Aug 05

The science of sociology in organizations and institutions is extremely powerful. Understanding how and why organizations are set up and the power of institutions can help us better understand ourselves and society.

Once consciously outside of society’s iron cage of rationality, a sociologically mindful person may come up with many questions and pondering ideas on why/how they act a certain way, belief a certain ideal, eat a certain food, and much more. There is much more to consider though.

Our caged world

Our caged world

The power of institutions is so gravely large that we may always be trapped within bounded rationality, no matter how much conscious effort is exploited, but we can always raise questions and engage in critical thinking to help alleviate this burden.

How can we attain knowledge outside of our bounded rationality and escape the iron cage of rationality? How do we make sense of the world after we drop our original framework of reference? Institutional knowledge, racism, nationalism, prejudices, and many more ideologies start from the day we are born. Are these institutional ideas involuntarily created and part of an agenda for people in power to condition society to serve their interests?

We must question authority and power in essence of our bounded rationality and autopilot mentality. Is our capitalistic society and vertically designed bureaucracies the source of the many conceptualization errors that effect our every day life? How come we always question power and who has it? Do our suspicions supersede our acquisitions? Are Nationalism, Patriotism, and Individualism implicitly promoted in our society, through textbooks, media, and other agents, to help condition more consideration towards war?

The scope of power operates on many different levels, ranging from interpersonal to global arenas. How do we legitimize power and the effects it has on our lives? What social processes designate what meanings we attach to both organizations and institutions? How come the ‘sheep’, oblivious to hierarchical agendas, believe McDonald’s is a fast, quick, cheap place to eat food, but in reality is single-handily linked to the rise of obesity and depletion of animals?

Above all, what is the truth? Do institutions and organizations help construct our social meaning of ‘the truth’ and even our very own reality?

Designing questions in this field of study unleashes a plethora of ideas and concerns about our society. One question can lead to another because so many ideas are interconnected in sociology, especially since institutions are the foundation to almost all knowledge. One term can be used to describe several different areas of this study. Questions are what fuel sociology since they concern the construction of the object and the legitimacy of the methods. In reflection, every interaction we have with somebody is rooted to some institutional habit.

Despite my limited experience and knowledge in the sociological power of institutions and organizations, I still feel that some questions may never be given an answer. The knowledge learned and to-learn is bounded by the rationality framed by institutions. But on the contrary, engaging in sociological mindfulness helps lift us out of the institutional cage; and many answers to our questions look a lot clearer from the outside.

My personal experience at micro-level institutions and organizations help me better understand the macro-level and power of them. Micheal Schwalbe discusses mindfulness the best, “When being mindful, people can perceive the causes and consequences of their actions more fully… Where mindfulness thrives, there will be less ignorance, fear, and suffering in which evil can take root (113).” By observing patterns, social exchanges, interactions, and designing questions; a lot can be learned about how actively we participate in the overall institutional ideals promoted in our daily lives.

I am limited to my historical and societal context that I am a part of. I can not escape the boundaries and limitations of this particular context. Some sociological inquiries are hard to conceive in our modern society, but may have been easily answered in a different time frame or culture that has different institutional beliefs and ideas.

Even our private groups of friends can be an example of an organization. We exchange ideas, share our thoughts, and inadvertently design an implicit bureaucratic system. By observing these interactions mindfully, it is apparent how interdependent we are on each other.

Magnifying this demonstration can help us better understand organizations and institutions from a much larger scope. After all, are not these larger scaled institutions just a larger group of people interacting and exchanging ideas? The larger the amount of people the more power, control, and structure that can be seen. More problems and conceptualization errors are apparent the larger they get, especially when viewing our society as a whole and designing questions about it.

The theoretical questions that continue to flow to my mind about social interaction, power, control, institutions, and more are definitely sociologically relevant. But what makes them necessarily relevant to sociology? They activate my sociological imagination, which allows me to shift my individualistic perspectives aside and look out towards society. These questions are about the collective behavior of organized groups of human beings.

In essence, I feel that every question could be sociologically relevant to some degree because, as I mentioned earlier, all questions are bounded by rationality and all knowledge is institutionally rooted. All questions, interactions, thoughts, and just about everything is in some way sociologically relevant.

In contrast, how do these questions relate to other academic disciplines? Everything is connected negatively or positively and when looking at other fields of study, sociological questions are easy to abide by. One could question the basic structure of how science is designed and legitimated to us. It is also very easy to consider power and what type of information is being taught to us through academic books, lectures, etc. Sociology is the ultimate truth and basic framework that all academic fields operate on.

A lot can be judged about the nature of our society just by reading my questions. What types of dysfunctions promote this tainted view towards society that I have? Raising such questions makes me feel disgusted that I live in such chaotic world, but do I have any other choice?

As long as there are people interacting, there will be dysfunctional problems to society to some degree, it is just unpreventable. Are my thoughts monopolarized from the tendency to develop a dependency on one right theory and one truth? Is this train of thinking an institutionalized product? Edward Seidman explains how maladaptive thinking is necessary to minimize conceptualization errors in our justice system, “we have to become aware that there are other ways of thinking (249),” but this can be applied to a much more.

I feel so free and uncontrolled when being sociologically mindful and generating questions. But unfortunately, this feeling is not attainable all the time, at least for me. I am still a victim of all the institutional ideals and knowledge that I have learned so ignorantly in the past.

I will always be an active participant in institutions and organization, despite all the flaws that I think they have. I am obligated to wake up and go to work to earn money to pay the bills. I am part of a family, have a relationship with my girlfriend, and share laughs with my friends. These are all social products that I must give attention to. In case I get trapped in my cage again, I can always reference and initiate intellectual sociological questions to set me free. But I am going to practice mindfulness routinely, so I can become positively institutionalized and inversely flip the boundaries of my institutional cage.


  1. Siedman, Eward. Redefining Social Problems. New York and London: Plenum Press, 1978.
  2. Schwalbe, Michael. The Sociologically Examined Life. Boston: McGraw Hill, 2001.

Comments are closed.