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The Role Of Institutionalization In Cultural Persistence.

L. G. Zucker
Published 1977 · Sociology

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Traditional approaches to institutionalization do not provide an adequate explanation of clultural persistence. A much more adequate explanation can be found in the ethnomethodological approach to institutionalization, defining acts which are both objective (potentially repeatable by other actors without changing the meaning) and exterior (intersubjectively defined so that they can be viewed as part of external reality) as highly institutionalized. Three levels of institutionalization were created in the autokinetic situation to permit examination of the effects of institutionalization on three aspects of cultural persistence: generational uniformity of cultural understandings, maintenance of these understandings, and resistance of these understandings to change. Three separate experiments were conducted to examine these aspects of cultural persistence. Strong support was foundfor the predictions that the greater the degree of institutionalization, the greater the generational uniformity, maintenance, and resistance to change of cultural understandings. Implications of these findings for earlier approaches to institutionalization are discussed.
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