January 24 , 2012
Groups and Organizations
• Study of Social Groups
• Social Networks
• Organizations and Bureaucracies
• Network Organizations
• Social Impact of Groups on Individuals
• Admin announcements re: Group Projects
The Bonds that Unite: Speaking of ‘We’
• This means looking at how individuals are brought together within larger configurations
of people. How does this occur, under what circumstances and with what effects?
• Another way of putting it is, who do we mean when we say ‘all of us’, ‘we demand’, and
‘we would agree’? Who is the 'we‘, and who is ‘we’ speaking for?
• It is the study of social groups that tries to understand this.
• Social groups are composed of a set of people who identify with one another, and
adhere to defined norms, roles, or statuses.
• Examples: Members of a family (tight-knit), sports team (loosely held), or college.
• There are different types of social groups:
- Primary vs. secondary.
- Communities, social networks, organizations.
Primary Groups and Secondary Groups • Primary groups: Groups where norms, roles, and statuses are agreed upon but not put
in writing. Social interaction leads to strong emotional ties, extends over long period, and
involves a wide range of activities.
• This results in group members knowing one another very well because there is
consistent face-to-face contact with every member.
• Example: The family (most important primary group).
• Secondary groups: Larger and more impersonal groups that involve social interaction in
a narrow range of activities over a shorter period of time. This creates weaker emotional
• The activity range is more narrow because usually the few activities serve the main
• Example: Sociology class, everyone is there to learn about sociology. Sports team,
everyone is there because they are also on the team.
Inclusion and Exclusion: In-Groups and Out-Groups
• In-group members: Those who belong to a group.
• Out-group members: Those who are excluded from an in-group.
• In-group members typically draw a boundary separating themselves from members of
the out-group. They also try to keep out-group members from crossing the line.
• Some examples of boundaries separating groups are: Race, class, athletic ability,
academic talent, physical attractiveness.
• Boundaries can be strong, such as in family membership, or they can be loose, such as
in a video game group. Your family is your family and people cannot all of a sudden join
or leave, however if there is a group of students who like to play Angry Birds, some may
decide they don’t like it anymore, or others may decide they want to join whenever. The
boundaries are looser.
Supplemental: Social Groups Summary
• Communities – Built around interest
• Social Networks – Built around exchange
• Organizations – Task-oriented, defined by the tasks
Communities: Characteristics • A community is a collection of people, who are not clearly defined or circumscribed, but
who agree to something that other people reject and bestow an authority upon those
• A collection of people who agree on something on some level can form a community.
• Strongest communities appear natural (such as family).
• The bonds that unite are at their strongest when taken-for-granted, when they remain
• You have this membership and no one argues/questions your membership (ex.
Types of Communities
• Some communities allude to ‘common blood’, hereditary character, timeless link with a
‘land’ – communities we are born into.
• Others are communities we have chosen, communities of aspirations (The harder it is to
get into a particular community, the higher the demand for uniformity for its members
and the higher prestige that position holds).
• Social network: A bounded set of individuals who are linked by exchange of material or
• Patterns of exchange determine boundaries of the network.
• Members exchange resources more frequently with one another than with nonmembers,
and also think of themselves as network members.
• Who you exchange with, material or emotional, determines who is in your network.
• This means that there are efficiencies of social networks but also limits.
• Social networks may be formal (defined in writing), but are more often informal (defined
only in practice).
Old Forms of Social Networks
• Old forms of social networks are elaborate social networks in big cities.
• Example: 1997 study found each Torontonian has an average of about 400 social ties,
including immediate and extended kin, neighbours, friends, and co-workers.
• Networks also shape scientific influence because scientists in social networks tend to
share similar scientific beliefs and are thus more open to some influences than others.
Things move much more quickly through associates vs. a stranger. • In the 1980s, HIV/AIDS disease did not spread uniformly throughout community. Rather,
disease spread along friendship and acquaintanceship networks of people first exposed
New Forms of Social Networks
• Advances in technology have brought a whole new set of social networks built through
the medium of the internet. In the cases below, it is important to ask who is using them;
because age matters depending on which website is being referred to.
