As we consider animals within the context that sociologists call institutions, it would help to have a definition. In everyday language, people use that word in so many different ways that it can be hard to know exactly what it means. If you google institutions, you'll find at least two definitions at or near the top of the list. First, the word can refer to corporations and organizations of various kinds. Universities are often called institutions and fans of Harry Potter will know that the Durmstrang Institute is a Wizarding Academy. The use of the word can also refer to facilities that provide care for people with special needs. Examples includes psychiatric institutions, and residential institutions for senior citizens and the disabled. In this sense, placing a person in the care of such a facility involves institutionalizing them. Second, the word institutions can also refer to established customs or practices, such as the institution of marriage. People also use this sense of the word to describe a long association with a person or place. For example, a group of friends who meets each Friday for coffee over a long time would become something of an institution at the coffee shop. Although the concept of institutions is essential to sociology, sociologists also use the term to refer to a diverse array of phenomena. They've applied the label to the family, marriage and courtship, religion, the economy, school, sports, mental hospitals, political systems, taxation, and handshakes just to start the list. This variety of practices, rules, procedures, customs, and entities might initially seem to have little in common, but from a sociological point of view, they do have something in common. They are all collectively recognized beliefs, and ways of doing things. This is how we'll define institutions, as collectively recognize beliefs and ways of doing things. Institutions have tremendous power over people. We learn about them through socialization, they shape our actions and beliefs, present us with opportunities, and put some possibilities beyond our grasp. With this definition in mind, laboratory science is an institution. Science is guided by specific beliefs and ways of doing things. Think of the scientific method, for example. Experiments involve testing hypotheses in standardized ways so that the results can be replicated. The use of animal models is part of the established way of doing research. We'll examine the use of animals in laboratory science. After that, we'll look at agriculture as an institution. Again, we see collectively recognized beliefs and ways of doing things. We'll consider the controversial transformation of animals into livestock and meat. We'll also question the practice of using animals as food. Next, we focus on some of the roles of animals in sport and entertainment. Finally, we investigate two institutions dedicated to animal health and welfare, veterinary medicine, and animal shelters.