If you're seeing this message, it means we're having trouble loading external resources on our website.

If you're behind a web filter, please make sure that the domains *.kastatic.org and *.kasandbox.org are unblocked.

Main content

Social institutions - government, economy, health and medicine

Created by Sydney Brown.

Want to join the conversation?

  • blobby green style avatar for user thickskin89
    When discussing low paying vs high paying jobs like garbageman vs pro athlete, its not so much specialization as it is human capital. Brands and sports organizations make millions off of pro athletes because people in society pay for tv and products, so naturally athletes will get a higher pay. Those millions earned off of the athletes can be invested in other businesses that grow the economy and make the nation even wealthier. Even though garbageman are essential, it is not a pleasant job, plus almost any human is capable of doing it. You were trying to argue pay based on arbitrary worth to the community instead of by individual human capital, which actually does lead to more prosperous societies.
    (5 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
    • male robot johnny style avatar for user chg90
      If being a garbageman is something that "almost any human is capable of doing" as you mentioned, and being a professional althlete is something not many are capable of doing, that sounds like a difference in specialization. The point of the lecture is how we value these specialized professions more despite how essential they are, not that those specialized professions (like athletes) aren't important. While pro athletes can stimulate the economy, which is important yes, we could function without them. If nobody collected our garbage, society would move into disequilibrium.
      (19 votes)
  • duskpin ultimate style avatar for user Sha'ul Kramer
    I love the absolutely rosy way communism and socialism are depicted here... I honestly don't know how one could make the argument that communism means that "everything is owned by the community as a whole" with a straight face.

    It might be useful to investigate things like the idea of the "Tragedy of the Commons", or what happened in world history every time it had been attempted?

    At least as an intellectual counterpoint so that we can have intellectual diversity?
    (3 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
    • starky sapling style avatar for user kassie
      The way she described the systems listed is simplified, but accurate. Clearly the point of this video is to give an overview of different political/economic systems and not to compare and contrast their successes and failures or start a debate over them. That could be an entire course in itself.
      (6 votes)
  • piceratops ultimate style avatar for user timk
    I think the idea of a sanitation worker being considered poorly paid a lousy example (e.g., NYC sanitation workers can make a 100k/yr with overtime). On the other hand, pro athletes are rare, and it is not an easy job, which is why they are paid so much. In fact, I would argue it is the fault of fans and the people who allow sports to make so much money that has enabled athletes to get paid so much. All I'm saying is that while the general ideas are present in this video there a lot more to these phenomena people should be aware of.
    (2 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
    • piceratops tree style avatar for user Jen
      I agree with your point about the sanitation workers being poorly paid but I think it's pretty representative with respect to how they can be considered socially. As for the athletes, note that she's talking about division of labor here () and value of labor. Athletes can for the most part be considered non-essential to societal function () so the idea is that how much they're paid is disproportionate to that role. Hope that helps!
      (5 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user Marrit
    Isn't one of the main characteristics of monarchy that the power is inherited by the monarch's offspring? And isn't a monarchy then an authoritarian system as it is ruled by a single person? Often it is not permitted to protest against the king/queen which would be a prohibition of anti-regime activity. (excuse my english)
    (3 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
    • piceratops tree style avatar for user Sumesh Srivastava
      It is not necessary that a monarchy be authoritarian. An absolute monarchy is authoritarian since there are no restraints on the monarch, but in a constitutional monarchy there is division of power. Some modern constitutional monarchies, like the UK, have democratic parliaments; it would be hard to say that the UK has an authoritarian government.
      Further, power doesn't have to be inherited only through birthright. There could be transfer of power through marriage, or even transfer of power through upheaval or abdication. I do think that transfer of power through birthright is typically associated with absolute monarchies.
      (2 votes)
  • male robot donald style avatar for user kele
    how does government relate to medical health and medicine
    (2 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
  • blobby green style avatar for user kaine.nowlin
    how does the health goverment work
    (1 vote)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
  • leafers seed style avatar for user abhijeetpandey114185
    What is the mean of nuclear family ?
    (1 vote)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
  • starky sapling style avatar for user Dani
    What if there was no Government or jobs?
    (1 vote)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
  • blobby green style avatar for user ejerfurth
    Is democracy really a type of government. I mean if everyone hates a dictator, than he will be overthrown isn't that democracy. Therefore would that just make democracy a principle of nature and not a man made governmental structure ?
    (0 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
    • stelly blue style avatar for user Ethan
      Historically, dictators have gotten around democracy by oppressing their own people until they are too weak to rebel (by starvation, lack of access to good healthcare, etc.). Also there are military dictatorships which use armed forces suppress any potential rebellious groups.
      (2 votes)

