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Principles of Sociology 7
Groups & Organizations
What Is – and Isn’t – a “Group”
• Typically, you probably use the word “group” to refer to
any collection of people – however, sociologically
speaking, the word has a more precise meaning.
• social group = any number of people who interact
regularly, share a sense of belonging, and mutually
depend on each other for something (“we”).
• aggregate = a number of people who happen to be in the
same place at the same time but share little else in
common (EX: audience at a movie).
• category = a number of people who may never have met
one another but share some characteristic (EX: “African
Americans”).
Types of Groups
• Cooley (1909):
– primary groups = smaller, more permanent groups
featuring face-to-face, emotion-based interactions
(EX: family).
– secondary groups = larger, often temporary, groups
characterized by impersonal, goal-oriented
interaction (EX: coworkers).
• Can become a primary group as intimacy level changes.
• Large secondary groups may contain many primary groups
(EX: a large church with many small groups).
Types of Groups
• Sumner (1906):
– in-groups = any groups or categories to which people feel they
belong and identify with.
– out-groups = any groups or categories to which people feel
they do NOT belong and do NOT identify with.
• These groups are defined with reference to the individual – an ‘in-
group’ for you may be an ‘out-group’ for another.
• These groups define boundaries.
• In-group members may develop consciousness of kind = commonalities
which they are aware of.
• Can be positive (social cohesion) or negative (racism, sexism, classism).
Types of Groups
• focus group = 10-15 people assembled by a researcher to
discuss a predetermined topic, such as a new product or a
community need.
• reference group = any groups that people use as a standard to
measure their own behavior, whether they are a member or
not.
– Can be the group’s purpose (EX: AA, Boy Scouts) or can be
indirect (EX: copying a punk rock group in order to fit in).
• coalitions = temporary or permanent alliances geared toward
a common goal.
The Purpose of Groups
• Structural-Functionalists:
– instrumental purposes = cooperative, task-oriented goals.
– expressive purposes = emotional needs (EX: needing support).
• Social Conflict: groups involve power relationships that
often feature inequality among the members.
• Symbolic Interactionists: the type of interaction within a
group depends on its size.
• Postmodernists: groups tend to be superficial in terms of
social relationships (EX: scripted interactions).
Group Characteristics & Dynamics
• Group Size:
–small groups = groups small enough for all
members to interact at the same time.
• Smaller groups tend to provide more
interaction and intimate community.
• dyad = two members
• triad = three members
Group Characteristics & Dynamics
• Group Leadership = the ability to influence the group.
– Leadership Functions:
• instrumental leadership = goal or task oriented.
• expressive leadership = provides emotional support for members.
– Leadership Styles:
• authoritarian leaders make all major group decisions and assign tasks
to members.
• democratic leaders encourage group discussion and decision making
through consensus building.
• laissez-faire leaders are only minimally involved in decision making and
encourage group members to make their own decisions.
Group Characteristics & Dynamics
• Group Conformity = maintaining or changing behavior in
accordance with group norms.
– Groups maintain considerable influence over our values, attitudes, and
behavior.
– Research has found such influence to be so strong that some group
members could influence others to pick clearly wrong answers (EX: the
lines on the cards in Asch’s study), or to commit acts clearly violating their
own values (EX: the willingness of Milgram’s subjects to administer what
they thought were deadly ‘shocks’ to helpless people).
– groupthink (Janis) = when group members arrive at a “consensus” that
certain individual members privately disagree with (i.e., going along with
the group).
Asch’s Cards
Asch (1955-56) had planted group members influence the real
members to choose lines 1 or 3 as the one matching the line in
the bottom card even though line 2 is clearly the matching line.
Irving Janis’ Concept of Groupthink
Diversity & Groups
• Social diversity influences intergroup contact
(Blau and colleagues).
– Large groups turn inward.
• Members have relationships between themselves.
– Heterogeneous groups turn outward.
• Diverse membership promotes interaction with outsiders.
– Physical boundaries create social boundaries.
• If segregation of groups takes place, the chances for
contact are limited.
Types of Formal Organizations
• normative organization = voluntarily joined to pursue a
common interest or gain personal satisfaction or
prestige from being a member.
– Also called voluntary organizations.
– EX: political parties; religious groups.
• coercive organization = an association people are forced
to join (EX: some of the total institutions discussed in
Chapter 5).
• utilitarian organization = one we voluntary join to be
provided with a material reward (EX: job).
Rationalization & Organizations
• Weber outlined the process of rationalization in
society (discussed in Chapter 4).
• This process created formal organizations as
machine-like replacements for traditional
organizations.
• Today, we largely live our lives with the type of
organization sketched out by Weber, a
rationalized form we call bureaucracies.
Bureaucracies
• bureaucracy = organization that uses rules and top-down
authority to achieve greater efficiency, predictability,
calculability, and control.
• the iron law of oligarchy = Michels (1911) believed that
bureaucratic leadership would tend to hold on to their power
and to reproduce themselves and end up producing a continual
rule by a few.
