Institutions as Ideas
Institutions defined most generally are essentially ideas. They are big ideas, ideas that are persistent and which have a profound effect on the populations that evolve, and adopt, the ideas. Examples of powerful institutions – therefore powerful ideas – are easy to find: markets, state constitutions, legal systems, systems of governance, and so on. The institution called democracy is also an idea. The instantiation of an idea — its embodiment or implementation or incarnation – varies from place to place, and from time to time. How an institution is implemented depends on, among other things, preferences of the population and on the available technology. As tastes and technologies change, institutions can be implemented differently, and generally they are more efficiently implemented as time goes by.