Sociology of Groups

Sociology Index

Sociology of Groups

Groups of ascription, those of affiliation, groups based on gender, social class, and race. Humans are adept at utilizing communication for self-expression and exchanging ideas. Humans create complex social structure composed of many cooperating and competing groups. Humans are social by nature. We must examine how people interact in group settings. Groups are an object of study not only for sociologists, but also for social psychologists, and those working on forms of demography and demographic diversity. Social phenomena is all about groups. Audiences, committees, gangs, juries, teams, and we even have terrorist groups.

According to Aristotle humans are social animals by nature. We spend much of our lives in the company of other people. Human infants also seem to be predisposed to form attachments to others and babies who are deprived of human contact have higher mortality rates. Status groups are determined by the distribution of social honor style of life is shared by a status group. Economic elements like similar class position does not necessitate similar status groups have contempt for the nouveau riche. Economic classes may be members of a same status group if they share the same specific style of life.

Sociology of Groups - Abstracts

The Sociology of Groups and the Economics of Incentives: Theory and Evidence on Compensation Systems - William E. Encinosa III, Martin Gaynor, James B. Rebitzer. Abstract - This paper incorporates the sociological concept of group norms' into an economic analysis of pay systems. We use a behavioral microeconomic model and a unique survey of medical groups to examine the theoretical and empirical relationship between group norms and incentive pay. Our findings suggest that, at least for medical groups, norms are binding constraints in the choice of pay practices.

Where the Action Is - Small Groups and Recent Developments in Sociological Theory
Brooke Harrington, Brown University, Gary Alan Fine, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL
Although small group research has been marginalized within sociology during the past decades, the authors argue that a focus on interaction arenas can contribute to a more complete analysis of social life. The authors draw on the perspective of sociological miniaturism to provide a model for cross-level research.

Status Groups and Collective Action - Barry Barnes,  Sociology, Vol. 26, No. 2,  (1992).
Max Weber's description of how status groups monopolise goods and opportunities is now widely used by sociological theory to understand the economic and political relationships between groups.

“Groups” and “Cultures” as Problems: A New Sociology of Knowledge, Calhoun C.
Source: International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society, Volume 11, Number 2, 1997

Short Note: The Sociology of Professional Groups, Julia Evetts, University of Nottingham
New Directions, Current Sociology, Vol. 54, No. 1, 133-143 (2006)
This article is not a critique of the Sciulli article (2005) but, instead, indicates some current and contemporary research questions about professionalism considered to be important to researchers in the field from North America, Europe and worldwide.

Coase Revisited: Business Groups in the Modern Economy, MARK GRANOVETTER
(Department of Sociology, Northwestern University Evanston, IL 60208–1330, USA)
Abstract: Ronald Coase's celebrated query as to why economic actors typically aggregate into entities called ‘firms’ rather than transacting as individuals in a market has engendered a vigorous stream of research.

Why So Social an Animal? - The Functions of Groups
Donelson R. Forsyth - Virginia Commonwealth University.
Man is by nature a social animal, and an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human. Society is something in nature that precedes the individual.

The Utility of Interdependence
Aristotle proclaimed that humans are social animals by nature. We seek solitude from time to time, but we spend much of our lives in the company of other people. In most situations and societies, humans tend toward sociality rather than isolation. What prompts us to join together with other members of our species?

Sociology studies human social interaction and the structure of groups. Sociologists examine systematically the ways people behave and arrange themselves in groups, and why they behave and organize the ways they do.

Sociology of Groups - Bibliography

Feldman, D.C. (1984), "The Development and Enforcement of Group Norms," Academy of Management Review, 9:47-53. Discusses how norms develop and why they are enforced.

French, J.R. and B. Raven (1968), "The Bases of Social Power," in Cartwright and Zander (Eds.), Group Dynamics, New York: Harper and Row, pp 259-269.- French and Raven delineate five types of power (referent, expert, reward, coercive and legitimate) and explore their dynamics.

Dentler, R.A. and Erikson, Kai (1959), "The Functions of Deviance in Groups," Social Problems, 7: 98-107. Drawing on examples from Quaker work groups and army squads, the authors show that groups actually need deviant behavior, and that it is often sustained rather than stamped out.

Turner, R. (1990), "Role Taking: Process Versus Conformity," in D. Brissett and C. Edgley (Eds.), Life as Theater: A Dramaturgical Sourcebook. New York: Aldine de Gruyter.

Erving Goffman,   (1990), "Role Distance, " in D. Brissett and C. Edgley (Eds.), Life as Theater: A Dramaturgical Sourcebook. New York: Aldine de Gruyter. This essay shows how individuals negotiate the transitions between "being themselves" and playing roles.

Deaux, Kay (1984), "From Individual Differences to Social Categories: Analysis of A Decade’s Research on Gender," American Psychologist, 39:105-116. Deaux argues that gender, rather than being an innate characteristic of human beings, is actually a kind of role or performance. As Gloria Steinem once said, "all women are female impersonators."

Mullen, Brian and Carolyn Copper (1994), "The Relation Between Group Cohesiveness and Performance: An Integration," Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 115: 210-227. This article shows that social cohesion and conformity are not necessary to group performance; in fact, groups can tolerate a great deal of difference, as long as members are all committed to the task.

Bray, R.M., D. Johnson and J.T. Chilstrom Jr. (1982), "Social Influence By Group Members with Minority Opinions: A Comparison of Hollander and Moscovici," Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 43: 78-88. This study compares the two dominant models of minority influence in groups, and finds that they apply differently for men and women.

Cialdini, Robert (1984), Influence: How and Why People Agree to Things, New York: Quill. This is a very accessible book on the social psychology of decision-making; Cialdini uses numerous real-world examples (like door-to-door sales) to illustrate theories.

