Social organization (aka social structure) is a general term used in sociology to refer to formal or institutionalized (that is, established, regular, recurring) clusters of roles, statuses, and meanings in the form of norms, folkways and mores and arrangements for socialization of organization participants. In this sense, families, businesses, government agencies, peer groups, crowds, voluntary associations, political parties, churches, and social movements are all social organizations.
The term most frequently used for specific social structures or institutions like business firms, social services, or schools is formal organizations, bureaucracies or simply organizations. Such organizations typically have formal goals, objectives, or missions. Max Weber's theory of bureaucracy included the historical hypothesis of rationalization suggesting that over time most forms of organization tended toward formalization and rationalization.