Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: May 28, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963930 | Print ISBN: 9781412941655 | Online ISBN: 9781412963930| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Sarah Bacon & Patricia Y. Warren
Erving Goffman defined total institutions in 1961 as places of residence and work where individuals lead together an enclosed, formally administered life cut off from the wider society for an appreciable period of time. Total institutions are a departure from basic modern social arrangements where members sleep, play, and work in different places and with different people, under different authorities and without a unified rational plan. Unlike traditional social institutions, total institutions are distinct in four ways: (1) all aspects of life are conducted under the control and regulation of a single authority; (2) individuals are in the company of similarly situated people; (3) individuals are under a rigid schedule; and (4) all activities are designed to satisfy the goals of the institution. Prisons and mental hospitals are the most frequently explored examples of total institutions, but the concept may also apply to military bases, boarding schools, religious institutions, Goffman's ...