The distribution of resources is related to privileges provided by organizations. Thus, privileged people have better access to most of the resources while the oppressed populations have a minimum of the necessary resources.
To summarizing, it can be said that the impact of institutions on the maintenance of inequality systems is a fact that cannot be denied. Also, it should be kept in mind that maintenance and enforcement of systems of oppression and privilege together with the impact on access to resources are caused by a complex of factors. Moreover, all the institutions and their impacts are interrelated and influence each other together with providing an impact on society. Thus, a well-educated person has a better chance to be hired on a well-paid job and become successful in life, which involves the connection between such institutions as education and work and economy.
Also, media is an institution that has the power to influence minds and form opinions, which has an impact on state and public policies. For example, African Americans are frequently presented as criminals in the media, and the attitude of society on the whole and legal authorities such as police, in particular, is frequently negative. Another example is the negative image of Muslim people created by media after the terroristic acts of 9/11 and other similar events, which makes Muslims unwanted immigrants in many countries and undesired neighbors in communities.
On the whole, the role of institutions in society is great and their influence on diverse aspects of life is inevitable. Nevertheless, while social institutions are created to serve people and provide them with certain benefits, frequently these institutions become the source of inequality due to enforcement of oppression and privilege. It becomes a global problem that does not have an immediate solution because the privileged part of society is satisfied with the situation and the oppressed one does not have enough weight and power to stimulate change.
Therefore, as long as there is a demand for segregation in society, institutions will follow this pattern of maintenance of inequality and enforcement of oppression together with unfair access to resources. Any alteration of impact provided by social institutions is possible in case a greater part of society initiates it.