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Social Groups
Groups within Society
•Groups are the foundation of social life.
• Setting membership boundaries, choosing leaders,
fulfilling goals, and controlling members’ behavior.
Defining Groups
• Size
• Quality
• Four features:
– Interaction occurs between members
– Must possess a sense of common identity
• Aggregate
• Social categories
– People with a shared trait or status who do not interact with each other
Social Structure
• A dyad
• A triad
• Fifteen is the largest number that works well as a group.
• Interaction is not continuous; there are breaks.
• A formal group
• An informal group
Types of Groups
Primary Groups
•Fundamental in forming the social nature and
ideals of the individual
•Involves entire self of a member
Secondary Groups
•Involve only part of a member’s self
•Importance of person linked to his or her
Reference Groups
•A group with whom an individual identifies and
whose attitudes and values are adopted
In-Groups and Out-Groups
Electronic Communities
•Have arisen with arrival of internet
•Some reflect primary-group dynamics
Social Networks
•The web of relationships across groups that
occurs because of the many groups people
belong to
• Common among adolescents but can continue
in adulthood
Group Functions
– Use of uniforms, gestures, handshakes, or language
– Leaders influence the attitudes and opinions of others
– Instrumental leaders help find specific means that will help the group reach its
– Expressive leaders find ways to keep the group together and to maintain
– Set goals
– Assign tasks
– Make decisions
Formal Organizations
• Formal organizations are large, complex secondary groups that have been
established to achieve specific goals. Most are structured as bureaucracies
• A bureaucracy is a ranked authority structure that operates according to
specific rules and procedures.
Weber’s Model of Bureaucracies
– Work is divided among specialists.
– There are clear-cut lines of responsibility.
– Individuals are hired on the basis of tests, education, or experience.
– Workers are replaceable.
Weber’s Model of Bureaucracies
– There are objective rules that identify each person’s responsibilities.
– Lines of promotion reward loyalty with job security and seniority.
– Some, like voluntary associations, may vary with the abilities of
Informal Organizations
• Called “bureaucracy’s other face”
• First noted in study of Western Electric Company
• Conformity to the norm enforced through negative sanctions