Great American Institutions

The tower of Big Ben, London.What constitutes a “great institution?” I guess the best definition of a great institution is something that is a “characteristic and persistent feature in social or national life or habits.” Back home I’d think the pub could be considered a great British institution, steak and kidney pudding, fish and chips, Big Ben, the Tower of London, Marks and Spencer, etc, etc …

Part of the joy of coming to live in a different country is discovering those things that represent the character, social history and traditional habits of a place. Something, that when you see it or hear of it you instantly recognise it, understand its significance and its place in the foundation of the culture in which it exists. If I said Statue of Liberty, Eiffel Tower, Buckingham Palace … these are all icons of national identity and as such you’d immediately have a sense of the history and social significance that each of these hold in the national identity of each country. They feature large in the collective consciousness. But there are other things, smaller things but no less significant or prominent in the collective consciousness and therefore worthy of inclusion in the category of ‘national institution’. Continue reading