This chapter focuses on Goffman’s notion of total institutions, starting with a brief description of the context in which it was developed. The remainder of the chapter is divided into four main sections. The first and most extensive section discusses the definition of the concept and the various types of total institutions that Goffman mentioned. This includes highlighting some important distinctions that these types address, such as whether entry is coercive or voluntary and what consequences this has for how total institutions shape identities and what forms of control that are employed. The next two sections provide a discussion of the various applications of the concept and a review of different criticisms, both of the concept and its definition and of its scope and applicability relative to Goffman’s claims. The fourth section presents some of the ways in which the concept has been developed, including, for example, discussion of the notions of reinventive institution and total organization. The chapter ends with a conclusion.