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Society the basics by John Macionis - Chapter 5 Sociology: Groups and Organizations (Class SOCI 101 - Eastern Washington)

Social group

two or more people who identify with and interact with one another
Example: Your Family, your friends, Church, Work, etc.


Groupings based on common properties.
Example: Sex and Race


Large groups of people who share attitudes and a group identity.
Example: Football fan at a football game.

Primary group

a small social group whose members share personal and lasting relationships, tightly Integrated. Members view each other as unique and irreplaceable
Example: Family, Best Friends.

Secondary group

A large and impersonal social group whose members pursue a specific goal or activity.
Passage of time can transform a group from secondary to primary
Members do not think of themselves as "we"
Example: College Class

Instrumental leadership

Group leadership that focuses on the completion of tasks (1st of two types of leadership) it's all about getting the job done. They tend to have more formal relationships with others.

Expressive leadership

Group leadership that focuses on the group's well-being. (2nd of two types of leadership) It's more about taking care of the group. They tend to have more personal relationships.

Authoritarian leadership Style

focuses on instrumental concerns, takes personal charge of decision making, and demands strict compliance from subordinates.

Democratic leadership Style

is more expressive and tries to include everyone in the decision-making process.

Laissez-faire leadership Style

Allows the group to function more or less
on its own.

Group Conformity

Groups influence the behavior of their members, often promoting conformity.

Asch's Research on Group Conformity

His showed that many of us are willing to compromise our own judgment and to avoid being different, even from people we do not know.
Example: length of a line study.

Milgram's Research on Group Conformity

His research into obedience suggests that people are likely to follow directions from not only "legitimate authority figures," even when it means inflicting harm on another person.

Janis's Research on Group Conformity

what he called "groupthink", the tendency of group members to conform by adopting a narrow view of some issue.


The tendency of group members to conform, resulting in a narrow view of some issue
Note: this can cause devastating outcomes of their own.
Example: The decision to invade Iraq base on faulty information about weapons of mass destruction.

Reference group

A social group that serves as a point of reference in making evaluations and decisions. Used to access our own attitudes and behaviors
Example: Work Mentor, Family, and Friends.

Stouffer's Research around Reference group

showed that we do not make judgments about ourselves in isolation, nor do we compare ourselves with just anyone.
Example: The military study on who was most likely to be promoted?

In- group

A social group toward which a member feels respect and loyalty
Example: your Political Party, your School, your Fraternity, even your job, like Apple vs. PC.

Out- group

A social group toward which a member feels a sense of competition or opposition. Based on the idea that we have valued traits that they lack.
Example: the other political party, schools, school groups, and PC's vs. Apple.


A social group with 2 members.
• Social interaction is more intense then in larger groups
• Unstable. If either member withdraws, the group collapses.
Example: Husband and Wife, Two Best Friends.


A social group with 3 members
• More stable
• If one person leaves the group still survives.
• It's possible that two members become more intimate and we have the saying "two's company, three's a crowd"

Beyond Triad

Groups with more then 3 members.
• As they grow beyond 3, they become more stable & capable of withstanding the loss of one or more members.
• Reduces intense interaction
• Based less on personal attachments and more on formal rules and regulations

Peter Blau

Social Diversity of Race, Class, and Gender.
He claimed larger groups turn inward, socially diverse groups turn outward, and physically segregated groups turn inward

Social Diversity of Race, Class, and Gender

Race, Class, and Gender each play a part in group dynamics in three ways.
1. Large groups turn inward.
2. Heterogeneous groups turn outward.
3. Physical boundaries foster social boundaries.

Large groups turn inward

The larger a group, the more likely members will maintain relationships only with other group members.
- Peter Blau 1977
Example: China Town, Group at a University that are of the same Nationality.

Heterogeneous groups turn outward

The more internally heterogeneous a group, the more likely that its members will interact with outsiders.
- Peter Blau 1977


Consisting of elements that are not of the same kind or nature. Composed of unlike parts; different; diverse

Physical boundaries foster social boundaries

Physical space affects the chances of contacts among groups.
- Peter Blau 1977
Example: Having your own Dorm or eating area.


