SOC101Y1 Lecture Notes - Groupthink

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11 Jan 2011
Professor Robert Brym
DATE: October 7
LECTURE 5: Networks, Groups and Bureaucracies
In the case of the Holocaust genocide- How was it possible for so many thousands of
Germans to systematically murder millions of Jews, homosexuals, and Roma (Gypsies)
Sociologists identify three factors to explain why most people conform
1- Norms of solidarity
oWhen we develop relationships, we develop ideas of how we should sustain them, and
often put this as of higher importance than our morals and values
oEx1- gang members, who often see crime as a way of maintaining a social bond
oEx2- the 1989 Glenridge rape case:
-13 popular teenage boys, members of their high school football team, lured a
mentally disabled young woman into a basement
-Four of them actually raped her, while three looked on, and the other six left when
they realized what was happening
-The trial took years to occur, and many of the town members stood up for the
boys, blaming the defendant instead, and the boys only got very light sentences
-Sociologist Bernard Lefkowitz blamed the community for the rape, saying that the
boys had exaggerated the values that they had learned from their elders
-They always saw women in a subordinate role, with few women in their town in
positions of authority
-He also noticed a general lack of compassion for weaker members of society and a
high tolerance for male misconduct in the town
-Parents tended to make excuses for the misbehaviour of their sons, sayingBoys
will be boys
-In the end, one boy came out and told the truth- his name was Charles Figueroa,
the only black boy on the team
-He had been poorly socialized; he knew he was not completely accepted by the
other boys because of his race, and this made it easier him to not conform
oEx 3- German soldiers wanted to maintain group morale, and acted to sustain their
friendship ties to each other
o During the Holocaust, many Polish Christians in particular, risked their lives to save
others- Sociologists argue that the main difference between them and the German
people was that they were not fully accepted in society and were poorly socialized,
and therefore had less pressure to conform
oCorporate whistleblowers are the same, usually those that do not feel completely each
accepted in their work environment
2- Structures of authority
oTend to render us obedient if we are in a subordinate position- we tend to fear
punishment and fear ostracism from the group
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