Institutionalized

I’d like to conflate a few issues.

Watching Africa Uncensored “In Tribe we Trust” I am reminded of a conversation I once had where it was explained to me that tribe is an ideology. This makes sense. Close communities pass on lessons to their own on how to survive. An tale as old as time – literally. These lessons, become ways of thinking. Ideology is shaped.

In the same breath I am thinking about Institutions and institutional memory. The ways in which an institution (abstract) can remain rigid – despite changes in individuals.

A few definitions:

Institutional Memory: a collective set of facts, concepts, experiences and knowledge held by a group of people.

Ideology: a system of ideas and ideals, especially one which forms the basis of economic or political theory and policy.

This is what I’d like to conflate. What is institutional memory but ideology held in place by a concrete identity (brand/ company – whatever)? It might look like splitting hairs, but what happens if we look at tribe as an institution rather than an idea?

To see something as an institution is to give room to engage it as a concrete, rigid machine. It is to understand that it has been around for long and shaped and morphed itself to adapt to the environment around it. Ideas are subjective. Ideas can be wrong. Ideology can be discarded, debunked. Institutions are collections of ideas, tried and retried, sharpened and consolidated. Institutions create environments of their own. Create their own set of circumstances.

In seeing tribe as an institution – it can be easy to see how we are institutionalized.

How, living within these conflicting environments creates the mess that is now. And how we can begin to map our journey to our own freedoms rather than blindly taking the same steps around an issue without ever really engaging with it.

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