Sociology

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lc7c5
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Sociology
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2009-10-14 11:05:44
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Ch 6
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Social organizations
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  1. Overview
    • Groups
    • Networks
    • Formal Organizations
  2. Group dynamics
    • the social processes and social structures that develop in groups
    • Group Conformity and Group Think
    • Obedience to Authority
    • Group Leadership
    • Diversity and Group Participation and Influence
    • Group Size and Group Performance
    • Altruism and Diffusion of Responsibility
  3. Group conformity
    All of us have, at one time, or another done things in a group that we later regretted, or at least that we realized we would not have done except for the influence of the group.
  4. Such behavior is called “Group Conformity” and several important sociological studies have examined this process.
  5. Group conformity studies
    Asch (1952) The Effects of Group Pressure on Conformity
  6. Sherif (1935)
    Muzafer Sherif (1935) used the "autokinetic effect" to examine the effects of group pressure on conformity.
  7. autokinetic effect - in a very dark room with only a single point of light visible, people think the light moves because they have no reference points for comparison
    • Individual subjects were first shown the light in a room alone and then in a group. Each individual, over several trials, established a mean distance they perceived the light moving. Later those same individuals were exposed to the same stimulus in a group in which other members gave their estimated distances first.
    • RESULTS: In the group setting, subjects tended to change their estimated distances to be more nearly like the group average. He concluded individuals tend to conform to the group judgment.
  8. Asch (1952)
    Solomon Asch (1952) in a study titled, The Effects of Group Pressure on Conformity, examined the effects of group pressure on conformity.
  9. In his laboratory experiment, Asch studied groups of 7 to 9 college students. All but one of the group members were "confederates" who acted in predetermined ways.
  10. The objective was to have the confederates in the group create a situation in which there was pressure to conform to the group on a judgment task when the group was wrong.
  11. Asch study results
    • One-third (32%) of the subjects agreed with the majority and chose the incorrect line.
    • even when the subjects appeared to know their choice was wrong
    • Larger unanimous majority ->greater conformity
    • When the disagreement with the subject was not unanimous, the pressure to conform dropped drastically.
    • Concluded:
    • Significant tendency for individuals to conform to the group judgment.
  12. Groupthink
    • occurs when individual group members oppose the decision of a group but are afraid to speak out against what they perceive to be the group consensus. In such situations, dissensus may be viewed as disloyalty. --)
    • Groupthink is most common in small cohesive groups with strong leaders.
    • Groupthink can be disastrous for groups
    • the range of options given serious consideration is narrowed
    • options may be ruled out to maintain group cohesiveness
    • this can prevent a frank and honest discussion
    • the group fails to take advantage of the different perspectives individuals bring to the group.
    • The result often is poor decisions
  13. The Challenger disaster
    Shortly before the space shuttle, Challenger, was launched and then blew up, engineers and NASA officials held telephone meetings to discuss whether the launch was safe. They were under considerable pressure to launch on time to help assure continued congressional funding (Moorhead, Ference, and Neck, 1991
  14. The bay of pigs
    Shortly after President Kennedy took office in 1961, after first consulting with a small group of top government officials and receiving their support for the decision, he launched the Bay of Pigs Invasion—a military action in which 1,400 Cuban exiles were given covert assistance by the U.S. military and the C.I.A. to invade Cuba.
  15. The invasion failed almost immediately when supply ships with ammunition and materials were sank by the Cuban air force and the invaders were surrounded by 20,000 well-equipped Cuban soldiers. Virtually all 1,400 men were killed or captured within 3 days. The United States was humiliated. And Castro consolidated his position in the Caribbean.
  16. Interviews and memoirs later revealed at least one of the participants in that meeting (Presidential advisor, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.) had reservations about the decision to invade Cuba, but had not spoken up in the meeting (quoted in Janis, 1967:30,40).
  17. Obedience to authority
    Influencing factor on the dynamic of groups:
  18. Obedience results
    • Stanley Milgram experiment
    • Most people thought few subjects would go all the way in shocking other subjects….
  19. But it didn’t turn out quite that way
  20. Diversity, group participation, and influence
    The status characteristics people bring to a group tend to affect their participation and influence in the group, and to affect the interaction of the group in general.
  21. This is called status generalization--members of a group holding the highest status within the group tend to be people who hold higher statuses outside the group as well.
  22. Diversity, group participation, and influence (cont)
    The status characteristics people bring to a group tend to affect their participation and influence in the group, and to affect the interaction of the group in general.
