October 25 , 2012
Networks, Groups, & Organizations
Formal sociology (Simmel, Tönnies)
-Focus: forms of social relationships that underlie and are common to diverse areas of
social structure (i.e. diverse purposes of social action)
-Diad: social relationship between two nodes (individuals, groups, organizations).
-It requires intense involvement from both partners. Most often based on equality
-Triad: social relationship among three nodes
-New elements of social relationship: alliances, mediation, rivalry, etc. Importance of
Social networks – definition
-A set of ties between individuals (nodes), along which (social and material) resources are
-Types of ties: unidirectional, reciprocal, redundant, strong and weak.
-Granovetter: the “strength of weak ties” is in information flow.
-Personal social networks overlap: they are connected to each other (unlike groups,
networks have no clear identity and boundaries).
-Who is in your network?
-“Sociology proper”: unit of analysis is not an individual, but a social relationship
Social groups and categories – definitions
-Groups are sets of people that:
1. Engage in social interaction
2. Have a structure: statuses, roles (Tepperman: leadership)
3. Have common values and norms
4. Whose members are aware of their membership in a group (Tepperman: identify
with the group and other members)
5. Have boundaries, and practice solidarity and exclusion.
-Which characteristics do demographic categories (unconnected sets of people sharing a
-Categories become significant if their defining characteristic is socially significant for
structural reasons (Knezevic) or it is socially constructed as significant (Tepperman).
Types of social groups
1. Small; face-to-face contact; members get to know each other well
2. Membership is subjectively important to members (strong emotional ties)
1. Large; members may never meet, but are aware of their membership
2. Subjectively less important to members
3. May be short- or long-lasting
-Informal and formal social groups: written rules.
-Organizations are formal secondary groups designed to engage in specific activities
(Tepperman: have specific goal or purpose). Social forms of traditional and modern societies