1. The Real World
An Introduction to Sociology
Separate and Together: Life in Groups
2. What is a Group?
• Book Definition: a collection of people who
share some attribute, identify with one
another, and interact with each other.
• In other words…a group is a collection of
two or more people who:
– Interact frequently.
– Share a sense of belonging.
– Have a feeling of interdependence.
– Group membership has a profound effect on
3. Not Groups: Aggregates and
• Not every collection of people are considered
• Aggregates are people who happen to find
themselves in a particular physical location:
– Do not form long lasting social relations.
Examples: Airline passengers, shoppers,
waiting at a traffic light
• Categories share a similar characteristic
without any common sense of connection other
than their status in the category:
– Students, elderly, Native Americans
4. Primary and Secondary Groups
• Primary Group: the people who are most
important to our sense of self; members’
relationships are typically characterized by face-
to-face interaction, high levels of cooperation,
and intense feelings of belonging.
• Cooley introduced the term “primary” because
this group has the most profound effect on us;
– Emotional satisfaction, responsible for
socialization, and central to our identities.
5. Primary and Secondary Groups
• Secondary Group: larger and less intimate than
primary groups; members’ relationships are usually
organized around a specific goal and often
– Interaction tends to be more formal and
– Often organized around a specific activity or the
accomplishment of a task.
– Membership is often temporary
• Secondary group membership can generate
primary group ties as well.
6. Social Networks
• Social Network: the web of direct and
indirect ties connecting an individual to
other people who may also affect him or her.
– Social Ties: connections between
– Direct Ties: People you are connected to
without having to go through another
– Indirect Ties: Those connections that pass
through other people/places/things.
7. Social Networks
• Sociologists are concerned not only with
how networks are constructed but along
how influence moves along a network,
and thus, which persons or organizations
have more influence than others within
–Often times ideas and fads move this
8. Social Networks (cont’d)
• Research on social networks has shown
that indirect ties can as important as
–Jobs and Networks: “Its not what you
know, but who you know.”
• High Socioeconomic (SES) Status vs.
9. Separate from Groups: Anomie
• According to Durkheim, all the social
groups with which we are connected
provide norms that place limits on our
– Example: You might have wanted to go to
Cancun for senior trip, but your parents
wouldn’t let you go due to money and safety.
10. Separate from Groups: Anomie
• Durkheim argues that we need these limits –
otherwise, we would want many things we could
never have, and the lengths to which we would go
in search of our unattainable desires would be
boundless (pg. 145).
– Example: If you were always searching for
something and never getting it, you’d be very
– Durkheim called this state of “normlessness”
– Group membership keeps us from feeling it.
11. Separate from Groups: Anomie
• A concern is that society is becoming increasingly
fragmented, and as a result, anomie will increase
among the population.
• Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of
American Community (2001) by Robert Putnam
– Argues we no longer practice the same types of
“civic engagement” that builds democratic
– Criticisms: He disregards new ways of staying
connected. For example, the internet is
providing us a new set of resources to stay
12. Group Dynamics
• Group dynamics are the patterns of
interaction between groups and
• We are concerned with how groups form,
change, disintegrate, and achieve goals.
13. Group Characteristics and
• Theoretical Perspectives on the purpose of
groups: Why do we form groups?
– Functionalists – Groups serve
instrumental and expressive needs
– Conflict Theorists – Groups involve a
series of “power” relationships.
14. Group Dynamics: Group Size
• The size of a group affects how it
operates and the types of individual
relationships that can occur within it.
• According to Georg Simmel, small groups
have distinctive interaction patterns that
do not exist in larger groups.
15. Group Dynamics: Group Size
Group composed of two
• Most intimate of all groups.
• Most unstable of all groups.
Group composed of three
• More stable than a dyad.
• Coalitions are possible
16. Group Dynamics: Group Size
• The smaller a group is, the more likely it is
to be based on personal ties. As group
size increases, specialization occurs,
communication patterns change, and it
tends to be based on rules and
• The larger they get, the more impersonal
they become and leadership becomes
18. Group Dynamics: In-Groups/Out-
A group that one identifies with
and feels loyalty toward.
Any group an individual feels
opposition, rivalry, or hostility
• All groups set boundaries by
distinguishing between insiders who are
members and outsiders who are not.
• William Graham Sumner
19. Group Dynamics: In-Groups/Out-Groups
• Most of us are associated with a number of in-groups
and out-groups stemming from our ethnic, familial,
professional, or educational backgrounds.
• Advantage: Group Cohesion
• Disadvantages: Group Superiority
– Stereotypes can occur
– Robert Merton noted the phenomenon that the
same qualities or behaviors are viewed positively
when they are “ours” and negatively when they are
“theirs.” (Example: The party of a person who is
wealthy – “classy” vs. “snobby”)
– At the worst: slavery and genocide
20. Group Dynamics: Reference Group
• A group that provides a standard of
comparison against which we evaluate
• It may also be a group that we aspire to
belong. We may act more like members
of a group we want to join than members
of groups to which we already belong.
– In this case, reference groups are a source of
21. Group Cohesion
• A basic concept in the study of group
dynamics is group cohesion, the sense of
solidarity that members feel toward their
group. In other words: the force that
binds them together
– Example: team spirit
• The life of a group depends on at least a
minimum level of cohesion. If members
begin to lose their sense of commitment,
the group will gradually disintegrate.
