Ch. 7 Groups, Organizations, and Institutions
Groups • A key element of our social structure and much of our social interaction takes place within them. • All groups set boundaries to indicate who does and who does not belong.
Purpose of Groups • Structural functionalists: people form groups to meet their instrumental (or task-oriented) and expressive (or emotional) needs. • help members do jobs that are impossible or very difficult to do alone. • Conflict theorists: groups involve a series of power relationships whereby the needs of individual members may not be equally served. • Symbolic interactionists: group size influences interactions among members.
Primary groups • Small, personal groups • According to Charles H. Cooley, a primary group is a small group whose members engage in face‑to‑face, emotion‑based interactions over an extended period of time • The family is an example
Secondary groups • Larger, more specialized groups • Members have less personal and more formal, goal‑oriented relationships. • Usually limited period of time • i.e. girl guides or boy scouts, graduate school cohort
Who Belongs? • Ingroups are groups to which we belong and with which we identify, they provide us not only with a source of identity but with a point of reference. • Outgroup is a group to which a person does not belong and toward which the person may feel a sense of competitiveness or hostility
Reference Group • A group that strongly influences a person’s behaviour and social attitudes, regardless of whether that individual is an actual member. • Explains why our behaviour and attitudes sometimes differ from those of our membership groups • We may accept the values and norms of a group with which we identify rather than one to which we belong.
How do we belong? • Network is a web of social relationships that links one person with other people and, through them, additional people.
Research on networks • Research has shown that networks play a very important role in graduating students finding employment. • Milgram study (1967) found it took an average of six contacts to get letters to the intended recipient • A study of bridges (individuals who bridge very different social worlds), a type of network analysis, has important implications in many different fields, not the least of which is epidemiology (studies the spread of disease ie. HIV, SARS).
Dyads and Triads (Simmel) • Group boundaries may be formal, with clearly defined criteria for membership, or informal, as they are with friendship groups. • The size of a group is one of its most important features. • Dyads—groups composed of two members • Triads—groups of three
Conformity • In order to maintain ties with a group, many members are willing to conform to norms established and reinforced by group members • Asch Conformity Experiment • The power of “peer pressure” • Conformity can lead to harassment, and groupthink (Janis) • Examples of Reena Virk (1997) and Canadian Referendum (1995) in text
Other Examples of Conformity • Watch: • The Bystander Effect • The Waiting Room (exerpt) • Social media has had a profound impact on group conformity • Read How the Internet is Turning Us All into Mean Girls (Pringle 2017) and How Social Media is Blinding Us (Pringle 2016)
Social Impact of Conformity • Can undermine diversity • Large groups can become inwardly oriented – exclude those with differences or call for “assimilation” • For instance 2016 CBC/Angus Reid Poll found “68 per cent of Canadian respondents said minorities should be doing more to fit in with mainstream society instead of keeping their own customs and languages” • But, more diversity = outward orientation and inclusivity
Social Institutions • A set of organized beliefs and rules that establish how a society will attempt to meet its basic social needs • These are general norms set by the larger society to govern group and organizational “belongingness” • Some groups become “institutionalized” (i.e. family)
Five Essential Tasks of an Institution • 1. Replacing members (i.e. family and procreation) • 2. Teaching new members (i.e. in family). • 3. Producing, distributing, and consuming goods and services (i.e. the economy). • 4. Preserving order. • 5. Providing and maintaining sense of purpose
Structural Functionalist and Conflict Views • Structural Functionalist • Interrelated and interdependent • resist change • integrated, promote stability • Conflict • outcome and functioning of institutional structures is not necessarily efficient nor desirable. • Order is negotiated, but not all groups have equal footing
Formal Organizations • Highly structured groups for the purpose of completing certain tasks or achieving specific goals • Organized in an efficient manner • Basic structure will often remain unchanged for many years.
Bureaucracy (Max Weber) • A formal organization characterized by: • Hierarchical authority • Division of labour • Rules and regulations • Qualification-based (technical “competence”) employment • Impersonality in personnel relations and concerns • Formal communications
Informal Structure in Bureaucracy • Interactions which ignore, bypass, or do not correspond with the official rules and procedures of the bureaucracy • i.e. “the grapevine” • “work culture”
Shortcomings of Bureaucracy • Inefficiency and rigidity • Resistance to change • Perpetuation of ethnic, class, and gender inequalities • Institutional racism or sexism • Racism and sexism become systemic and entrenched into policies of large institutions or corporations
McDonaldization • Ritzer has identified four main elements: • Efficiency • Calculability • Predictability • Control
Alternative Forms of Bureaucratic Organization • “Humanized” bureaucracy • Japanese model of organization • Less hierarchy, joint responsibility and problem-solving, lifelong • The horizontal model • Read Why Google’s Workplaces Make Other Workers Envious • (CBC News Jan. 16, 2016)