A web of weak social ties.
A network is a "fuzzy" group. Some networks come close to being groups. Network ties often give us the sense that we live in a "small world." Network ties may be weak, but they can be a powerful resource. Some people have denser networks than others. Gender also shapes networks. The Internet is a very important global network. This can also be when who you know is more valuable then what you know.
Example: FaceBook Friends, Apple Coworkers in a district or state

Formal organization

a large secondary group organized to achieve its goals efficiently
• Differ in their impersonality and formally planned atmosphere
• They date back thousands of years.
• The efficiency of early organizations was limited. People lacked the technology to travel over large distances, to communicate quickly, and to collect and store information on a large scale.

Amitai Etzioni

Identified the three types of formal organizations on the basis of purpose of participation (normative, coercive, and utilitarian organizations)

Utilitarian Organizations

An organization that people join in pursuit of material rewards. Pays people for their effort; joining is a matter of individual choice
Example: A Job

Normative Organizations

An organization that people Join that have voluntary associations, in which people pursue goals they consider morally worthwhile.
Example: Church or Charity Orginizations

Coercive Organizations

Organizations that have involuntary membership; people are forced to join as a form of punishment (prisoners) or treatment (patients)

Max Weber

German sociologist that regarded the development of rational social orders as humanity's greatest achievement. Saw bureaucratization (the process whereby labor is divided into an organized community and individuals acquire a sense of personal identity by finding roles for themselves in large systems) as the driving force in modern society.


values and beliefs passed from generation to generation


a way of thinking that emphasizes deliberate, matter-of-fact calculation of the most efficient way to accomplish a particular task

Organizational Society

an urban-industrial society characterized by the presences of large-scale bureaucratic organizations

Rationalization of society

Max Weber's term for the historical change form tradition to rationality as the main type of human thought. This lays the groundwork for the organizational structure called bureaucracy.


An organized model rationally designed to perform tasks efficiently
• Officials regularly create and revise policy to increase efficiency

Characteristics of Bureaucracy

Max Weber identified six key elements of the ideal bureaucratic organization:
1. specialization
2. hierarchy of offices
3. rules and regulations
4. technical competence
5. impersonality
6. formal, written communications


The development of skills in a specific kind of work.

Hierarchy of offices

The term to describe how bureaucracies arrange personnel so that everyone is supervised by a "higher-up" while also supervising others

Rules and regulations

Rationally enacted rules and regulations guide a bureaucracy's operation. Ideally, a bureaucracy seeks to operate in a completely predictable way.

Technical competence

The term to describe how bureaucracies expect officials to be able to carry out their official duties; bureaucracies regularly monitor the performance of their staff members.


Bureaucratic element of impersonal approach that puts rules ahead of personal whim so clients and workers are all treated the same way. From this impersonal approach comes the commonplace image of that "Faceless Bureaucrat."

Formal, written communications

Bureaucratic element of the paperwork depending on formal, written memos and reports accumulating in vast files.

Organization Environment

A range of factors outside an organization that affect its operation, including:
1. Technology
2. Economic and political trends
3. Current events
4. Population patterns, available work force
5. Other organizations


Copiers, Telephones, and Computer equipment

Economic and political trends

Economic growth or recession and changes in laws such as new environmental standards.

Current events

rise in energy prices. transferred leadership in congress.

Population patterns, available work force

Average age, Level of education, social diversity, and size of local communities.

Other organizations

The competition and organization representing a group.

The Informal Side of Bureaucracy

• In real-life organizations, humans are creative enough to resist bureaucratic regulation.
• Informality might cut corners but also provides the flexibility necessary for change.
• Informality comes from the varying personalities of organizational leaders.

Problems of Bureaucracy

bureaucratic alienation, bureaucratic inefficiency & ritualism, bureaucratic interia, oligrachy

Bureaucratic Alienation

dehumanize the people it is supposed to serve. The process of reducing the human being to "a small cog in a ceaselessly moving mechanism"

Bureaucratic Inefficiency and ritualism

A focus on rules and regulations to the point of undermining an organization's goals. "Red Tape"
Example: government response to the hurricane disaster of 2005. How they had to spend time taking equal opportunity and sexual harassment lectures before they could go save lives.

