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Unit Planning

Organizing and aligning instructional plans to support student learning.

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The importance of planning.

Learning requires building new skills and understanding on prior knowledge and abilities. The order and way students experience new information will have a large impact on how successful they are at learning. A clear and succinct plan will play a large role in this success. There are two levels of plans that guide course building:

  • Scope and Sequence: The big-picture organization that covers the entire semester. The scope consists of the topics, concepts and skills that will be taught throughout the course. The sequence is the order in which these will be taught.
  • Unit Plans: The groupings of sequential lessons (by theme, topic, step in a process, skill, essential question, etc.) that are components of the course.

Your scope and sequence is a course map that identifies what concepts and skills students will learn and when. It helps instructors identify overarching topics and themes, as well as how the learning outcomes connect to each. Developing a scope and sequence can ensure how the learning outcomes are covered and achieved, and inform the appropriate amount of time it will take students to reach these outcomes.

Unit plans comprise what will be taught, how, for what purpose, and for how long. They are purposeful, clear, and well-paced plans including aligned teaching approaches and active learning strategies .

The benefit of planning is twofold.

  • First, it helps you create a high-quality plan that guides instruction, but also helps students understand what will be covered, why it will be covered, and how they will practice the knowledge, concepts and skills to meet the unit’s objectives, and in turn, the course’s learning outcomes.
  • Second, it ensures an aligned plan for instruction and learning that is inclusive of your students’ learning needs. Having an organized plan helps you consider all the course design elements you need to integrate for your students to have successful learning experiences.

Planning helps you increase the likelihood of your students obtaining the course learning outcomes.

Building a Plan

Scope and sequence.

To help you plan your scope and sequence, review your course planning sheet from the design section. Your scope and sequence plan will organize and order your design plan. At this point you will begin grouping or outlining units centered around topics, skills, themes, objectives, or essential questions. First, identify the following components:

  • Topic: The topics, themes or big ideas you will cover. These groupings will serve as beginning sketches of units that will be developed during unit planning. Decide if your units will be thematic, goals-based or project-based.
  • Learning outcomes: Using the learning outcomes you designed from your course design template, determine which units will help students reach which learning outcomes of your course.
  • Unit objectives: Unit objectives align with course learning outcomes and are smaller in scope. Think about what you want students to be able to do at the end of each unit (not the end of the course) and which outcomes they contribute to. 
  • Assessments: Using the assessments from your course design template, begin mapping out where larger summative assessments may occur to ensure that all learning outcomes are accounted for and that your scope accounts for the time needed for assessments
  • Sequence of activities: Using the activities from your course design template, map out re-occurring and unique activities, where they take place and how long. If aligned, these may overlap heavily with unit objectives.
  • Key resources: Select a diverse array of authentic texts and content . Ensure that these materials are presented in a variety of formats. (e.g., visual, auditory).

When mapping components make sure to consider the following:

  • Purpose : Think about the value of what you are teaching instead of trusting the content or sequence of other resources, such as a textbook.
  • Instructional sequence : Organize your topics, themes or big ideas in a manner that is optimal for student learning, and ensure that topics are interconnected and build on each other. Scaffold instruction  to best support learning processes. Decide how much time you will need to spend on each topic.

When you build your scope and sequence plan use the following template:

After broadly grouping units in the scope and sequence stage, and considering components in relation to each other, you will now build the individual unit plans. The topics, content and materials, learning outcomes, assessments, and activities should all support the outcomes of the unit. As you build you may iteratively adjust the scope and sequence plan, and this may in turn affect other units.

The unit plan, guided by the scope and sequence template, consists of the following components:

Establishing Objectives

  • Unit objectives : (See above).
  • Essential questions : The defining questions that a unit will help answer. Essential questions help guide students to thoughtfully inquire and think deeply about the subject. The essential questions can either be course specific or unit specific.
  • Unit introduction : How you want to introduce a unit to your students. This is an opportunity to spark student interest and share the authentic application of the unit. This may include posting the unit’s overview, objects, and essential questions followed by an instructor led introduction video.

Gathering Evidence

  • Assessments : Assessments  measure student progress towards achieving learning outcomes. It is important to have a continuum of assessments that inform you and your students about their understandings and misunderstandings throughout the learning process. Consider diagnostic , formative and summative assessments.

Teaching and Learning

  • Activities : Activities contribute to learning concepts and skills and should clearly be connected to unit objectives. This includes choosing effective teaching methods , active learning strategies and how you will scaffold content to best support student learning.

