Primary and Secondary Groups Groups, Categories, and Aggregates • A group consists of at least two people who share one or more goals and think, feel, and behave in similar ways. • Members of a group are in regular contact with one another and take one another’s behavior into account. • Groups play important roles in the lives of their members, as well as influencing society. • Groups range from small and informal to large and formal and tend to create insiders and outsiders. • A group is not the same as a social category (people who share a social characteristic) or a social aggregate (people who happen to be in the same place at the same time).
Primary and Secondary Groups Primary Groups • A primary group is composed of people who are emotionally close, know one another well, and seek one another’s company. • They are characterized by primary relationships that are intimate, personal, caring, and fulfilling, and members feel responsible for one another. • They are the most important setting for socializing. • Conditions that help primary groups and primary relationships form include small group size, face-to-face contact, continuous contact, and the proper social environment. • Primary groups serve three important functions in society: emotional support, socialization, and encouragement of conformity.
Primary and Secondary Groups Secondary Groups • A secondary group is impersonal, goal oriented, and exists to accomplish a specific purpose. • Members’ responsibilities involve making contributions toward the group’s goal, but those contributions only affect a limited segment of members’ lives. • Members of secondary groups interact impersonally in secondary relationships. • Although primary relationships are more likely to occur in primary groups and secondary relationships in secondary groups, many secondary groups include some primary relationships.
Other Groups and Networks Reference Groups • People use reference groups to evaluate themselves and to acquire attitudes, values, beliefs, norms, and mores. • A person may consider a group to be a reference group without being a member. • Reference groups do not have to be positive models since observing the behavior of a group you dislike may reinforce a desire to act and feel differently. • An in-group requires extreme loyalty from its members. The in-group competes with and is opposed to an out-group. • In-groups must have boundaries to tell who is and is not “in.” Maintaining group boundaries requires intense loyalty and commitment from members.
Other Groups and Networks Social Networks • All relationships make up a person’s social network, which is the web of social relationships that join a person to other people and groups. • The Internet has expanded interaction and the flow of information within networks. • A social network is not a group because it lacks the boundaries of a group, and it does not involve close or continuous interaction among all members. • Since social networks include both primary and secondary groups, the social relationships within a network involve both strong and weak ties. • Social networks can provide a sense of belonging and purpose, furnish support in the form of help and advice, and be a tool for entering the labor market.
Types of Social Interaction Cooperation • Cooperation is a form of interaction in which individuals or groups combine their efforts to reach a goal. • Cooperation often occurs during a crisis when the single goal is physical survival or meeting basic physical needs. • Non-crisis examples of cooperation include establishing rules for recreational games, sharing the duties within a family, or working with a group to complete a task. • Without some degree of cooperation, social life could not exist.
Types of Social Interaction Conflict • In conflict, defeating the opponent is considered essential. • Although conflict is usually considered disruptive, it can be beneficial, depending on how it is handled. • Positive ways to handle conflict include persuasion, compromise, debate, and negotiation; these techniques allow each side to gain something from the conflict rather than having only a single winner. • One of the major benefits of conflict is the promotion of cooperation and unity within opposing groups. • Another positive effect of conflict is the attention it draws to social inequities, causing norms, beliefs, and values to be reexamined and even changed.
Types of Social Interaction Social Exchange • Social exchange is a type of social interaction in which one person voluntarily does something for another with the expectation of a reward in return. • With cooperation, individuals or a group work together to achieve a shared goal, while in social exchange the goal may be less important than the benefits to those involved. • Exchange relationships are often apparent in political and legislative maneuvering. • A common Latin phrase describing this type of exchange behavior is quid pro quo, or “this for that.”
Types of Social Interaction Coercion • Coercion is social interaction in which individuals or groups impose their will on other individuals or groups. • Coercion is the opposite of social exchange. • Whereas social exchange involves voluntary actions for mutual benefit, coercion is a one-way street. • Social exchange occurs between groups or individuals roughly equal in power, while in coercion, one party is clearly dominant. • Conflict theory best describes this type of social interaction.
Types of Social Interaction Conformity • Conformity is behavior that matches group expectations. It is an expectation of socialization since social life could not exist without conformity. • Groupthink exists when thinking in the group is self-deceptive, based on conformity to group beliefs, and created by group pressure. • In groupthink, pressures of uniformity discourage members from expressing their concerns. • Research shows that groupthink can be avoided when leaders or group members make sure everyone participates in the discussion and when members know that disagreement will be tolerated. • The “bystander effect” is when people in groups are hesitant to react differently than others.
Formal Organizations The Nature of Formal Organizations • A formal organization is deliberately created to achieve one or more long-term goals. • Formal organizations include educational institutions, business entities, government agencies, medical groups, religious bodies, political organizations, and fraternal societies and social clubs. • To manage their affairs, most formal organizations today are also bureaucracies, which are formal organizations based on rationality and efficiency.
Formal Organizations Major Characteristics of Bureaucracies • One characteristic of a bureaucracy is that it has a division of labor based on the principle of specialization. • Bureaucracies also have a hierarchy of authority structured like a pyramid, with the greatest amount of authority given to a few positions at the top. • Bureaucracies also have a system of rules and procedures. • Bureaucracies maintain written records of work and activities. • Bureaucracies promote workers on the basis of merit and qualifications rather than on favoritism.
Formal Organizations Max Weber and Bureaucracy • Weber feared the dehumanizing effects of bureaucracies, but as the values of preindustrial societies began to weaken, he also saw advantages to them. • A fast-moving industrial economy required steadiness, precision, continuity, speed, efficiency, and minimum cost, which are all advantages a bureaucracy could offer. • Bureaucracies reflect the mind-set of rationalization, which emphasizes knowledge, reason, and planning over tradition and superstition. • Although people often complain about the failings of bureaucracies, they are designed to protect individuals from arbitrary, illogical decision making, and favoritism.
Formal Organizations Informal Structures Within Organizations • Primary relationships emerge as part of informal organizations, or groups within a formal organization in which personal relationships are guided by norms, rituals, and sentiments that are not part of the formal organization. • Informal groups exist to meet needs ignored by the formal organization. • Informal groups offer personal affection, support, humor, and protection. • Informal organizations encourage conformity, but the resulting solidarity protects group members from mistreatment by those outside the group.
Formal Organizations Iron Law of Oligarchy • Individuals or smaller groups must exercise power for an organization to achieve its goals and sometimes this power may be grabbed by individuals for their own purposes. • The iron law of oligarchy states that power tends to become more and more concentrated in the hands of fewer members of any organization. • The first organizational factor that encourages oligarchy is that organizations need a hierarchy of authority to delegate decision making. • The second factor is that the advantages held by those at the top allow them to consolidate their power. • Finally, members of an organization tend to submit or defer to leaders.