Bureaucratic inertia

the tendency of bureaucratic organizations to perpetuate themselves. Max Weber put it "Once fully established, bureaucracy is among the social structures which are hardest to destroy"
Example: US Department of Agriculture still has offices in nearly every county in all fifty states in when one in seven has any working farms.


the rule of the many by the few. he "iron law of oligarchy" refers to the pyramid shape of bureaucracy placing a few leaders in charge of organizational resources.

The Evolution of Formal Organizations

Problems of bureaucracy stem from two organizational traits:
- Hierarchy
- Rigidity
Bureaucracy is a top-down system
- Rules and regulations are made at the top
- Guide every part of people's work down the
chain of command

Frederick Taylor

American mechanical engineer, who wanted to improve industrial efficiency. He is known as the father of scientific management, and was one of the first management consultants

Scientific management

Frederick Taylor's term for the application of scientific principles to the operation of a business or other large organization.
It involves three steps:
1. Managers observe the tasks performed by the workers, identify operations involved, and measure the time needed for each.
2. Managers analyze their data to discover ways for workers to become more efficient.
3. Management provides guidance and incentives to increase efficiency.

The First Challenge with the Evolution of Formal Organizations: Race and Gender

During the 1960s, big businesses were inefficient and unfair in their hiring practices.
1. Patterns of Privilege and Exclusion
By the end of the twentieth century, white men in the United States still held 63 percent of management jobs.
2. The "Female Advantage"
Women bring a "female advantage" to companies striving to be more flexible and democratic.

The Second Challenge with the Evolution of Formal Organizations: The Japanese Work Organization

Formal organizations in Japan are like very large primary groups. Ouchi highlights five differences between formal organizations in Japan and in the United States: hiring and advancement, lifetime security, holistic involvement, broad-based training, and collective decision making.

William Ouchi

developed managerial approach that is a combination of American and Japanese managerial theories

The Third Challenge with the Evolution of Formal Organizations: The Changing Nature of Work

There are several ways in which today's formal organizations differ from those of a century ago:
1. creative freedom
2. competitive work teams
3. a flatter organization: from pyramid to football
4. greater flexibility

Creative freedom

today's organization treat employees with information age skills as a vital resources, and cannot dictate how a worker accomplish tasks that require imagination and discovery

Competitive work teams

Many organization allow several groups of employees to work on a problem and offer the greatest rewards to the group that comes up with the best solution. the Japanese use this-encourage cooperation

A flatter organization

By spreading responsibility for creative problem solving throughout the workforce, organizations take a flatter shape.

Greater flexibility

More open and flexible organization that both generates new ideas and adapts quickly to the rapidly changing global marketplace.

The "McDonaldization" of Society

• The organizational principles that underlie the McDonald's restaurant chain are coming to dominate our entire society.
• Aspects of life are modeled on the restaurant chain
Includes four principles:
1. efficiency
2. predictability
3. uniformity
4. control


the use of resources in such a way as to maximize the output of goods and services


consistency, reliability, and dependability in a relationship


Having always the same form, manner, or degree; not varying or variable.


the activity of managing or exerting control over something

Ray Kroc

Milkshake salesman that turned a small eatery into the McDonalds mega-franchise

Can Rationality Be Irrational?

Rationality, although efficient, may also be highly dehumanizing.

The Future of Organizations: Opposing Trends

"Intelligent" organizations have become more productive than ever. The postindustrial economy has created many highly skilled jobs, more routine service jobs, and offers few of the benefits that today's highly skilled workers enjoy. Organizational "flexibility" that gives better-off workers more autonomy carries the threat of "downsizing" for rank-and-file employees.


Don't pay very well, low skills needed, no benefits given. Says they have created thousands of jobs, but these aren't necessarily the jobs people want

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