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Chapter 6

SOCA02H3 Chapter 6: Chapter 6 Summary Notes

Course Code
Shelly Ungar

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Chapter 6: Networks, Groups, Bureaucracies, and Societies
Beyond Individual Motives
The Holocaust
- 1941 Smolensk train station attack
- 300,000 Polish Jews fled to Russia before Nazi genocide in Poland, remaining 3,000,000 were
killed in various ways (forced labour, shot, gassed)
- 9% of Polish Jews (out of 3.3 million) survived WWII
- Nazi regime responsible for death of 6 million Jews Europe-wide
- How is it possile for ay thousads of ordiary Geras to systeatially urder illios of
defenceless and innocent Jews, Roma, homosexuals, communists, and people with mental
disailities i the death aps? networks, groups, bureaucracies
How Social Groups Shape Our Actions
- How ordinary Germans committed war crime of the 20th century, summed by 3 factors
emphasized by sociologists (not simply, Nazis are evil)
1. Norms of solidarity demand conformity
o Whe elatioships ae foed, shaed ideas o os of solidait aout ho to
behave toward them to sustain the relationships develop
Because relationships are more emotionally important, sometimes morality of
our actions paid less attention to than morality of our actions
Nazis who killed Jews/ eeies ofte did’t hut the o had
uncertainties about their actions simply had deep loyalty to one
another and felt the job assigned had to be fulfilled or risk letting down
Evil deeds committed not for evil, but to sustain friendships and serve
their group just like ordinary people (reporting crimes in corporation,
whistleblowers, gang initiations)
Those who saved Jews, (Polish Christians, Germans) were all
estranged/cut off from mainstream norms, poorly socialized into norms
of their society, were freer not to conform and acted in ways they
thought was right disloal fo iside’s ie ut heoi fo
outside’s POV
2. Structures of authority tend to render people obedient
o Most people find it difficult to disobey authority due to fear to being ridiculed,
ostracism, and punishment
Was deostated  “tale Milga’s 974 epeiet, patiipats ee
told to administer shock to actor at 15-olt ieets despite ato’s seas –
despite being free to disobey but 71% were prepared to put 285 volts
o Even if authority structure is new and highly artificial, were free to walk away without
penalty, and thought eaiig i it’s gip ould iflit pai o othes – people still
inclined to obey those in power (put into context of Nazis, Germans appear less evil)
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3. Bureaucracies are highly effective structures of authority
o Nazi genocide machine effective due to it being bureaucratically organized
o Bureaucracy a large, impersonal organization comprising many clearly defined
positions arranged in a hierarchy. A bureaucracy has a permanent, salaried staff of
qualified experts and written goals, rules, and procedures. Ideally, staff members always
try to find ways of running the bureaucracy more efficiently
Effiie = ahieig ueaua’s goals at least ost
Nazis goal was to kill Jews & undesirables, was done at max efficiency by
breaking jobs into many small tasks, most officials preforming 1 function
each (checking train schedules, organizing entertainment for camp
guards, maintaining Zyklon B gas stock, etc.)
Many officials avoided horrors of war by concentrating on jobs, as most
were far from death camps and gas chambers in occupied Poland
Bureaucratic organization, one of many factors accounting for variations
in Jewish victimization rates across Europe, as proportion of Jews killed
highest in countries Nazi bureaucracy best organized
- Nature of groups and bureaucracies, not just blind hatred, made it possible for Nazis to brutally
kill innocent people
- Most commonly think individual motives prompt our actions
- We often make rational calculations to maximize gains and minimize losses, also deeply held
emotions partly govern our behaviour
- Analysis based exclusively on individual motives has limitations, should also consider social
collectives (networks, groups, bureaucratic organizations, whole societies) that shape our
Social Networks
It’s a Sall World
- Research shows, on average, takes no more than 6 acquaintances to get letter to complete
stranger across country, suggesting we live in small world
- Ou old is sall sie e’e tagled i oelappig sets of soial elatios/soial etoks
o Personal networks are small, but quickly lead to much larger networks
- We live in small world since our social networks connect us to larger world
- Social network bounded set of individuals who are linked by the exchange of material or
emotional resources. The patterns of exchange determine the boundaries of the network.
Members exchange resources more frequently with one another than with non-members. They
also think of themselves as network members. Social networks may be formal (defined in
writing), but they are more often informal (defined only in practice)
- People you know personally form personal network boundaries, and each network member
linked to other people
o Thus, ou a e oeted to people ou’e ee et, eatig sall old that
extends far beyond personal network
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The Value of Network Analysis
- Units of (social network) analysis or nodes in a network can be individuals, groups,
organizations, and even countries
o Social network analysts examined everything from intimate relationships between
lovers to diplomatic relations among nations
- Most networks lack names, offices, etc. unlike organizations
- Networks lie beneath more visible collectives of social life, but that makes them no less real or
less important
- To get whole story of certain happenings in social world requires probing below surface and
examining their network level, not just highly visible collectivities
Finding a Job
- Many people learn about important events, ideas, and opportunities from their social networks
o Not the only source of info, but highly significant
- When looking for a job, acquaintances (weak ties) more likely to provide more useful info than
family/friends (strong ties) on employment opportunities
- Per Mark Garnovetter, one has either strong or weak ties to people
o Strong ties to people close to you, weak ties to acquaintances
o From focusing on flow of information, Garnovetter found that acquaintances more
useful info as they are likely connected to diverse networks
People you share strong ties with typically share overlapping networks, info
provided often redundant
Most people have more weak ties than strong ties, sum of weak ties hold more
info about job opportunities than sum of strong ties
“tegth of eak ties lies i diesit ad audae
Urban Networks
- Big cities often thought of as cold alienating places where few people know each other, so urban
acquaintanceships tend to be few and functionally specific from this view
o People think of small towns as opposite, everyone knows each other
- Some sociologists emphasized this distinction Fediad Toies otasted ouit
ith soiet
o Community marked by intimate and emotionally intense social ties (town)
o Society is marked by impersonal relationships (big city)
- Toie’s ie peailed till etok aalsis stated studig ig-city life in 1970s
o Network analysts found elaborate social networks, some functionally specific some not
Study found Torontonians had average 400 social ties, including immediate and
extended kin, neighbours, friends, co-workers
Such ties provide everything from emotional aid, financial support, to minor
o Today, less people seen talking with neighbours outside porch BUT telephone, internet,
keep people in touch with wide range of contacts for wide range of purposes
o City life far from impersonal and alienating world urban life is network-rich
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