An Institution is a set of formal and informal rules, guidelines, norms, values, and behavioural and psychological scripts aimed at meeting some human need or achieving some (overt or covert) human goal through the careful control and direction of human behaviour.<ref>———. Rocket Scientists’ Guide to Religion and Human Spirituality. St. Albert, Alberta: Lightning Path Press, 2020.</ref
For example, the institution of education is a formal and informal set of rules, guidelines, norms, and values aimed at the overt goal of educating children. Those who enter the educational institution are expected to follow the rules (i.e., sit in desks, listen to teacher, assess students with exams), act in line with expectations, and otherwise carry out the actions scripted by the institution and its carriers. The ostensible purpose of following the rules and obeying the scripts is to ensure children are educated properly
There are many types of institutions besides the institution of modern education, including the institution of the family, the institution of marriage, modern financial institutions (like banks and stock markets), and so on. All that is required of an institutino is that there be rules, guidelines, norms, and scripts that control human behaviour for specific human purposes.
In most cases, institutions may be housed in physical structures. The institution of education, for example, has offices and classrooms. It is important to note that a physical structure is not a required characteristic of an institution. The tribal institution of story telling (which is patterned behavior organized around a functional output), for example, is independent of any physical structures.
Although we are often born into institutions, institutions themselves do not exist without tacit individual approval and acceptance of behavioral patterns. Teachers, for example, recreate the institution of education on a daily basis by their formal and informal participation in the behavioral patterns associated with the institution. It is the same with all institutions. An institution exists only when individuals voluntarily (or involuntarily) participate in the behavioral patterns. In other words, the behavioral patterns of institutions do not exist independently of the institution. We (and by "we" I mean the witting or unwitting participants in institutional behaviors) are taught the "ways" and behaviors of a specific institution. Teachers for example spend many extra years in school not only learning the technical component of teaching, but also the expected behaviors. The same can be said of any institution in society. The behaviors, norms, and values associated with particular institutions are "passed on." This process of learning the institutional ropes is known as Socialization.