When unit planning consider the following:

  • Expectations : Clear explanations for what students will do, why, and criteria for achievement. Make sure to describe your vision, focus, and objectives of the unit to your students. Take the time to answer questions and to address and support students’ needs. Students should clearly understand the purpose and relevancy of the unit, as well as what is expected of them.
  • Continuity and consistency : For students to be successful it is very important that there is continuity and consistency across units. This information should be clearly stated and documented in the syllabus, and if applicable, in UB Learns.
  • Share unit components : Share with your students what each unit will include. Provide your students with a brief overview of the unit objectives, teaching methods, materials, assessments, activities, evaluation tools, and reflection process.
  • Adjust as needed : Although changes to unit plans can cause confusion, in some instances, changes should be made. During lessons you may observe that students are struggling, or after a lesson you conclude that students performed poorly on a task. These are times when adjustments to instruction can be beneficial. If no changes can be made in the moment, consider how a lesson or unit could be revised in the future. Take time to jot down your observations and encourage students to give feedback.
  • Scaffolding: Additionally, consider the diverse learning needs of your students and how scaffolding the content  will benefit learners. Providing students with multiple exposures to concepts helps them deepen their understanding. Revisit or review content by creating engaging activities or formative assessments into your unit plan. For example, if students are expected to be able to synthesize and summarize a case study, provide them with guided instruction, as well as opportunities for individual and small group practice. This will help students be able to practice the skills needed to independently summarize a case study in the future.

When you build a unit plan use the following template:

Building a Unit in UB Learns

Consider how you will build the structure of your units in your LMS. We will discuss building individual lesson items on the subsequent pages. Follow the steps below to begin planning how you will build your units in UB Learns.

First, determine each unit’s structure. This can include navigation of course content as well as choosing between folders, modules or or a combination of both. Be sure to remain consistent in both the structure you choose and the naming of each component. Use your scope and sequence to determine the best organizational strategy. Here is a quick overview of the two organizational options.

  • Documents, files, tests, assignments, multimedia, videos, links to websites, course links, journals, discussions and additional folders.
  • Table of contents, documents, files, tests, assignments, multimedia, videos, links to websites, course links, journals, discussions and folders.

Overall, you should consider including the following details in each unit:

  • Unit name : Topic and week. (Note: if you include specific dates, these will need to be updated each semester.)
  • Unit objectives : Share with students the purpose and application of the unit.
  • Content overview : Provide descriptions, activities, assessments, assignments, discussions, etc.
  • Directions and expectations : Explain clear and concise directions and expectations, including assignment objectives and due dates.

Review course exemplars for further ideas on how you can organize and structure your course.

Build your plans

  • Step 1: Determine your scope and sequence by using the Scope and Sequence template.
  • Step 2: Choose a unit from the scope and sequence. Use this Unit Plan template to begin to build out your unit plan.
  • Step 3: If applicable, build and name a folder or module in UB Learns.
  • Step 4: Review your course design template and scope and sequence template and continue filling out the unit plan throughout the following pages.

Now that you have created your scope and sequence and outlined your unit, the next step is to learn how to scaffold content.


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Institutional unit


Dernière mise à jour le : 13/10/2016

A basic economic decision-making centre characterised by the uniqueness of its behaviour and its decision-making autonomy in the fulfilment of its main function. A resident unit is said to be institutional when it has decision-making autonomy in the fulfilment of its main function and it has a full set of accounts, or at least would be able to establish meaningful accounts from the economic or legal viewpoint. Institutional units are grouped into institutional sectors.

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  • Section 1. Organizational Structure: An Overview

Chapter 9 Sections

  • Section 2. Creating and Gathering a Group to Guide Your Initiative
  • Section 3. Developing Multisector Task Forces or Action Committees for the Initiative
  • Section 4. Developing an Ongoing Board of Directors
  • Section 5. Welcoming and Training New Members to a Board of Directors
  • Section 6. Maintaining a Board of Directors
  • Section 7. Writing Bylaws
  • Section 8. Including Youth on Your Board, Commission, or Committee
  • Section 9. Understanding and Writing Contracts and Memoranda of Agreement
  • Main Section

What is organizational structure?

Why should you develop a structure for your organization, when should you develop a structure for your organization.

By structure, we mean the framework around which the group is organized, the underpinnings which keep the coalition functioning. It's the operating manual that tells members how the organization is put together and how it works. More specifically, structure describes how members are accepted, how leadership is chosen, and how decisions are made.

