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Social institutions - education, family, and religion

Created by Sydney Brown.

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Video transcript

Voiceover: We've heard in general about institutions. What they are, what role they play in society. Now let's take a closer look at specific institutions like education, family and religion. Each of these institutions plays a fundamental role in both creating and supporting society. And each shapes the individuals who make up that society. Education is more than just going to school, memorizing what the teacher writes on the board, and taking a test on it a few weeks later. There is a hidden curriculum of information that is taught outside the official curriculum. We learn how to stand in line, how to wait our turn to ask a question, how to treat our peers. We learn without realizing it. We are socialized to internalize certain social inequalities when girls and boys are treated differently in school by their teachers. Teachers expect different things from different students. And that expectation affects how students learn. Teachers tend to get what they expect from their students. If the teacher only expects a certain level of effort or skill, that's all the students will give them. Teachers put students into categories based on the student's perceived abilities. And the teacher expect certain things based on the categorization. But what if the categorization is wrong? Then the student is not challenged enough and might only meet the teacher's expectations rather than exceeding the expectation to reach their true potential. Sometimes the limiting factor comes from outside the classroom itself. Schools experience educational segregation and stratification in part because the way that we fund schools is most often through property taxes. This creates inequalities between different school districts which have different property taxes. So the schools in lower income districts will often get less funding than those in affluent neighborhoods. You can see a reflection of the socioeconomic inequalities in our society in the funding given to schools, and the residential segregation that occurs based on what neighborhoods people can afford to live in. There's a lot more to the institution of education than first meets the eye. Let's see what's hidden in some other institutions. Family is another institution essential to our society. It can defined by many forms of kinship including blood, marriage and adoption. In the United States, we put more value on the small nuclear family than on the larger extended family. Though, that depends on the society. Different family values go hand in hand with different social obligations to the family, and also with the economy. Rural families were production-based, so large families were beneficial. As people moved into cities, families became consumption-based. So, having a large family actually became a strain on their resources. With urbanization came changes and expectations of family roles and child care. There's much diversity in family forms. A family can be a married couple or a single parents or step families, or gay couples, adoptive families, generation skips where the grandparents take care of the little ones. Or some other unit I haven't mentioned. There is no one uniform type of family. When we talk about family, we have to talk about marriage and divorce. New families often begin with marriage. When people join together, and begin a life together. For something that was intended to be rather permanent, citizens of the United States tend to experience multiple marriages in their lifetime. We are serial monogamists as we go from one marriage or relationship to the next. This means that divorce is becoming a normal aspect of family life, but because we expect marriage to be permanent, divorce created tension. Especially when children are involved and custody battles or when a parent remarries. No family is perfect. And unfortunately, some families contain violence. We often hear of extreme cases of child abuse where the child is physically abused. Often by another member of the family. More common though is abuse through neglect, such as a lack of parental supervision, or poor nutrition or insufficient clothing. Children aren't the only family members to be abused. Elder abuse occurs when families aren't ready for the responsibility of taking care of elders. Having no plan of who will take care of the elderly, and the expense of nursing homes, can lead to robbery, threats, and neglect of elder members of the family. Spousal abuse is also very common. Again abuse is not just physical, it can also be psychological. While spousal abuse is usually perpetrated by men, men can also be the victims. Often, it is economic issues that lead to abuse. A pattern or behavior that takes years to escalate. It is about controlling the partner and limiting their support network, which makes it difficult for a victim to get out of the situation. It is difficult for abused spouses to seek help. Women's shelters don't always accept kids, while for men, the social stigma that men don't get abused keeps them quiet. There's much more to the institution of family than raising a kid. Religion is another institution that permeates our society. The religiosity, or how religious a person is, can range from private beliefs to spiritual routines to institutionalized religion. Or, to reading the Bible but not attending church. To celebrating Passover because your grandmother cooks dinner. To facing a keebla and praying five times every day. There are many types of religious organizations. Churches are established religious bodies like the Roman Catholic church. Sects tend to be smaller and are established in protest of an established church. They are a revival and break away from the established church like the movement of the restoration of the ten commandments of God. Cults are more radical. They break away and reject the values of outside society undergoing a complete religious renovation. They rise when there is a break down of societal belief systems but they're usually short lived because they depend on an inspirational leader who will only live for so long. Over the years religion has been affected by social change. Modernization has led to more information being available to the public, and less emphasis in society on religion, leading to secularization. Secularization in turn, is the weakening of social and political power of religious organizations, as religious involvement and belief declines. But then you have the reaction to secularization in fundamentalism, when people go back to the strict religious teachings and beliefs, though this can create social problems when people become too extreme. In the end, in some shape or form, religion affects everyone in society.