Beach, Lee Roy (1997), The Psychology of Decision Making in Organizations, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 1997. A more thorough (but less accessible) review of the decision-making literature.

Janis, Irving (1980 [1971]), "Groupthink," in Harold Leavitt, Louis Pondy and David Boje (Eds.), Readings in Managerial Psychology 3rd Edition, Chicago: University of Chicago Press. A famous article on the way that group settings distort decision-making.

Williams, Katherine and Charles O’Reilly III (1998), "Demography and Diversity in Organizations: A Review of 40 Years of Research," Research in Organizational Behavior, 20: 77-140. This review summarizes the big, big picture in organizational demography, and the overall conclusion is not too optimistic.

Jackson, Susan, Karen May and Kristina Whitney (1995), "Understanding the Dynamics of Diversity in Decision Making Teams," in R. Guzzo and E. Salas (Eds.), Team Effectiveness and Decision Making in Organizations, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. This review article looks generally at the diversity dynamic in teams.

Elsass, Priscilla and Laura Graves (1997), "Demographic Diversity in Decision-Making Groups: The Experiences of Women and People of Color," Academy of Management Review, 22: 946-973. This article links gender and race diversity in task groups to the expectation status literature we read September 25.

Martin, Karin (1998), "Becoming A Gendered Body: Practices of Preschools," American Sociological Review, 63: 494-511. This study of pre-schools examines how the power of the situation affects the expression of masculine and feminine traits in schoolchildren, consider how these same processes may affect adults in other organizations.

Pugh, M.D. and Ralph Wahrman (1983), "Neutralizing Sexism in Mixed-Sex Groups: Do Women Have to Be Better Than Men?," American Journal of Sociology, 88: 746-762. Like Izraeli, Pugh and Wahrman examine the asymmetry in men's in women's experiences in task groups, this time in terms of competency expectations.

Ridgeway, Cecilia (1997), "Interaction and the Conservation of Gender Inequality: Considering Employment," American Sociological Review 62: 218-235. A theoretical piece on a subject that is usually treated from a macro-structural point of view: gender discrimination in employment.

Hechter, Michael (1987), Principles of Group Solidarity, Berkeley: University of California Press. This is a slightly different take on the same issues reviewed by Olson, with a stronger cognitive focus; Hechter looks at how groups maintain and control membership through a series of rational incentives and punishments.

Useem, Michael (1984), The Inner Circle, New York: Oxford University Press, Chapters 1-5. This study of British and American corporate elites shows how overlapping networks (through boards of directors, social clubs, and schools) among executives create a powerful basis for collective action by corporations.

Hirsch, Eric, (1990),"Sacrifice for the Cause: Group Processes, Recruitment and Commitment in a Student Social Movement," American Sociological Review, 55: 243-254. Hirsch is interested in why people risk their safety for a cause, not just one time, but over and over again.

Morris, Aldon (1981), "Black Southern Sit-In Movement: An Analysis of Internal Organization," American Sociological Review 46: 744-767. Morris argues that the civil rights movement was based not on spontaneous collective action but on prior networks established through the black church and college organizations.

David Emile Durkheim (1915), The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life, New York: Free Press. In this sociological classic, Durkheim looks at religious culture among the Maori of Australia, and famously argues that in worshipping gods, society is really worshipping itself.

Schwartz, Barry (1967), "The Social Psychology of the Gift," American Journal of Sociology, 73:1-11. Schwartz's subject is the creation of gift culture, as in holidays or special occasions, and the implications of gift-giving for defining group boundaries.

Kunda, Gideon (1991), Engineering Culture: Control and Commitment in a High-Tech Corporation, Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
Kunda's study of a high-technology firm proves that "geeks" do have a culture, and that it is very important in defining and motivating work groups.

Katz, Jack (1996), "Families and Funny Mirrors: A Study of the Social Construction and Personal Embodiment of Humor, A classic example of small group research in the symbolic interactionism tradition.

Haney, Craig, Curtis Banks and Philip Zimbardo, "Interpersonal dynamics in a simulated prison, " International Journal of Criminology and Penology, 1: 69-97.
This is one of the most famous empirical tudies in social science. By turning ordinary college students into brutal prison guards, it shows dramatically how most individual behavior is a matter of context rather than character.

Milgram, Stanley (1963), "Behavioral Study of Obedience, " Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 67: 371-378. Another of the most famous empirical studies in social science, with a similar theme: behavior is largely a matter of context rather than character.

Sherif, Muzafer (1958), "Superordinate Goals in the Reduction of Intergroup Conflict,"American Journal of Sociology
Finally, another classic, this time showing how conflict and cohesion between groups rather than individuals can be controlled by social structural context.

Sociology of Groups - Journals

Center for the Study of Group Processes - Current Research in Social Psychology (CRISP) is a peer reviewed, electronic journal covering all aspects of social psychology. Publication is sponsored by the Center for the Study of Group Processes at the University of Iowa which provides free access to its journal contents.

Journal for Specialists in Group Work - A Publication of the Association for Specialists in Group Work
Published in Association with: Association for Specialists in Group Work. - Description: The Journal for Specialists in Group Work leads the way in advancing theory and practice of work with groups.

An official publication of the Association for Specialists in Group Work, the Journal for Specialists in Group Work is an indispensable resource for both practitioners and educators working with groups in clinical, organizational, educational and community settings.

Sociology of Groups - Syllabus

Groups and Organizations - Brown University - Syllabus - Professor Brooke Harrington. This course surveys the role of groups in organizations.

Syllabus - Oregon State University
COURSE DESCRIPTION: The social group is one of the basic units of analysis in sociology. Surgical teams, families, combat units, living groups, and sport teams are examples of this most pervasive form of social organization.