  23. This is called status generalization--members of a group holding the highest status within the group tend to be people who hold higher statuses outside the group as well.
  24. Primary group
    • a group in which people have intimate face-to-face associations that endure for long periods of time.
    • generally small, close-knit, and personal
    • strong identification, much cooperation
    • spend time together and know one another well
    • interested in other members as individuals
    • help one another freely
    • profound impact, basis for lifetime friendships
  25. Group size and group performance
    • Which performs better? An individual or a group?
    • Which groups performs better? A small group or a large group? How big should a group be
  26. Examples of primary groups
    • Examples of primary groups include
    • families,
    • roommates, and
    • childrens' play groups.
    • For example, Mitchell Duneier (1992) describes a group of men who routinely eat and hang out at the same restaurant in the Hyde Park area near the University of Chicago. Those men typically show up during the same time of day and interact with the other “regulars.” Dunieier argues that these men provide a primary group for each other providing companionship for one another, knowledge about one another, and genuine concern for each others’ welfare
  27. Conjunctive tasks
    • Conjunctive tasks - tasks where the performance of the group can only be as good as the performance of the weakest link or weakest member
    • Conjunctive tasks are tasks where the performance of the group can only be as good as the performance of the weakest link or weakest member.
    • An example of a conjunctive task is a squad of military personnel on an obstacle course. So long as the squad must stay together it can only move as fast as the slowest member.
    • Conjunctive tasks -> smaller groups or individuals better
  28. Secondary group
    • A secondary group is a group that is large and impersonal, members do not know each other intimately or completely, there are weak ties, and the group typically has a less profound impact on the members.
    • Secondary groups are usually formed for a specific purpose.
    • They are often of short duration.
    • They usually are much larger than primary groups.
    • They are typically narrow in scope involving only a few activities, and
    • the group is often seen as a means to an end, rather than an end in itself.
    • An example is the PTA (Parent Teacher Association).
    • It is formed to influence schools.
    • People often belong only for a few years while their children are in school.
    • Relationships in that group are specialized and unlikely to endure beyond that setting.
    • People are important for their role more than for themselves as individuals. It matters little, for example, who is the treasurer so long as they perform their job adequately.
  29. Reference groups
    • A reference group is any group a person considers when evaluating his or her actions or characteristics.
    • For example, someone may consider their peers, their family, a religious group, or some other group when deciding how they might respond in a situation, what clothes to wear, how to act, what to do, and so on.
    • "If only my friends could see me now."
    • "What would my parents think if they knew I was doing this?"
    • Most people have many reference groups which change over time.
    • People also commonly have reference groups to which they don't belong but to which they wish to belong.
    • For example, someone training to be a lawyer may often think of how his future colleagues will view some action he is taking now.
    • This consideration of reference groups for the future can be an important part of anticipatory socialization (socialization for a role or social status that takes place before the person occupies that status). See Chapter 6:Socialization or Social Change
  30. In groups & out groups
    • An in-group is a group that members are involved in, and with which they identify.
    • An out-group is one to which people feel they do not belong. Members of an out-group are rejected or treated in a hostile manner by members of the in-group.
    • For example, Los Angeles gangs provide illustrations of in-groups and out-groups.
    • The "Bloods" and "Crips" are rival gangs. They distinguish themselves from one another and symbolize their membership by distinct clothing.
    • A member of one gang can be killed by members of the other gang for being in the wrong place or wearing the wrong clothing.
    • In-group members often develop a feeling of superiority and apply a double standard in which appropriate behaviors for the in-group are viewed as inappropriate for the out-group.
  31. Disjuntive tasks
    • Disjunctive tasks - tasks where if any one individual can solve them, then the entire group is likely to solve them as well.
    • Examples of disjunctive tasks are "eureka problems"--those where once you are shown the solution it seems obvious (so obvious you might even shout "eureka!"). For such tasks it is easy for the person seeing the correct solution to persuade the rest of the team of the correct solution.
    • Disjunctive tasks -> larger groups perform better
  32. Networks
    • A social network - a series of social relationships linking individuals directly to other individuals and indirectly to still other individuals.
    • Links may include group memberships, dyadic friendships, workers, neighbors, and relatives, both casual and intense.
    • Social networks can be very limited. Members are often not co-present (in the same place), they may not have common goals, and they may not even perceive themselves to be part of a network.
    • Yet, social networks are often used effectively to achieve important goals, such as obtaining social support, advancing a career, and influencing political events.