  • Structure gives members clear guidelines for how to proceed. A clearly-established structure gives the group a means to maintain order and resolve disagreements.
  • Structure binds members together. It gives meaning and identity to the people who join the group, as well as to the group itself.
  • Structure in any organization is inevitable -- an organization, by definition , implies a structure. Your group is going to have some structure whether it chooses to or not. It might as well be the structure which best matches up with what kind of organization you have, what kind of people are in it, and what you see yourself doing.

It is important to deal with structure early in the organization's development. Structural development can occur in proportion to other work the organization is doing, so that it does not crowd out that work. And it can occur in parallel with, at the same time as, your organization's growing accomplishments, so they take place in tandem, side by side. This means that you should think about structure from the beginning of your organization's life. As your group grows and changes, so should your thinking on the group's structure.

Elements of Structure

While the need for structure is clear, the best structure for a particular coalition is harder to determine. The best structure for any organization will depend upon who its members are, what the setting is, and how far the organization has come in its development.

Regardless of what type of structure your organization decides upon, three elements will always be there. They are inherent in the very idea of an organizational structure.

  • Some kind of governance

Rules by which the organization operates

  • A distribution of work

The first element of structure is governance - some person or group has to make the decisions within the organization.

Another important part of structure is having rules by which the organization operates. Many of these rules may be explicitly stated, while others may be implicit and unstated, though not necessarily any less powerful.

Distribution of work

Inherent in any organizational structure also is a distribution of work. The distribution can be formal or informal, temporary or enduring, but every organization will have some type of division of labor.

There are four tasks that are key to any group:

  • Envisioning desired changes . The group needs someone who looks at the world in a slightly different way and believes he or she can make others look at things from the same point of view.
  • Transforming the community . The group needs people who will go out and do the work that has been envisioned.
  • Planning for integration . Someone needs to take the vision and figure out how to accomplish it by breaking it up into strategies and goals.
  • Supporting the efforts of those working to promote change . The group needs support from the community to raise money for the organization, champion the initiative in the state legislature, and ensure that they continue working towards their vision.

Common Roles

Every group is different, and so each will have slightly different terms for the roles individuals play in their organization, but below are some common terms, along with definitions and their typical functions.

  • An initial steering committee is the group of people who get things started. Often, this group will create plans for funding, and organizational and board development. It may also generate by-laws, and then dissolve. If they continue to meet after approximately the first six months, we might say they have metamorphosed into a coordinating council .
  • A coordinating council (also referred to as a coordinating committee, executive committee , and executive council ), modifies broad, organization-wide objectives and strategies in response to input from individuals or committees.
  • Often, one person will take the place of the coordinating council, or may serve as its head. Such a person may be known as the Executive Director, Project Coordinator, Program Director, or President . He or she sometimes has a paid position, and may coordinate, manage, inspire, supervise, and support the work of other members of the organization.
  • Task forces are made up of members who work together around broad objectives. Task forces integrate the ideas set forward with the community work being done.
For example, from the director of a coalition to reduce violence in a medium-sized city: "Currently, we have three operational task forces. Members of each have an ongoing dialogue with members of the coordinating council, and also with their action committees. The oldest was formed with the goal of eliminating domestic violence about fifteen years ago, when a local woman was killed by her husband. Then, after several outbreaks of violence in the schools a few years back, our group offered to help, and a second task force sprung up around reducing youth violence. We've just started a third, with the goal of increasing gun safety. "All of it is interrelated, and all of it applies to our mission of increasing the safety of residents of South Haven, as well as that of our visitors. But each task force is contributing to that mission in vastly different ways, with different objectives, and using different strategies. 'Cause, you know, the strategies you use to stop a ninth grader from bringing a gun to school just aren't the same as the ones you use to stop a 40-year-old man on unemployment from beating his wife."
  •   Action committees bring about specific changes in programs, policies, and practices in the sectors in which they work.
For example, the task force on domestic violence mentioned above has the following action committees: A government and law enforcement committee . Members include police officers, lawyers, a judge, and a state representative. Currently, they are trying to pass laws with stronger penalties for those convicted of domestic violence, especially repeat offenders. They are also training officers to be better able to spot an abusive relationship, and better able to inform a victim of his or her options. A social services committee . Members (who include representatives from most of the service agencies in town) work to assure that staff members know where to send someone for the resources he or she needs. They are also trying to increase the number of trained volunteer counselors who work at the battered women's shelter. A media committee . Members include local journalists, writers, and graphic designers. They keep the project and the issue in the public's minds as much as possible with editorials, articles and news clips of events, as well as advertisements and public service announcements.
  •   Support committees are groups that help ensure that action committees or other individuals will have the resources and opportunities necessary to realize their vision. Financial and media committees are examples of committees formed to help support or facilitate your work.
  • Community trustees , also known as the board of trustees or as the board of directors , provide overall support, advice, and resources to members of the action groups. They are often either people who are directly affected by the issue or have stature in the community. That way, they are able to make contacts, network with other community leaders, and generally remove or weaken barriers to meeting organizational objectives.
  • Grantmakers are another part of the picture. Grantmakers exist on an international, national, state, and local level and may be private companies and foundations, or local, county, state, or federal government organizations (for example, block grants given by the city would fall into this category).
  • Support organizations (not to be confused with the support committees listed above) are groups that can give your organization the technical assistance it needs.
  • Partner organizations are other groups working on some of the same issues as your organization.

