Institution, in a social context, means mechanisms or structures that are designed to ensure cooperation of individuals or their behavior within their community. Institutions usually exist with a particular purpose that is meant to serve and their existence is often transcending over a long period of time. Although different institutions serve different purposes, the fundamental idea behind their formation is to enforce a certain set of rules with a view to govern human behavior. In some instance, the word “institution” is used to imply the customs or the behavioral patterns of a particular society. However, this gives an informal meaning, which differs from what institutions conventionally mean. For instance, the word is currently used loosely to mean formal organizations that have a set of unique human behavior. According to Durkheim, science of institutions forms the principle object in political rule-making as well as the enforcement of the rules. Some of the most popular social institutions include the family, schools, military, media and the civil society among others (North 23).
John Rawls, born and raised in Maryland, was a popular figure in American politics for his theory of justice as fairnessand the account of political liberalism. According to the literature, he was one of the most prominent American political philosophers in the tradition of the American liberation. For instance, his theory of justice as fairness emphasized that social institutions are composed of free citizens who deserve equal rights, especially with regards to the economy. In addition, he gave a perfect account of political liberalism as the use of political power to achieve social unity and fill the gaps between different social groups. The focus of his works was on designing a tolerant and peaceful social set up in the world. According to him, political philosophy has four roles in the society, which include practical reasoning to heal social rifts, provide social orientation, probing the reality of political applicability as well as the genuine pursuit of reconciliation (Richardson & Weithman 17).
In conclusion, social institutions define people’s behavior within their societies. However, the philosophy of John Rawls attempts to explain how structures can be put in place to ensure that social cohesion prevails in the society.