  33. Strong & weak ties in social networks
    • Carol Stack (1974) describes what she calls domestic networks —localized, kin-based cooperative coalitions of people based on strong ties.
    • She describes how Black families in Chicago living in poverty and on welfare lack the resources to develop a surplus of money with which to handle emergencies.
    • Should they receive an unexpected windfall (such as an inheritance), they face immediate withdrawal of welfare benefits until the surplus is gone.
    • As a result, whenever someone receives such a windfall, they very quickly distribute the resources through their network, buying winter coats for nieces and nephews, helping other relatives pay back bills, and in general returning favors from people who have helped them in the past.
    • Through this domestic network they help one another, though at the same time, making it difficult for any single individual or family to accumulate a surplus with which to get out of poverty.
  34. Group size: dyads & triads
    • Georg Simmel (1950) was the first to point out the increasing complexity of groups as a function of group size.
    • The dyad - smallest possible group, consisting of only two people.totally dependent on both members to continue
    • there is only one relationship—that between the two members
  35. Indirect links
    • Much of the power of networks comes from the linking of each individual's connections to those of others.
    • Each person is at the center of their own personal network. That network typically includes family, friends, colleagues at work, neighbors, and a wide variety of acquaintances.
    • Since each person's links are different from every other person's, this can magnify any individual's connections.
    • In fact, many network theorists claim that with only a few steps you can identify a chain of links between any two people. If we don’t know them directly, we may know someone who knows someone who knows them. Thus, by a sometimes convoluted, but surprisingly short chain most of us can eventually find a link with almost anyone else.
  36. Dyands and triads
    • triad - three people interacting in a group
    • Triads offer the possibility of forming coalitions—a temporary or permanent alliance designed to achieve a common goal.
    • Triads are more unstable, leading to
    • decreased satisfaction when married couples have children,
    • the instability of intimate relationships among three adults, and
    • the instability of three-person friendship groups.
  37. Results of dyads & triads
    • The results were as follows:
    • All students who believed they were part of a dyad immediately rushed to help the other person.
    • Those told they were in a triad were slower to respond and only 80 percent went to help.
    • In groups of 6 or more, only 60 percent helped larger groups experienced a diffusion of responsibility, thinking someone else would help the person.
  38. Studyingnetworks
    • A communications network is a network describing how individuals can communicate with one another.
    • Research on communications networks is often conducted by creating experimental groups in a laboratory setting and limiting the ways in which members of the group can communicate with one another.
    • Three simple communication networks often studied are the chain, the star, and the "comcon" (all channels open). These are illustrated in the next slide for four-person groups.
  39. Diffusion of responsibility
    a tendency for members of a group to each assume others will take responsibility for a decision or action and hence, not taking responsibility themselves.
  40. Types of groups
    • Primary group
    • Secondary group
    • Reference group
    • In-group
    • Out-Group
  41. Primary group
    • a group in which people have intimate face-to-face associations that endure for long periods of time.
    • generally small, close-knit, and personal
    • strong identification, much cooperation
    • spend time together and know one another well
    • interested in other members as individuals
    • help one another freely
    • profound impact, basis for lifetime friendships
  42. Applications of Networks
    • Disease (AIDS, etc.)
    • Terrorism
    • (McCarthy’s “fellow travelers”)
    • Capturing Saddam Hussein
    • Influence and social power
    • Organizational performance
    • Knowledge creation (Carley)
    • Google
    • MySpace
  43. Formal organizations
    • Bureaucracy
    • Informal Organization
    • Continuing Rationalization
    • Point of interest
    • We even use formal organizations to regulate other formal organizations
    • (e.g., OSHA--the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or the SEC--the Securities and Exchange Commission).
  44. Types of formal organizations
    • Control of Lower-Level Participants
    • (Etzioni, 1961)
  45. Coercive organization - force
    • total institutions—regulate every aspect of a person’s behavior
    • Prisons and mental hospitals
    • Utilitarian organization - money (means/ ends)
    • Corporations
    • Normative organization norms and values
    • Voluntary associations
  46. Voluntary associations
    • Voluntary associations organizations established to pursue common interests whose members volunteer and often even pay to participate.
    • interest groups, churches, political action committees, fan clubs, communes, The Boy Scouts, gangs, the Democratic Party, AARP
    • may be
    • local, regional, national, or even international
    • very small or may include millions of members and a paid staff.
    • radical, middle-of-the-road, reactionary, or totally apolitical.