• The “iron cage”: refers to the fact that the bureaucracy is
simultaneously efficient and enslaving.
• Weber’s ideal type (abstract model) of bureaucracy specified six
characteristics [Recall Chapter 4].
Bureaucracies
• Weber’s Characteristics of Bureaucracy:
division of labor (tasks broken down to ensure efficiency)
hierarchy of authority (top-down authority structure = chain
of command)
rules/regulations (everything is ‘made official’ by being
written down in the right place by the right people)
qualification-based employment (hiring and firing based on
technical qualifications and policies)
impersonality (impersonal environment so that everyone is
treated the same)
efficiency
Bureaucracies
• Problems with Bureaucracy:
 Inefficiency & Rigidity:
goal displacement = ritualistically following the rules as an end in
themselves.
People hired and promoted based on personal relationships
Peter Principle = people are promoted to their level of incompetency
and then fired or demoted.
Stifled creativity & alienation (work is deskilling)
bureaucratic personality = workers more concerned with correct
procedures than with doing a job correctly.
 Resistance to Change & Perpetuation of the Organization
 Dehumanization of Individuals
Scientific Management
• scientific management (Taylor) =
scientific principles applied to the
operation of a business/large
organization.
– Steps:
• Identify tasks and time needed for tasks.
• Analyze to perform tasks more efficiently.
• Provide incentives for worker efficiency.
• The principles of scientific
management suggested that
workplace power should reside with
owners and executives, who have
historically paid little attention to the
ideas of their workers.
McDonaldization
• Contemporary Application of Weber:
–McDonaldization = an updated version of
Weber’s rationalization process that
produces bureaucratic forms.
• Efficiency (“uniformity”)
• Predictability
• Calculability (= quantity over quality)
• Control through non-human technologies
Changes in Information Age Jobs
• More creative freedom.
• More competitive work teams.
• The flattening out of organizational structure.
• Greater flexibility.
• The best of today's information age jobs—
including working at Google, the popular search
engine website—allow people lots of personal
freedom as long as they produce good ideas.
Organizations in the Future
• socially sustainable organizations = organizations taking into
account the social effects of organizational activities on workers
and others in the community, the nation, and globally.
• Globalization – creating both a rapidly changing world and
workplace – has created the need for the ability of technology to
perform flexible, mobile work anywhere in the world.
• Smart working is based on the assumption that innovation is
crucial and that organizational leaders must be able to use the
talents and energies of the people who work with them.
• There is movement toward more creative freedom for highly
skilled information workers, and toward increased supervision
and discipline for less skilled service workers.

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Week 13: Groups and Organizations

  • 1. Principles of Sociology 7 Groups & Organizations
  • 2. What Is – and Isn’t – a “Group” • Typically, you probably use the word “group” to refer to any collection of people – however, sociologically speaking, the word has a more precise meaning. • social group = any number of people who interact regularly, share a sense of belonging, and mutually depend on each other for something (“we”). • aggregate = a number of people who happen to be in the same place at the same time but share little else in common (EX: audience at a movie). • category = a number of people who may never have met one another but share some characteristic (EX: “African Americans”).
  • 3. Types of Groups • Cooley (1909): – primary groups = smaller, more permanent groups featuring face-to-face, emotion-based interactions (EX: family). – secondary groups = larger, often temporary, groups characterized by impersonal, goal-oriented interaction (EX: coworkers). • Can become a primary group as intimacy level changes. • Large secondary groups may contain many primary groups (EX: a large church with many small groups).
  • 4. Types of Groups • Sumner (1906): – in-groups = any groups or categories to which people feel they belong and identify with. – out-groups = any groups or categories to which people feel they do NOT belong and do NOT identify with. • These groups are defined with reference to the individual – an ‘in- group’ for you may be an ‘out-group’ for another. • These groups define boundaries. • In-group members may develop consciousness of kind = commonalities which they are aware of. • Can be positive (social cohesion) or negative (racism, sexism, classism).
  • 5. Types of Groups • focus group = 10-15 people assembled by a researcher to discuss a predetermined topic, such as a new product or a community need. • reference group = any groups that people use as a standard to measure their own behavior, whether they are a member or not. – Can be the group’s purpose (EX: AA, Boy Scouts) or can be indirect (EX: copying a punk rock group in order to fit in). • coalitions = temporary or permanent alliances geared toward a common goal.
  • 6. The Purpose of Groups • Structural-Functionalists: – instrumental purposes = cooperative, task-oriented goals. – expressive purposes = emotional needs (EX: needing support). • Social Conflict: groups involve power relationships that often feature inequality among the members. • Symbolic Interactionists: the type of interaction within a group depends on its size. • Postmodernists: groups tend to be superficial in terms of social relationships (EX: scripted interactions).
