- Free Essays, Term Papers & Book Notes

Pcan Anything Be Learned from the Study of Total Institutions Which Can Help Us to Understand Organizations with Strong Corporate Cultures?

By:   •  Research Paper  •  2,341 Words  •  January 28, 2010  •  791 Views

Page 1 of 10

Join now to read essay Pcan Anything Be Learned from the Study of Total Institutions Which Can Help Us to Understand Organizations with Strong Corporate Cultures?


Goffman established the total institutions theory in 1961,he revealed the role changing process of the inmate, the relationship between staff and inmate, the underlife aspect of inmate and the important characteristics and features within the total institutions. It is interesting to find out that organizations with a strong corporate culture and the total institutions he Goffman described have many things in common, analyzing the total institutions theory helps a great deal of understanding the nature of organization who carries strong culture. In the following words, the aspects on total institution theory will be explored, and the natures and similarities between them will be Illustrated and discussed by using example of school and Disney Corpoeration.

Introduction to Goffman’s total institution theory

Goffman’s study used number of examples such as mental hospitals, prisons, prisoners of war camps and abbeys to discus the process of re-socialization, he pointed out that total institutions control all the individual’s life activities. In mental hospitals, personal stuff of inmates are taken away from them, including their cloths, identifications, watches. In militaries, soldiers are demanded to fully obey the orders. Any attitudes of unwillingness will make officers unhappy. Thus, in total institutions, every bit of inmate’s life is managed by the authorities, but individuals are often taken away. The authorities usually limit inmate’s communication with outside world and establish a deep initial break with past roles for inmates.

Goffman suggested four important characteristics of total institutions, “(1) all aspects of life are conducted in the same place and under the same single authority, (2) each phase of the member’s daily activity will be carried out in the immediate company of a large batch of others, all of whom are treated alike and required to do the same thing together, (3)all phases of the day’s activities are tightly scheduled, (4 ) the contents of the various enforced activities are brought together as parts of a single overall rational plan.”(Goffman, 1961). The above characteristics can also be found in other organizations such as large corporations, training centers, factories or education institutes.

Goffman believed when inmates enter a total institution, the carries outside world beliefs, attitudes and traditions, which he called “presenting culture”. Total institutions intend to maintain the stability, they cut off inmate’s all the social arrangements and supports from outside worlds and put a series of self humiliations to them in order to rebuild the individual that fit in the institutions. He called these processes “systematically mortified”. In military school, new student must give up all their past life experience immediately, in two months , they are not allowed to either leave school or contact outsiders, even families. The isolation helps new students to develop a collective consciousness, they are no longer seen as a random combination of people of different level. Further more, they are required to wear the same uniform from day one and forbidden from ether calling friend and families or accepting financial help from them. The aim is to get them to develop a new role which replace the previous one.

Apart from these, there are many types of mortification ceremonies can be found in total institutions, it makes inmates lose sense of security and gives worries to them. For example, in mental hospital, inmates are forced to use spoons only to eat food; soldiers are required to stand up when officer step in the room; public inmates personal letters. Therefore, mortification ceremonies are aimed to take away the freedom of inmate’s decision making and movement. Once inmate lose the power to make their own life decision, they will be facing fear and nervures.

Generally speaking, the Goffman’s study of total institutions mainly focuses on the relationship between the staff and inmate. One of the key accomplishments is that it expose the differences between two different parties on the level of social equity, moral quality and autognosis. Thus, the all the social arrangements seem to explore the distinctions between staff and patient in mental hospital, authority and inmate in prison, and officer and soldier in military.

Finally, Goffman claimed there is significant meaning about research on underlife sector of total institutions. It helps to understand how inmate live their life, including hiding spot, transportation, free place, trading item as so on, which are basic condition of inside life. There are two concepts need to be understand in order to further analyze underlife of inmate, firstly primary adjustments concerns with that individual are voluntarily make contribution to the organization and

Continue for 9 more pages »  •  Join now to read essay Pcan Anything Be Learned from the Study of Total Institutions Which Can Help Us to Understand Organizations with Strong Corporate Cultures? and other term papers or research documents
Download as (for upgraded members)