Groups and Organizations
Sociology, 13h Edition by John Macionis
Copyright © 2010 Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
Social Group
Two or more people who identify and interact with one
• Not every collection of individuals forms a group.
• Many people with a status in common–women,
homeowners, soldiers, millionaires, college
graduates, and Roman Catholics–are not groups,
but categories, because of limited interactions.
Not Quite a Social Group
• Crowd
– Temporary cluster of people created by an event
– A group can have temporal status
• A crowd can become a group, then a
crowd again.
– A large gathering of people at a football game
– A crowd that begins to riot might be considered a
group because of their purposeful interaction.
Primary Groups
Small social groups whose members share personal, lasting
• Traits
– Small: friends, family
– Personal orientation
– Enduring
• Primary relationships
– First group experienced in life
– Irreplaceable
• Assistance of all kinds
– Emotional to financial
Secondary Groups
A large, impersonal social group whose members
pursue a specific goal or activity.
• Traits
– Large membership
– Goal or activity orientation
– Formal and polite
• Secondary relationships
– Weak emotional ties
– Short term, goal directed
• Examples
– Co-workers and political organizations
Summing Up
Primary Groups and Secondary Groups
Group Leadership
• Two roles
– Instrumental: Task-oriented
– Expressive: People-oriented
instrumental and expressive are also used to define gender; Ch.13
• Three leadership styles
– Authoritarian: Leader makes decisions; Compliance
from members
– Democratic: Member involvement
– Laissez-faire: Mainly let group function on its own
Group Conformity Studies
• Asch’s research page 164
– Willingness to compromise our own
– Line experiment
• Milgram’s research page 165
– Role authority plays
– Following orders
• Janis’s research
page 165
– Negative side of groupthink
– “the tendency of group members to conform,
resulting in a narrow view” consequences?
Figure 7.1
Cards Used in Asch’s Experiment in Group Conformity
In Asch’s experiment, subjects were asked to match the line on Card 1 to one of the lines on Card 2. Many subjects agreed with the wrong answers given by
others in their group.
Source: Asch (1952).
Reference Group
A social group that serves as a point of reference in
making evaluations and decisions about where
resources go, and who gets rewarded and punished
• Stouffer’s research
page 166
– We compare ourselves in relation to
specific reference groups.
• In-groups and out-groups
– Loyalty to in-group
– Opposition to out-groups
Group Size
• The dyad
– A two-member group
– Very intimate, but unstable given its size
• The triad
– A three-member group
– More stable than a dyad and more types
of interaction are possible
Figure 7.2
Group Size and Relationships
As the number of people in a group increases, the number of relationships that link them increases much faster. By the time six or seven people
share a conversation, the group usually divides into two. Why are relationships in smaller groups typically more intense?
Source: Created by the author.
Social Diversity:
Race, Class, and Gender
• Large and homogenous groups turn inward.
– Members have relationships between themselves.
• Heterogeneous groups turn outward.
– Diverse membership promotes interaction with
• Physical boundaries create social boundaries.
– If segregation of groups takes place, the chances for
contact are limited.
• Networks
– “Web of weak social ties”; people we know of or who
know of us
Global Map 7.1
Internet Users in Global Perspective
Formal Organizations
Large secondary groups organized to achieve goals
efficiently; date back thousands of years.
• Utilitarian
– Material rewards for members (functional-conflict)
• Normative
– Voluntary organizations
– Ties to personal morality
• Coercive
– Punishment or treatment
– Total institutions (functional-conflict)
Summing Up
Small Groups and Formal Organizations
An organizational model rationally designed to perform tasks
• Max Weber’s six elements to promote
organizational efficiency:
Specialization of duties
Hierarchy of offices
Rules and regulations
Technical competence
Formal, written communications
Organizational Environment
• Factors outside an organization that affect its
– Economic and political trends
– Current events
– Populations patterns
– Other organizations
• Informal side of bureaucracy
– In part, informality comes from the
personalities of organizational leaders.
Problems of Bureaucracies
• Bureaucratic alienation
– Potential to dehumanize individuals
• Bureaucratic inefficiency and ritualism (irony)
– Preoccupation with rules, interferes with meeting goals
• Bureaucratic inertia
– Perpetuation of the organization becomes more important
than the goals and the purpose for it’s existence
Oligarchy: The rule of the many by the few
• Helps distance officials from the public.
• Michels: Concentrates power and threatens democracy page 174
The Evolution of Formal Organizations
Scientific Management
Application of scientific principles to the
operation of a business or large
1. Identify tasks and time needed for tasks
2. Analyze to perform tasks more efficiently
3. Provide incentives for worker efficiency
Whose interests are being served???
New Challenges
to Formal Organizations
• Race and gender
– Pattern of exclusion
– “Female advantage”
• Japanese organizations
– Value cooperation
– Organizational loyalty
• Changing nature of work
– Information-based organizations
– Creative autonomy, competitive work teams,
flatter organization, and greater flexibility
Figure 7.3
U.S. Managers in Private
Industry by Race, Sex, and
Ethnicity, 2005
Figure 7.4
Two Organizational Models
The conventional model of bureaucratic organizations has a pyramid shape, with a clear chain of command. Orders flow from the top down, and reports of
performance flow from the bottom up. Such organizations have extensive rules and regulations, and their workers have highly specialized jobs. More open
and flexible organizations have a flatter shape, more like a football. With fewer levels in the hierarchy, responsibility for generating ideas and making
decisions is shared throughout the organization. Many workers do their jobs in teams and have a broad knowledge of the entire organization’s operation.
Source: Created by the author.
McDonaldization of Society
Efficiency: Do it quickly
Predictability: Use set formulas
Uniformity: Leave nothing to chance
Control: Humans are most unreliable factor
Each principle limits human creativity, choice, and
Weber: Rational systems are efficient but
Future of Organizations:
Opposing Trends
• Movement toward more creative freedom
for highly skilled information workers
• Movement toward increased supervision and
discipline for less skilled service workers
Class Activity
• Group 1: Explain behaviors on an
elevator; group or crowd?
• Group 2: How can we make this
classroom more efficient? Is that a good
thing, or just more drifting toward
• Group 3: After considering the
differences between the American and
Japanese models of automobile
manufacturing (pages 176-7) , which is best
and why?