  • 7. Group Characteristics & Dynamics • Group Size: –small groups = groups small enough for all members to interact at the same time. • Smaller groups tend to provide more interaction and intimate community. • dyad = two members • triad = three members
  • 8. Group Characteristics & Dynamics • Group Leadership = the ability to influence the group. – Leadership Functions: • instrumental leadership = goal or task oriented. • expressive leadership = provides emotional support for members. – Leadership Styles: • authoritarian leaders make all major group decisions and assign tasks to members. • democratic leaders encourage group discussion and decision making through consensus building. • laissez-faire leaders are only minimally involved in decision making and encourage group members to make their own decisions.
  • 9. Group Characteristics & Dynamics • Group Conformity = maintaining or changing behavior in accordance with group norms. – Groups maintain considerable influence over our values, attitudes, and behavior. – Research has found such influence to be so strong that some group members could influence others to pick clearly wrong answers (EX: the lines on the cards in Asch’s study), or to commit acts clearly violating their own values (EX: the willingness of Milgram’s subjects to administer what they thought were deadly ‘shocks’ to helpless people). – groupthink (Janis) = when group members arrive at a “consensus” that certain individual members privately disagree with (i.e., going along with the group).
  • 10. Asch’s Cards Asch (1955-56) had planted group members influence the real members to choose lines 1 or 3 as the one matching the line in the bottom card even though line 2 is clearly the matching line.
  • 11. Irving Janis’ Concept of Groupthink
  • 12. Diversity & Groups • Social diversity influences intergroup contact (Blau and colleagues). – Large groups turn inward. • Members have relationships between themselves. – Heterogeneous groups turn outward. • Diverse membership promotes interaction with outsiders. – Physical boundaries create social boundaries. • If segregation of groups takes place, the chances for contact are limited.
  • 13. Types of Formal Organizations • normative organization = voluntarily joined to pursue a common interest or gain personal satisfaction or prestige from being a member. – Also called voluntary organizations. – EX: political parties; religious groups. • coercive organization = an association people are forced to join (EX: some of the total institutions discussed in Chapter 5). • utilitarian organization = one we voluntary join to be provided with a material reward (EX: job).
  • 14. Rationalization & Organizations • Weber outlined the process of rationalization in society (discussed in Chapter 4). • This process created formal organizations as machine-like replacements for traditional organizations. • Today, we largely live our lives with the type of organization sketched out by Weber, a rationalized form we call bureaucracies.
  • 15. Bureaucracies • bureaucracy = organization that uses rules and top-down authority to achieve greater efficiency, predictability, calculability, and control. • the iron law of oligarchy = Michels (1911) believed that bureaucratic leadership would tend to hold on to their power and to reproduce themselves and end up producing a continual rule by a few. • The “iron cage”: refers to the fact that the bureaucracy is simultaneously efficient and enslaving. • Weber’s ideal type (abstract model) of bureaucracy specified six characteristics [Recall Chapter 4].
  • 16. Bureaucracies • Weber’s Characteristics of Bureaucracy: division of labor (tasks broken down to ensure efficiency) hierarchy of authority (top-down authority structure = chain of command) rules/regulations (everything is ‘made official’ by being written down in the right place by the right people) qualification-based employment (hiring and firing based on technical qualifications and policies) impersonality (impersonal environment so that everyone is treated the same) efficiency
  • 17. Bureaucracies • Problems with Bureaucracy:  Inefficiency & Rigidity: goal displacement = ritualistically following the rules as an end in themselves. People hired and promoted based on personal relationships Peter Principle = people are promoted to their level of incompetency and then fired or demoted. Stifled creativity & alienation (work is deskilling) bureaucratic personality = workers more concerned with correct procedures than with doing a job correctly.  Resistance to Change & Perpetuation of the Organization  Dehumanization of Individuals
  • 18. Scientific Management • scientific management (Taylor) = scientific principles applied to the operation of a business/large organization. – Steps: • Identify tasks and time needed for tasks. • Analyze to perform tasks more efficiently. • Provide incentives for worker efficiency. • The principles of scientific management suggested that workplace power should reside with owners and executives, who have historically paid little attention to the ideas of their workers.
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  • 21. McDonaldization • Contemporary Application of Weber: –McDonaldization = an updated version of Weber’s rationalization process that produces bureaucratic forms. • Efficiency (“uniformity”) • Predictability • Calculability (= quantity over quality) • Control through non-human technologies
  • 22. Changes in Information Age Jobs • More creative freedom. • More competitive work teams. • The flattening out of organizational structure. • Greater flexibility. • The best of today's information age jobs— including working at Google, the popular search engine website—allow people lots of personal freedom as long as they produce good ideas.
  • 23. Organizations in the Future • socially sustainable organizations = organizations taking into account the social effects of organizational activities on workers and others in the community, the nation, and globally. • Globalization – creating both a rapidly changing world and workplace – has created the need for the ability of technology to perform flexible, mobile work anywhere in the world. • Smart working is based on the assumption that innovation is crucial and that organizational leaders must be able to use the talents and energies of the people who work with them. • There is movement toward more creative freedom for highly skilled information workers, and toward increased supervision and discipline for less skilled service workers.