Although this list is pretty extensive, your organization may only use two or three of the above mentioned roles, especially at the beginning. It's not uncommon for a group to start with a steering committee, ask others to serve as board members, and then recruit volunteers who will serve as members of action committees. In this broad spectrum of possibilities, consider: Where does your organization fit in? Where do you want to be?

Examples of Structure

So how can all of these pieces be put together? Again, the form a community group takes should be based on what it does , and not the other way around. The structures given are simply meant to serve as examples that have been found to be effective for some community-based organizations; they can and should be adapted and modified for your own group's purposes.

  A relatively complex structure

Example - The Ste. Genevieve's Children's Coalition The Ste. Genevieve's Children's Coalition is a relatively large community-based group. They have a coordinating council, a media committee, and three task forces, dealing with adolescent pregnancy, immunization, and child hunger. Each of the task forces has action committees as well. For example, the adolescent pregnancy reduction task force has a schools committee that focuses on keeping teen parents in school and modifying the human sexuality curriculum. A health organizations committee focuses on increasing access and use of the youth clinic. The media committee works to keep children's issues in the news, and includes professionals from the local television stations, radio stations, newspaper, and a marketing professional. The coordinating council is composed of the executive director, her assistant, the media committee chair, and the chairs of each of the three task forces. A board of directors has been invaluable in helping keep the coalition financially viable.

In diagram form, a complex organization might look like this:

Image depicting a complex organization showing a large circle entitled Community Trustees. Outside this circle are three smaller circles with bidirectional arrows leading to/from the larger circle: “Community members; Collaborators; Supporting Organizations (funders, TA orgs).” Inside the large circle is a small circle entitled Coordinating Committee. Four other circles connect to this central circle: Support Committees (e.g., financial, media) and three Task Force circles, each with smaller Action Committee circles connected to them.

And in diagram form:

Image of a diagram depicting Mid-size Structure. A large circle entitled Community Trustees contains three smaller circles: One Coordinating Council and two Action Committee circles connecting to it.

As smaller size means fewer people, these groups are usually less complex, as they have less need for a formal hierarchy and instead have governance that is consensus-based. A diagram of such a small group might look something like this, with each of the circles representing an individual member:

Image of a Small-size Structure with no text labels, just six circles interconnected to each other.

What type of structure should you choose?

First, decide upon the formality your organization will have. The following table, adapted from The Spirit of Coalition Building can help you make this first decision.

Organizational structure is something that is best decided upon internally, through a process of critical thinking and discussion by members of the group.

In your discussions, your answers to the following list of questions may guide your decisions.

  • What is your common purpose? How broad is it? Groups with broader purposes often have more complicated structures, complete with many layers and parts, than do groups with more narrow purposes.
  • Is your group advocacy oriented or service oriented? Service organizations use "top down," one-person-in-charge structure much more often than do advocacy based groups.
  • Is your organization more centralized (e.g., through the work of a specific agency ) or decentralized (e.g., different neighborhoods working independently on the same problem)? A decentralized group might find a "top-down" structure inappropriate, as such a group often has several peers working together on an issue.
  • How large is your organization? How large do you envision it becoming? A very small organization may wish to remain relatively informal, while a community-wide group might require a more formal structure. A related question, with similar consequences, is:
  • How large is the community in which you work?
  • How old is your organization? How long do you envision it lasting? A group formed to resolve a single issue might not need a formal structure at all, while an organization with long-term goals may want something more concrete, with clearer divisional responsibilities and authority.
  • Is the organization entirely volunteer, or are there (or will there be) paid staff? How many? An organization with many paid staff members may find it more necessary to have people "in charge," as there are generally more rules and responsibilities for paid staff members, and thus, there must be more supervision in carrying out these roles.
  • Should yours be a new organization, or part of an existing structure? Do you really need to form a new structure, or would it be better to work within existing structures? Sometimes, your goals may be better met if you are part of (or linked with) another organization.

Structure is what ensures that your organization will function smoothly and as you intended. You should think about structure early in the development of your organization, but be aware that the type that fits best may change as your organization grows.

Online Resources

How to Develop an Organization Structure , by Tara Duggan, Demand Media, is an informational article on how to develop organization structure with a short step-by-step analysis.

It's All About the Base: A Guide to Building a Grassroots Organizing Program   from Community Catalyst.

Module 2: Organizational Structure , by Pathfinder International, is a concise manual describing pros and cons, together with suggestions for how one might change the organizational structure one has.

Print Resources

Berkowitz, W., & Wolff, T. (1999). The spirit of coalition building. Washington , DC: American Public Health Association.

Unterman, I. & Davis, R. (1984). Strategic management of not-for-profit organizations: From survival to success . New York, NY: Praeger.

Social Institutions in Sociology: Definition & Examples

Charlotte Nickerson

Research Assistant at Harvard University

Undergraduate at Harvard University

Charlotte Nickerson is a student at Harvard University obsessed with the intersection of mental health, productivity, and design.

Learn about our Editorial Process

Saul Mcleod, PhD

Editor-in-Chief for Simply Psychology

BSc (Hons) Psychology, MRes, PhD, University of Manchester

Saul Mcleod, PhD., is a qualified psychology teacher with over 18 years of experience in further and higher education. He has been published in peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of Clinical Psychology.

Olivia Guy-Evans, MSc

Associate Editor for Simply Psychology

BSc (Hons) Psychology, MSc Psychology of Education

Olivia Guy-Evans is a writer and associate editor for Simply Psychology. She has previously worked in healthcare and educational sectors.

On This Page:

Key Takeaways

  • A social institution is a group or organization that has specific roles, norms, and expectations, which functions to meet the social needs of society. The family, government, religion, education, and media are all examples of social institutions.
  • Social institutions are interdependent and continually interact and influence one another in everyday society. For example, some religious institutions believe they should have control over governmental and educational institutions.
  • Social institutions can have both manifest and latent functions . Manifest functions are those that are explicitly stated, while latent functions are not.
  • Each social institution plays a vital role in the functioning of society and the lives of the people that inhabit them.

What Are Social Institutions?

Social institutions are the organizations in society that influence how society is structured and functions. They include family, media, education, and the government.

A social institution is an established practice, tradition, behavior, or system of roles and relationships that is considered a normative structure or arrangement within a society.

Bogardus – “A social institution is a structure of society that is organized to meet the needs of people chiefly through well-established procedures.”

H. E. Barnes – “Social institutions are the social structure & machinery through which human society organizes, directs & executes the multifarious activities required to society for human need.”

Broadly, they are patterns of behavior grouped around the central needs of human beings in a society. One such example of an institution is marriage, where multiple people commit to follow certain rules and acquire a familial legal status about each other (Miller, 2007).

Social institutions have several key characteristics:

  • They are enduring and stable.
  • They serve a purpose, ideally providing better chances for human survival and flourishing.
  • They have roles that need to be filled.
  • Governing the behavior and expectations of sets of individuals within a given community.
  • The rules that govern them are usually ingrained in the basic cultural values of a society, as each institution consists of a complex cluster of social norms .

They also serve general functions, including:

  • Allocating resources
  • Creating meaning
  • Maintaining order
  • Growing society and its influence

Examples (and Functions)

The five major social institutions in sociology are family, education, religion, government (political), and the economy.

The family is one of the most important social institutions. It is considered a “building block” of society because it is the primary unit through which socialization occurs.

It is a social unit created by blood, marriage, or adoption, and can be described as nuclear, consisting of two parents and their children, or extended, encompassing other relatives. Although families differ widely around the world, families across cultures share certain common concerns in their everyday lives (Little & McGivern, 2020).

As a social institution, the family serves numerous, multifaceted functions. The family socializes its members by teaching them values, beliefs, and norms.

It also provides emotional support and economic stability. Sometimes, the family may even be a caretaker if one of its members is sick or disabled (Little & McGivern, 2020).

Historically, the family has been the central social institution of Western societies. However, more recently, as sociologists have observed, other social institutions have replaced the family in providing key functions, as family sizes have shrunk and provided more distant ties.

For example, modern schools have, in part, taken on the role of socializing children, and workplaces can provide shared meaning.

  • Functions of The Family (Marxism)
  • Functionalist Perspective of the Family

E. Durkheim – “Education can be conceived as the socialization of the younger generation. It is a continuous effort to impose on the child ways of seeing, feeling and acting which he could not arrived at spontaneously.”

John J. Macionis – “Education is the social institution through which society provides its members with important knowledge, including basic facts, jobs, skills & cultural norms & values .”

As a social institution, education helps to socialize children and young adults by teaching them the norms, values, and beliefs of their culture. It also transmits cultural heritage from one generation to the next. Education also provides people with the skills and knowledge they need to function in society.

Education may also help to reduce crime rates by providing people with alternatives to criminal activity. These are the “manifest” or openly stated functions and intended goals of education as a social institution (Meyer, 1977).

Education, sociologists have argued, also has a number of latent, or hidden and unstated functions. This can include courtship, the development of social networks, improving the ability for students to work in groups, the creation of a generation gap, and political and social integration (Little & McGivern, 2020).

Although every country in the world is equipped with some form of education system, these systems, as well as the values and teaching philosophies of those who run the systems, vary greatly. Generally, a country”s wealth is directly proportional to the quality of its educational system.

For example, in poor countries, education may be seen as a luxury that only the wealthy can afford, while in rich countries, education is more accessible to a wider range of people.

This is because, in poorer countries, money is often spent on more pressing needs such as food and shelter, diminishing financial and time investments in education (Little & McGivern, 2016).

Religion is another social institution that plays a significant role in society. It is an organized system of beliefs and practices designed to fill the human need for meaning and purpose (Durkheim, 1915).

According to Durkheim, “Religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden.”

According to Ogburn, “Religion is an attitude towards superhuman powers.”

Religion can be used to instill moral values and socialize individuals into a community. Religion plays a significant role in shaping the way people view themselves and the world around them.

It can provide comfort and security to those in need. Large religions may also provide a basis for community support, establishing institutions of their own, such as hospitals and schools.

Additionally, it can be used as a form of political control or as a source of conflict. Different sociologists have commented on the broad-scale societal effects of religion.

Max Weber , for example, believed that religion could be a force for social change, while Karl Marx viewed religion as a tool used by capitalist societies to perpetuate inequality (Little & McGivern, 2016).

The government is another social institution that plays a vital role in society. It is responsible for maintaining order, protecting citizens from harm, and providing for the common good.

The government does this through various sub-institutions and agencies, such as the police, the military, and the courts. These legal institutions regulate society and prevent crime by enforcing laws and policies.

The government also provides social services, such as education and healthcare, ensuring the general welfare of a country or region”s citizens (Little & McGivern, 2016).

The economy is a social institution that is responsible for the production and distribution of goods and services. It is also responsible for the exchange of money and other resources.

The economy is often divided into three sectors: the primary sector, the secondary sector, and the tertiary sector (Little & McGivern, 2016).

The primary sector includes all industries that are concerned with the extraction and production of natural resources, such as agriculture, forestry, fishing, and mining.

The secondary sector includes all industries that are concerned with the processing of raw materials into finished products, such as manufacturing and construction.

The tertiary sector includes all industries that provide services to individuals and businesses, such as education, healthcare, and tourism (Little & McGivern, 2016).

Barnes, H. E. (1942). Social institutions.  New York , 29.

Bogardus, E. S. (1922).  A history of social thought . University of Southern California Press.

Bogardus, E. S. (1960).  development of social thought .

Durkheim, E. (2006).  Durkheim: Essays on morals and education  (Vol. 1). Taylor & Francis.

Durkheim, E. (2016). The elementary forms of religious life. In  Social Theory Re-Wired  (pp. 52-67). Routledge.

Little, W., McGivern, R., & Kerins, N. (2016).  Introduction to sociology-2nd Canadian edition . BC Campus.

Macionis, J. J., & Plummer, K. (2005).  Sociology: A global introduction . Pearson Education.

Meyer, J. W. (1977). The effects of education as an institution .  American Journal of Sociology ,  83 (1), 55-77.

Ogburn, W. F. (1937). The influence of inventions on American social institutions in the future.  American Journal of Sociology ,  43 (3), 365-376.

Miller, S. (2007). Social institutions In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Schotter, A. (2008). The economic theory of social institutions.  Cambridge Books .

Weber, M. (1936). Social actions .

What are Social Institutions in Sociology?

In sociology, social institutions are established norms and subsystems that support each society’s survival. These institutions are a key part of the structure of society. They include the family, education, religion, and economic and political institutions.

These institutions are not just physical structures or organizations but also the norms and rules that govern our behavior and attitudes, shaping our social interactions and society at large.

What is the role of a social institution?

Each social institution serves a specific role and function in society, and they work together to maintain the overall stability and survival of society.

For instance, the family institution is responsible for societal roles related to birth, upbringing, and socialization. The educational institution imparts knowledge and skills to individuals so they can contribute productively to society.

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Semantic definitions at the entity

IfcUnitAssignment indicates a set of units which may be assigned. Within an IfcUnitAssigment each unit definition shall be unique; that is, there shall be no redundant unit definitions for the same unit type such as length unit or area unit. For currencies, there shall be only a single IfcMonetaryUnit within an IfcUnitAssignment .

NOTE  A IfcProject has a unit assignment which establishes a set of units which will be used globally within the project, if not otherwise defined. Other objects may have local unit assignments if there is a requirement for them to make use of units which do not fall within the project unit assignment.
HISTORY  New entity in IFC1.5.1.

Inherited definitions from supertypes

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Formal representations

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Home » News » Inmate Work Assignments in Federal Prison

Inmate Work Assignments in Federal Prison

  • September 20, 2017

By Christopher Zoukis Inmate employment is a requirement within the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Except for those inmates who have been designated medically unable to work by Health Services or Psychology Services, all federal prisoners must maintain some form of employment throughout their incarceration. While most inmates will work within the confines of a federal prison, some minimum security inmates housed at Federal Prison Camps are permitted to obtain employment in neighboring communities as part of their release preparation programming. The types of work assignments available to federal inmates vary widely, and individuals can often find a position that suits their abilities, training, and ambition. Pay is based on a pay-grade scale and depends on a number of factors, including duties, longevity, and performance. Performance bonuses are sometimes awarded. Inmate pay rates are generally non-standardized for specific jobs throughout the federal prison system and wages are nominal for the most part, though some inmates are able to secure positions and pay grades which provide income sufficient for their individual needs. Generally speaking, most federal inmates can expect to earn between $10 and $25 per month, with the lower end of this scale being far more common. The Inmate Performance Pay grade scale specifies the following rates for the respective pay grades: -Grade 1: $0.40 per hour -Grade 2: $0.29 per hour -Grade 3: $0.17 per hour -Grade 4: $0.12 per hour Maintenance Pay: $5.25 per month Inmates employed by UNICOR (see below) are paid an hourly rate according to the following general UNICOR pay scale : -Grade 1: $1.15 per hour -Grade 2: $0.92 per hour -Grade 3: $0.69 per hour -Grade 4: $0.46 per hour -Grade 5: $0.23 per hour Federal prisons rely heavily on inmate labor to operate under normal conditions and inmate employment opportunities are similar at most institutions. The exceptions are those facilities which offer UNICOR (also known as Federal Prison Industries, Inc.) jobs, or those which provide specialized services, such as Federal Medical Centers (FMCs) and other specialized facilities, where inmates may also fill assorted factory or work cadre positions. The following is a list of inmate work assignments typical to all federal prisons, with a general description of corresponding work details.

Facilities Department

The Facilities Department encompasses an assortment of maintenance-related shops. These often include the Electrical Shop, HVAC Shop, Plumbing Shop, Paint Shop, Maintenance Shop, and Landscaping/Grounds Crew. Within these various specialty shops inmate technicians fulfill the various department missions under the supervision of a staff foreman. There are usually a few clerks over the whole Facilities Department who handle work orders, scheduling and assigning of the various shops, as well as clerical duties.

Food Service

The Food Service Department is comprised of a variety of separate work details to facilitate all aspects of feeding the institution’s inmate and staff populations. Inmates are regularly assigned as orderlies, sanitation workers, and/or assistants in the following areas: Warehouse, Meat/Vegetable Preparation, Dish Room, Dining Room, Officer’s Mess, Salad Bar, and Spoon Room. Positions are also available as cooks, bakers, line preparation, and line servers. New arrivals are typically assigned to a Food Service work detail until they can obtain more desirable prison employment.

Education Department

The Education Department usually includes a leisure and law library, as well as various classrooms and possibly areas for DVD viewing. Inmate work assignments commonly include librarians, orderlies, tutors, and Adult Continuing Education instructors (ACE). The more educated inmates who enjoy teaching tend to seek out employment in the Education Department.

Recreation Department

The Recreation Department often includes a hobby craft program (e.g., painting, leathercraft, art, beading, etc.), music program, various sports programs, and other activities. Available job assignments may include orderlies, equipment room assistants, referees and umpires, and instructors. Most federal prison Recreation Departments offer a number of “no-show” jobs, where inmates are paid very little, but generally don’t have to show up to work or might only have to sign a sign-in list, but can then leave.

Commissary Department

The commissary is the prison’s store and employs inmate clerks. Inmates on this work detail are responsible for stocking and inventorying merchandise, filling inmate orders, updating “out-of-stock” lists, cleaning, and performing other commissary-related duties. Inmates are not permitted to perform cashier/check-out person functions. These are fulfilled by prison staff members. Federal prison commissaries typically employ a small number of inmates who are paid well, but who have to put in long, stressful hours stocking shelves and filling inmate orders.

Laundry Services

Laundry Services employs general laundry workers who may also perform clothing alterations, mending, and other laundry-related tasks. The primary duties of inmates assigned to the Laundry Services work detail are the collection, washing, drying, and return of inmate clothing. Much like commissary, the few inmates assigned to this work detail must put in long hours, but are also paid well and have certain fringe benefits.

Compound Department

The compound is the central grounds of the prison containing walkways on which inmates travel to and from destinations such as the Recreation Department, Education Department , Religious Services, Commissary Department, Psychology Services , and other areas of the prison. Compound work details usually include clerks (who are responsible for handling inmate pay sheets, safety notification sheets, sanitary equipment check-out, and other inmate clerk duties) and orderlies (who are typically responsible for trash pick-up and general compound sanitation). Compound Departments also have specialized work details depending on the season and the prison’s location. For example, a prison with a large bird population may employ a pigeon sanitation crew with scrub brushes and scrubs waste left by birds on the sidewalks. The snow crew, which clears the walkways of snow, is another example. The compound work detail also may include a large number of “no-show” jobs, where inmates do not have to show up to work or only have to sign their name on a sign-in sheet and then leave.

Safety Department

The Safety Department handles the institution’s recycling, the distribution of chemicals used for cleaning and sanitation, and the distribution of other unit orderly supplies such as toilet paper, paper towels, and other items. Work details within the Safety Department include various orderly and clerk positions.

Religious Services

Federal prison chapels normally offer various chapel orderly positions. These orderlies handle everything from janitorial tasks to setting up and assisting with actual services. Orderlies also assist fellow inmates with checking out books from the chapel library, signing up for special classes or religious programs, and placing religious Special Purchase Orders (SPOs).

The prison Barbershop usually employs a number of inmate barbers who both cut hair and also clean their work areas.

Housing Units

Each inmate housing unit employs a substantial number of inmate orderlies who perform general janitorial duties, including sweeping and mopping floors, cleaning showers, collecting trash and recycling, and other such tasks.

Where available, UNICOR (which is also known as Federal Prison Industries, Inc.) factories use inmate labor to produce a variety of products, from prison uniforms to sensitive military electronics. Some UNICOR factories may employ inmates to perform services such as data entry or the sorting of clothes hangers for retail outlets such as Target. UNICOR is a government-owned corporation which secures contracts with a number of government and private sector sources, providing federal inmates with an assortment of factory- and service-related jobs.

Other Inmate Work Details

Other work details are commonly available at most federal prisons. For example, many inmate clerk and orderly positions, besides those mentioned above, are generally available in most departments, including Health Services , Psychology Services, Receiving & Discharge (R&D), and other departments. Administrative and correctional staff may also utilize inmate clerks and orderlies (e.g., Lieutenant’s Office orderly, Captain’s Office orderly, etc.). Also, in addition to regular work details, inmates at some institutions may be able to obtain various aide positions, such as assistant to a physically handicapped inmate (e.g., wheelchair pusher, etc.), mental health companion, and/or suicide watch volunteer.

Published Sep 20, 2017 by Christopher Zoukis, JD, MBA | Last Updated by Christopher Zoukis, JD, MBA on May 5, 2022 at 9:59 pm

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