Video transcript

Voiceover: Now that we've examined education, family and religion, lets take a look at the government and economy. We give the government the power and authority to manage the country. Some governments take into consideration the will of the people, like democratic systems where all citizens participate in government, like law making and choosing officials. Others rule autonomously like authoritarian systems which command absolute obedience to authority. Dictatorships are authoritarian systems where the government is ruled by an individual without the consent of the citizens. Other types of political systems include communism, which is a classless, money less system, where all property is owned by the community. A monarchy is a government that is embodied by a single person. There are many facets to the government but the queen or king is the figurehead. There are also a couple different economic systems in our world. Capitalism is motivated by profits, and features private ownership of production, with a market economy based on supply and demand. Socialism is motivated by what benefits the society as a whole, and features common ownership of production that focuses on human needs and economic demand. The division of labor in our government and economy is functionalist, meaning everyone is expected to have a responsibility in society. It is interesting how we value certain types of labor more than others. Garbage men, who are essential to society are not well valued and not well paid. Athletes on the other hand are non-essential but they are highly valued and well paid. We value jobs that require lots of specialization and education, rather than the jobs that are essential to our society. This creates inequalities because no everyone has access to those valued professions due to limited education or resources. We see this disparity throughout society, including education and healthcare and medicine. Healthcare and medicine is the final institution we will examine here. We know medicine exists to keep people healthy. But it also has other effects on society. Medicalization for example occurs when human conditions get defined and treated as medical conditions, and become a subject of medical study, diagnosis, and treatment. This often occurs with mental health type issues, like sadness and attention, but also can occur with physical issues like birth. People are becoming over-diagnosed with depression or ADD. While it is true that these are serious conditions, being sad doesn't mean you're depressed, and having difficulty focusing doesn't mean you have ADD. Birth has become medicalized, as women and doctors plan C-sections, rather than having natural births. Another effect of health and medicine is the sick rule. This is the expectation within society that allows you to take a break from responsibilities in order to get better when you're sick. But if you don't get better or don't return to your place in society, you are viewed as deviant and harmful to society. And major part of the institution of health and medicine is the delivery of healthcare. There are massive inequalities in terms of access. We take care of the elderly through Medicaid and Medicare and the children through child health insurance programs, but the people in between get left behind. These are the people who populate the working force. And when they get sick it can seriously affect society. The Affordable Care Act is trying to fix this gap, but it's still too early to tell. We spend a lot of money on healthcare, but we don't get the desired outcomes because people still get sick. This is because we invest a lot more money in helping people once they are sick, than in developing preventative medicine. Almost everyone will be sick at some point in their lives. The illness experience is the process of being ill and how people cope with their illness. Being ill can change a person's self identity. The diagnosis of a chronic disease can take over your life where every decision revolves around the disease. There are stigmas associated with certain diseases, like mental illnesses or STDs, that can affect how others perceive you. Even how people experience a disease differs depending on if they have access to resources, like palliative care. Social epidemiology looks at health disparities through social indicators like race, gender, and income distribution, and it looks at how social factors affect a person's health. There's a correlation between social advantages or disadvantages and the distribution of health or disease. Well, there we have it, a closer look into the institutions that make up and support our society. But this is just skimming the surface. There is so much more depth to every topic here, more facts, more consequences. Just take a look at your world to see how much more there is to this institutions that perhaps once seemed simple.