Sororities as a Social Institution

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When one first thinks of Greek life or a sorority the only thing that comes to mind is the social aspect. Most people don’t think of sororities as social institutions that envelop their own culture, with mannerisms, languages and customs that are unique to each individual organization. However, these institutions promote a common set of values that enable members to become connected in a way that has a more profound meaning than just social interaction. Greek organizations are good examples of how institutions can affect and be affected by social status and roles within the collegiate community. They are also a prime example of how race, class and gender can affect a social setting in both positive and negative manners. Greek organizations started in the mid to late 19th century as groups of collegiate students who wanted to expand discussions from the classroom into a broader spectrum of topics and discuss their opinions freely without the guidance of the professors. Thus, students began forming the first literary and debating organizations. They used the Greek alphabet as names to designate the different core values that each of the organizations held. With the support of some universities these societies began to grow into complex groups that depended on one another for much more than just stimulating discussion. Although intellect remained the prominent feature, by the end of the nineteenth century Greek organizations began hosting parties, events and dances. From there they developed into what we know Sororities and Fraternities as today. Culture by definition is the set of shared attitudes, values, goals and practices, as well as customary beliefs, social forms and material traits that characterize a racial, religious or ... ... middle of paper ... ...oking at social institutions with their own culture, they are a prime example of just that. Sororities have developed their own language, gestures, values, customs, traditions, and rules. New members complete a process in which they are taught this culture and its initiated members live by these standards and participate in society accordingly. Sororities are often faced with class and race inequalities, as most are seen as expensive and exclusive, with the majority of members falling in the Caucasian, upper class. They can also influence social roles and social statuses within the campus environment depending on the amount of presence Greek life has on campus. Sororities are a group of women who are connected by a unique culture and participate within society according to the standards and expectations of their organization, much like any racial or religious group.

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