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 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. While group norms matter, the patterns in the data suggest that they are not all that matters. Analysis of the preferences and activities of individual physicians indicate that factors highlighted by the economic theory of agency, notably income insurance and multi-task considerations, also shape pay policies. The conclusion we draw from these results is that the sociological concept of group norms augments rather than replaces more conventional economic analyses 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. Specifically, the authors examine three central domains of sociological analysis—culture, organizations, and the economy—to demonstrate how a focus on the mesolevel of analysis allows for a merging of macrosociology and microsociology. 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. However, it is rarely recognised that a problem of collective action must be solved if a status group is to operate in this way, that it is individually irrational for members of the group to support its monopolistic activities even if they profit from them. Once the collective action problem is recognised, it is immediately apparent that Weber's own account of the definitive features of a status group identifies precisely the means by which the problem is solved. Weber on the operation of status groups and Weber on their nature may then be fused into a single coherent and comprehensive account, an account of profound and far-reaching theoretical interest.

“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. The article begins by offering an alternative, more pragmatic, view of the definitional question and argues that most researchers have accepted definitional uncertainty and moved on. Current research questions include a reappraisal and reassessment of professionalism as a normative value – and a move away from market closure as the dominant paradigm. In addition, there are new directions in the analysis that focus on the discourse of professionalism as a mechanism for the control of work and workers.

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. This paper asks a parallel question: why is it that in all modern economies, firms themselves aggregate into larger entities, often more stable than any literature predicts, which are here referred to as ‘business groups’? After establishing some working definitions, and discussing the curious conjunction of empirical importance and analytical invisibility of business groups, an attempt is made to establish the most significant dimensions along which such groups vary. We end with some speculations on the role of these groups in economic development.

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. Anyone who either cannot lead the common life or is so self-sufficient as not to need to, and therefore does not partake of society, is either a beast or a god. . . . . . . . . . . . . Aristotle, 384-322 B.C.

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. Studies indicate that human infants seem to be predisposed to form strong attachments to others and babies who are deprived of close human contact have higher mortality rates. Even in adults, protracted periods of social isolation can be extremely disabling and we prefer the company of others when we feel threatened or distressed. People spend between 20% and 60% of their waking hours in the company of other people.
What prompts us to join together with other members of our species? A number of studies highlight the basic utility of groups: in groups individuals can secure advantages and avoid disadvantages that would plague the lone individual. Groups are supremely useful for their members, for they fulfill our most basic needs. Our studies of the utility of groups have focused on three basic areas: group membership and self-esteem, collective identity, and the overall functions of groups.

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. Introduction to Sociology is an entry-level course that examines the basic concepts, theories, applications, and issues of the field of sociology. Using an applied sociology approach, various theories of sociology are used to explain particular social human behavior in practical social settings. You should learn how sociology theory is used to explain a variety of social behaviors, and will understand another perspective with which to examine common social phenomena. You should learn about this discipline from an academic standpoint as well as from the practical perspective that you can use throughout your career.
As a background to Introduction of Sociology, you are aware that people normally form groups where they interact with each other, and those groups have some social organization which sociologists call social structure. People act differently when they are in a group than when they are alone, so the group behavior is unique. That behavior is also repetitive - people from the same background tend to do the same thing in the same situation. We tend to take the behavior and structure for granted, since we are part of the group, but our perspective is clouded by what we have been taught to believe. By systematically observing and analyzing both the group interactions and the group structures, sociologists can describe, explain, and interpret the group behavior patterns, and explain the influences of the social structure on that behavior. Professor Daddio SOCI 001-05 Introduction to Sociology.

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. This is a core area of knowledge in organization theory, but it also crosses disciplinary boundaries. Groups are an object of intense study not only for sociologists, but for social psychologists, and scholars working on gender and other forms of demographic diversity. As social beings, we all are immersed in group settings, at school, in the family, and at work. While the course focuses primarily on the literature of organizations, it will also develop skills in analyzing and writing about groups in many different settings.

Readings: The course has a heavy reading load, ranging from 200 to 300 pages per week. The required books for this course are available for purchase in the Brown Bookstore, and most are also on reserve at Rockefeller Library. The course reader is available at Jo-Art. Since the course is so reading-intensive, buying the books and reader are highly recommended.

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. The small group is respectively comprised of individuals, of selves, and in turn comprises larger organizations. It is within this most fundamental form of social interatcion that mind, self, and society, what we know, who we are, and the social worlds in which we live, find their origins and forms. What are the dynamics of small groups? How are individuals influenced by, and in turn, how do they reciprocally influence group process? Those are the essential questions of this course and its continuation-sequel "Applied Group Dynamics." While these courses are differentiated in catalogue listings they are intended as compliments to each other. Both are necessary to cover the several forms of group interaction, both simultaneously consider group interaction principles, research methods, and applications. It is strongly recommended that students plan on taking these as a sequence.

Introduction and course expectations. Definitions and theoretical perspectives. Group myths and realities. The contexts of group life: social change, modernity, and rationalization.
Discovery’ of group influence: The Hawthorne Experiments. The power of groups. Robber’s Cave to Lord of the Flies. Lord of the Flies (video, in-class, time permitting).
The self as social object; objects as social constructions.
Read: Goffman, Mead, Mehan and Wood. T.S.T.
Perception, attribution and social construction of reality. Projective techniques.
Read: Rosenhan. Draw-a-Map. Copy Machine Rumor.
Non-verbal communication. “Communication the Non-verbal Agenda” (30 min.).
Understanding Others. Different Dyads.
Territoriality. "Social Life of Small Urban Spaces" (Soc. 50 min.).
Ch. 12. In the Diplomatic Corps. Space management.
Attitude change through communication. Dissonance.
Read: Chs. 7, 8, 11, 14, 15; Festinger.
Forms of social influence in groups and organizations: facilitation, conformity, compliance, obedience. "Night and Fog" (Humanities Devel. 1955 30 min.).
Read: Chs. 6, 17. Simulation Survival Exercise.
Group and organizational structure and communication patterns.
Read: Chs. 10, 16; Weber, Merton. Group Composition and Problem Solving.
Leadership. “Leadership: Style or Circumstance” (27 min.).
Fly 'Um High.
Analyzing group communications and structure.
Ch. 9. Bales IPA.
Sociometrics. Sociometric Analysis.
Communication patterns in groups and organizations. Information and group structure.

SOCI 001-05 Introduction to Sociology Professor Daddio

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. You should learn how sociology theory is used to explain a variety of social behaviors, and will understand another perspective with which to examine common social phenomena.

People act differently when they are in a group than when they are alone, so the group behavior is unique. That behavior is also repetitive - people from the same background tend to do the same thing in the same situation. We tend to take the behavior and structure for granted, since we are part of the group, but our perspective is clouded by what we have been taught to believe. By systematically observing and analyzing both the group interactions and the group structures, sociologists can describe, explain, and interpret the group behavior patterns, and explain the influences of the social structure on that behavior.

Books On Sociology Of Groups

Social Groups in Action and Interaction Book by Charles Stangor

From Prejudice to Intergroup Emotions: Differentiated Reactions to Social Groups
Book by Diane M. Mackie, Eliot Smith

Making Societies : The Historical Construction of Our World Book by William G. Roy

Stereotypes as Explanations : The Formation of Meaningful Beliefs about Social Groups Book by Craig McGarty, Vincent Y. Yzerbyt, Russell Spears (Editors)

Groups, Teams, and Social Interaction: Theories and Applications Book by A. Paul Hare.