• MySpace – founded in 2003, blog, music, comments (ranked 163rd in Canada – 41 two
years ago). MySpace had a quick up-rise, but then within a matter of two years, fell back
• Facebook – founded in 2004, pictures, status updates, (2 most visited website in
Canada behind only Google).
• Twitter – founded in 2006, status updates, linking stories and videos, trending topics
(ranked 8 in Canada, 2 most used social network site – 10 in Canada two years
• Linkedln – founded in 2003, professional networking, online resume (ranked 10 in
Canada – 21 two years ago). This website is geared to an older crowd as it is a career-
• Communities pursuing defined tasks are otherwise called purpose groups or
• Organizations have organizational rules members must follow.
• Individuals have different ‘roles’ to play within organizations.
• The boundaries of purpose groups are not loose. You are a member of that purpose
group because of the skills you can bring to the table.
• Organizations are specialized according to the tasks they perform and so, therefore, are
their members, who are recruited according to skills and attributes that they possess in
terms of fulfilling the organization's goals.
Organizations: A Definition
• Formal organizations: Large, secondary groups organized to achieve their goals
• Some examples are business corporations, government agencies, non-governmental
organizations and coercive organizations.
Three Types of Formal Organizations • Etzioni (1975) identified three types of formal organizations, distinguished by the
reasons people participate in them:
1. Utilitarian Organizations
2. Normative Organizations
3. Coercive Organizations
• Just about everyone who works for a paycheque belongs to a utilitarian organization,
one that pays people for their efforts. They assume that you will leave if they don’t pay
• Example: businesses, government, etc
• Exchanging your time, skills and know-how for money.
• People join normative organizations not for income but to pursue some goal they think is
• Sometimes called voluntary associations, these include community service groups, as
well as religious organizations.
• It is based on the belief in an organization’s mission statement and values.
• You do get paid, however not as much.
Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)
• NGOs: Non-for-profit organizations that operate independently from any government.
They advocate for some social aim and are more normative in nature.
• This does not mean that the organization is not receiving pay/funding. It simply means
that the goals/missions are not set out by the government.
• Lobby groups are defined by their activity (lobbying). They are much closer to the
political process, and more utilitarian in nature. They are not a non-governmental
organization because they are being paid to lobby. Ex. This year we are being paid to
lobby…. And next year we will be paid to lobby…
• Coercive organizations have involuntary memberships. People are forced to join these
organizations as forms of punishment (i.e. prisons) or treatment (i.e. psychiatric
• Coercive organizations have security measures to keep people in and isolate them from
the rest of society. • You cannot choose to leave, and you do not choose to be there.
• The most common and efficient form of organization is the bureaucracy.
• Bureaucracy: A large, impersonal organization with many clearly defined positions
hierarchically arranged, a permanent, salaried staff of qualified experts, and written
goals, rules, and procedures.
• The bigger the bureaucracy and the more people that are involved, the more rules there
are and the more detail that is put into it.
Weber’s Characteristics of Bureaucracies
1. Division of Labor
2. Hierarchy of Authority
3. Rules and Regulations
4. Qualification-Based Employment
The Three Leadership Cycles
• Laissez-faire: Allows subordinates to work things out on their own, with almost no
• Authoritarian: Demands strict compliance from subordinates. It is very effective in a
crisis and earns grudging respect but never wins popularity.
• Democratic: Democratic has more guidance than laissez-faire and more autonomy than
authoritarian. It has inclusion in decision making and a wide distribution of decision-
making authority. It is usually the most effective except in cases of crisis.
• Bureaucracy splits tasks into simple and elementary activities.
• An ideal bureaucracy operates as a perfect meritocracy.
• Information flows from lower rungs of the hierarchy towards the higher rungs.
• Everyone’s decisions must be subordinated to the overall goals of the organization.
• Everyone works together.
Drawbacks of Bureaucracies
• Inefficiency and Rigidity.
• Resistance to Change/does not adapt well. •