Total Institutions Selena park

Selena Park

Stamp, S


Wednesday, November 28th, 2016


A total institution in which there is a “barrier to social intercourse with the outside,” which often takes a physical form. It is an institution that controls almost all aspects of its members' lives. Individuals come together in a shared environment to share and conform to similar societal norms ultimately creating a clear flow of social actions.


Total institutions can be very helpful for reforming individuals to change into something they hope to achieve. It teaches the inmates/students/recruits about how to act, talk, think, etc. in their new role. Emotionally, these individuals are typically stronger and more stable when they are re-socialized. If treatment is allowed within the institution, it may be beneficial for improving not only their physical health but mental health. In some cases, individuals may be more confident with feelings of being included in a community. Supervision from trained staff and therapists may help in terms of fixing the negative aspects of one’s life. Good behaviour is sometimes rewarded in prisons, so inmates may choose to fix and change their criminal ways by doing good deeds. Overall, individuals with bad morals can change them to good ones. They may share common morals and better fit into society.


In some institutions, individuals may experience a decrease in confidence, self-esteem and independence. There is not much freedom so individuals are not free to do what they please. Stress is a huge factor for institutions as there are always the few individuals who cannot follow instructions and fail to show improvements. Mental illness sometimes makes one’s time more difficult, particularly when they are denied treatment. Separation from loved ones can lead to mental illnesses. They are forced to continue their daily routines without a stable mental state which increases stress, anxiety and depression. In some cases, although the bad characteristics of an individual may be erased, good aspects of personality may be erased as well. Their pre-existing good morals may change even though it is not the intention of the institution. The staff or those commanding the inmates/students/recruits may be immoral or unfair ultimately leading to the inability to properly function in society, especially after a long period of time. This may interfere with their capability of being their own individual, for example, being looked down upon and following whatever others tell them to do.

How do they work?

Total institutions have staff and leaders to shape the lives of the members of the institution. They are not given much liberty in hopes to follow rules, forming their new roles. They set specific responsibilities and activities to do in order to re-socialize its members.


•Juvenile detention

• Prisons

• Military camps

• Psychiatric institutions

• Reform schools

•Boarding schools

• Rehabilitation centres

• Foster care


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