Sociology Index

Sociology of Groups

Books on 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. Social organization is derived from group living.

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 - 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.