institutionalization theory

Institutional theory attends to the deeper and more resilient aspects of social structure. It considers the processes by which structures, including schemas, rules, norms, and routines, become established as authoritative guidelines for social behavior. It inquires into how these elements are created, diffused, adopted, and adapted over space and time; and how they fall into decline and disuse. Although the ostensible subject is stability and order in social life, students of institutions must perforce attend not just to consensus and conformity but to conflict and change in social structures.

Source: Scott, W. Richard 2004. “Institutional theory” P408-14 in Encyclopedia of Social Theory, George Ritzer, ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

For further reading: