Total Institutions

Erving Goffman created the concept of total institution in his essay “On the Characteristics of Total Institutions” published in 1961 in Asylums. Total institutions are social hybrids, part residential community and part formal organization intended for the bureaucratic management of large groups of people. Goffman (1961) offers this definition:

A total institution may be defined as a place of residence and work where a large number of like-situated individuals, cut off from the wider society for an appreciable period of time, together lead an enclosed, formally administered round of life. (p. xiii)

Goffman provides this taxonomy of the five groups of total institutions:

Institutions that care for those who are incapable of caringfor themselves but are considered harmless—the blind, aged, orphaned, and indigentInstitutions that sequester groups who are ...
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