• Whereas a high degree of
cohesion might seem desirable, it
can also lead to the kind of poor
• Irving Janus coined the term
• Groupthink: in very cohesive
groups, the tendency to enforce
a high degree of conformity
among members, creating a
demand for unanimous
• Although it can help maintain
solidarity, it can also short-circuit
the decision making process.
– Example: The space shuttle
Challenger accident in 1986
23. Social Influence (Peer Pressure)
• Social influence (peer pressure) is the
influence of one’s fellow group members
on individual attitudes and behaviors.
• Generally we conform to group norms
because we want to gain acceptance and
approval (positive sanctions) and avoid
rejection and disapproval (negative
sanctions). Three types of conformity:
24. Social Influence (Peer Pressure)
• Social influence can produce different
types of conformity depending on the
strength of the individual’s commitment
to the group.
• Compliance is the mildest form of
conformity and is done to gain reward or
– When you comply, you don’t actually change
your own ideas or beliefs
25. Social Influence (Peer Pressure)
• Identification is a type of conformity
(stronger than compliance and weaker
than internalization) caused by a desire to
establish or maintain a relationship with a
person or group.
26. Social Influence (Peer Pressure)
• Identification, a type of conformity stronger
than compliance and weaker than
internalization, caused by a desire to establish
or maintain a relationship with a person or
– Here you go a step further to fit in.
• Internalization, the strongest type of
conformity, occurs when an individual adopts
the beliefs or actions of a group and makes
them her own.
– Here, your beliefs actually change. You
believe in what you’re doing.
27. The Asch Experiment
• Solomon Asch (1958)
• He gathered groups of seven or eight
students to participate in what he called
“an experiment on visual perception.”
• Everyone in the group were actually
aware that this was an experiment on
conformity except one “real” subject.
28. The Asch Experiment
• Participants were asked to
look at sets of three straight
lines and to then match the
length of a fourth line to one
of the other three lines.
• When asked, the group who
knew the actual experiment
intentionally gave the wrong
• The purpose was to observe
what the “real” subject would
29. The Asch Experiment
• Most of the “real” subjects admitted to feeling
considerable pressure to comply with the rest
of the group. Many times they were distressed
at the discrepancy between their own
perceptions and those of the others.
• 33% yielded almost every round. 40% yielded
less frequently, but still gave wrong answers.
Only 25% actually gave independent answers.
• In more recent studies, compliance has
• Sociologists have studied teamwork to
determine whether groups are more efficient
• Researchers soon recognized that both the
nature of the task and the characteristics of the
group have an effect.
• Steiner (1972), compared potential productivity
to actual productivity. He found that actual
productivity can ever equal potential
productivity because there are always losses in
the team process.
• A group’s efficiency usually declines as its size
increases, because organizing takes time and
social loafing increases with group size.
– Social loafing is the phenomenon in which as more
individuals are added to a task, each individual
contributes a little less, a source of inefficiency when
working in teams. In other words, having “too many”
helpers can be a problem.
• A solution is to give rewards for individual
effort, however this is often difficult.
32. Group Leadership Functions
• Instrumental leadership is leadership that is
task or goal-oriented. An instrumental leader is
less concerned with people’s feelings than with
getting the job done.
– Instrumental leadership is most appropriate when
the group’s purpose is to complete a task or reach a
33. Group Leadership Functions
• An expressive leader is leadership concerned
with maintaining emotional and relational
harmony within the group. An expressive
leader demonstrates interest in group
members’ emotions as well as their
– Expressive leadership is most appropriate when the
group is dealing with emotional issues, and
harmony, solidarity, and high morale are needed.
34. Qualities of Leadership: Power,
Authority, and Style
• Effective group leaders possess a variety of
qualities, some of which are particular to the
kind of group they lead. Good leaders need to
know which style to use.
– Authoritarian leaders - often criticized for
fostering intergroup hostility.
– Democratic leaders - praised for supportive
behavior and blamed for being indecisive in a
– Laissez-faire leaders - do not provide active
35. Qualities of Leadership: Power,
Authority, and Style
• Power is the ability to control the actions
of others. Two types of power:
–coercive power is backed up by the
threat of force.
–influential power is supported by
36. Qualities of Leadership: Power, Authority,
and Style (cont’d)
• Max Weber identified three types of authority
found in social organizations.
– Traditional authority is authority based in
custom, birthright, or divine right, and
usually associated with monarchies and
– Legal-rational authority is authority based in
laws, rules, and procedures, not in the
lineage of any individual leader.
– Charismatic authority is based in the
perception of remarkable personal qualities
in a leader.
38. Formal Organizations
• A formal organization is a highly
structured secondary group formed for
the purpose of achieving specific goals in
the most efficient manner.
• Formal organizations are characterized by
• There are three types: normative,
39. Types of Formal Organizations
Organizations we join
voluntarily to pursue a common
interest or gain prestige.
Associations people are forced
to join. (Example: boot camps
Organizations we join
voluntarily when they can
provide us with a material
• A bureaucracy is a type of secondary
group designed to perform tasks
• Max Weber identified six characteristics
– 1. specialization, 2. technical competence,
3. hierarchy, 4. rules and regulations,
5. impersonality, and 6. formal written
43. Bureaucracy (cont’d)
• Although bureaucracies often seem heartless
and undemocratic, they are extremely efficient
and are responsible for providing many basic
• George Ritzer (1996) coined the term
McDonaldization to describe the spread of
bureaucratic rationalization and the
accompanying increases in efficiency and
– Rationalization is the implementation of formal
rules and regulations in order to work more
efficiently and without consideration of subjective or