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organization (social organization)

Definition of Organization

(noun) A formal, goal-orientated group with members and a defined structure, governed by rules and procedures that guide operation.

Types of Organization

Organization Pronunciation

Pronunciation Usage Guide

Syllabification: or·gan·i·za·tion

Audio Pronunciation

– American English
– British English

Phonetic Spelling

  • American English – /orguh-nuh-zAY-shuhn/
  • British English – /awguh-nie-zAY-shuhn/

International Phonetic Alphabet

  • American English – /ˌɔrɡənəˈzeɪʃ(ə)n/
  • British English – /ˌɔːɡənʌɪˈzeɪʃn/

Usage Notes

  • Plural: organizations
  • The terms “organization” and “social organization” are used interchangeably in a sociological context.
  • Variant spelling: organisation

Related Quotations

  • Bureaucracies generally reward compliance, not defiance. In bureaucratic settings, one does not typically advance by being the defiant, rugged, and fiercely independent individualist of American folklore, but by going along to get along, being a team player, following the rules and procedures, and slowly climbing the bureaucratic ladder one step at a time” (McNamee and Miller 2013:171–72).
  • “Some bureaucracies perpetuate inequalities of race, class, and gender because this form of organizational structure creates a specific type of work or learning environment. This structure was typically created for middle- and upper-middle-class white men, who for many years were the predominant organizational participants” (Kendall 2011:194).
  • “The development of the modern form of organization of corporate groups in all fields is nothing less than identical with the development and continued spread of bureaucratic administration. This is true of church and state, of armies, political parties, economic enterprises, organizations to promote all kinds of causes, private associations, clubs, and many others. Its development is, to take the most striking case, the most crucial phenomenon of the modern Western state” (Weber 1947:337).

Related Video

Additional Information

Related Terms


Kendall, Diana. 2011. Sociology in Our Times. 8th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

McNamee, Stephen J., and Robert K. Miller, Jr. 2013. The Meritocracy Myth. 3rd ed. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Weber, Max. [1922] 1947. The Theory of Social and Economic Organization. Translated by A. M. Henderson and T. Parsons. New York: Oxford University Press.

Works Consulted

Abercrombie, Nicholas, Stephen Hill, and Bryan Turner. 2006. The Penguin Dictionary of Sociology. 5th ed. London: Penguin.

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. 5th ed. 2011. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Andersen, Margaret L., and Howard Francis Taylor. 2011. Sociology: The Essentials. 6th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Bruce, Steve, and Steven Yearley. 2006. The SAGE Dictionary of Sociology. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

Collins English Dictionary: Complete and Unabridged. 6th ed. 2003. Glasgow, Scotland: Collins.

Giddens, Anthony, and Philip W. Sutton. 2014. Essential Concepts in Sociology. Cambridge: Polity.

Kimmel, Michael S., and Amy Aronson. 2012. Sociology Now. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Kornblum, William. 2008. Sociology in a Changing World. 8th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Merriam-Webster. (N.d.) Merriam-Webster Dictionary. (http://www.merriam-webster.com/).

Oxford University Press. (N.d.) Oxford Dictionaries. (https://www.oxforddictionaries.com/).

Shepard, Jon M. 2010. Sociology. 11th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Shepard, Jon M., and Robert W. Greene. 2003. Sociology and You. New York: Glencoe.

Stewart, Paul, and Johan Zaaiman, eds. 2015. Sociology: A Concise South African Introduction. Cape Town: Juta.

Stolley, Kathy S. 2005. The Basics of Sociology. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Wikipedia contributors. (N.d.) Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation. (https://en.wikipedia.org/).

Cite the Definition of Organization

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “organization.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved April 22, 2024 (https://sociologydictionary.org/organization/).

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

organization. (2013). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/organization/

Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “organization.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed April 22, 2024. https://sociologydictionary.org/organization/.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“organization.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 22 Apr. 2024. <https://sociologydictionary.org/organization/>.