  47. Rationalization
    • In pre-industrial societies there was little need for formal organizations because individuals working alone as craftsmen were largely self-sufficient in their work. However, this changed with modernization.
    • Max Weber believed modern society was characterized by the rationalization of all aspects of social life, particularly work.
  48. Rationalization (cont)
    a pervasive process in which traditional methods and standards of social organization based on tradition, religion, belief, and even magic, are replaced with new methods and standards of social organization based on objectively calculable scientific criteria.
  49. A reorganization of work
    • With new technologies, factories, machines, and invention of assembly lines and highly specialized means of production, it became possible to achieve far more efficient production by investing large sums of money (capital) into production plants and hiring many workers to do various specialized tasks.
    • In order to be successful, this form of production required a large formal organization and a fundamentally new way of structuring the organization—what Max Weber called a bureaucracy (Braverman, 1974).
  50. bureaucracy
    • bureaucracy - (Max Weber, 1922, 1947) a formal organization that attempts to maximize efficiency and productivity through the rationalization of work.
    • Characteristics of a bureaucracy:
    • a division of labor with every member having special duties,
    • a hierarchical line of authority clearly defining each member's authority,
    • written rules & regulations specifying the rights and duties associated with each position or status in the organization and procedures required for each task,
    • compensatory reward with employment, promotion, and reward based on performance, and
    • impersonality in the relations among members
    • Not all bureaucracies have all of these features. This is an ideal type providing a pure model that can be compared to actual organizations. Bureaucracies are not limited to Western countries. Communist countries typically have huge bureaucracies.
  51. Division of labor
    A key strategy for rationalizing work to make it more efficient is a division of labor breaking complex tasks into simpler components and assigning different workers to perform each of those components.
  52. No single member of the organization performs all tasks. Instead, each member becomes a highly specialized expert, performing only the specific task or tasks within her job description.
  53. This specialized division of labor often leads to members becoming highly skilled and the organization maximally efficient.
  54. Trained incapacity
    • A negative consequence of the division of labor is trained incapacity - when members of a bureaucratic organization are unwilling to take bold decisions to handle problems in new ways and instead try to solve new problems using old methods (Veblen, 1899).
    • Employees become overly specialized and don't consider aspects of the job beyond their own specialty.
    • local rationality - act in a manner which is rational for the individual irrational or inefficient for the organization as a whole.
    • encouraged by pressures to conform in large organizations and the unwillingness of members to risk challenging "the way things have always been done" (Kanter, 1983, Chpts 3 and 4).
  55. Hierachial Line of authority
  56. Bureaucracies typically have a clearly defined hierarchical line of authority indicating who is responsible for decisions and who reports to whom.
  57. These lines of authority are often indicated by organizational charts and they have the positive benefit of clarifying who is responsible for different decisions.
  58. However, those same lines of authority are sometimes used to hide from making decisions.
  59. Decision avoidance
    • Decision avoidance
    • People unwilling to make a decision at all.
    • They try to avoid responsibility for success or failure.
    • encouraged by the hierarchical authority structure in organizations where virtually everyone in the line of command can point to someone above or below them to avoid individual responsibility for a decision. (Today, of course, they can also blame the computer.)
    • Most common when a problem does not fit into routine procedures.
  60. Conmpensatory reward
    • When employees in a formal organization are hired, promoted, and compensated based on their performance and competence this is called compensatory reward.
    • Compensatory reward protects employees from favoritism and arbitrary dismissal. Typically, there are written personnel policies, a right to appeal decisions, and in general specific procedures to protect the employee.
    • The most common problem with compensatory reward is when bureaucracies violate these rules. However, even when they are applied consistently another problem can occur…The Peter Principle.
  61. The peter principle
    • The Peter Principle - in organizations, talented people are promoted until they reach a level where they are incompetent. Then they are no longer promoted because they do not excel at their work (Peter and Hull, 1969:25).
    • For example, an efficient assembly line worker may be promoted to foreman only to find that he is a lousy foreman. But rather than demoting him to assembly line worker again and admitting a mistake was made as well as humiliating him, most bureaucracies simply keep him at his last and highest level in the organization. Because he does it so poorly, he does not get promoted up to a different position. Ironically, if he is a good foreman, then he would probably be promoted to a higher level—say a mid-level management position where the same principle continues to operate.
    • Over a period of time, the Peter Principle predicts that most people will eventually rise to their level of incompetence in the organization.
  62. Bureacuracy (cont)
    • Impersonality is a bureaucratic norm dictating that officials carry out their duties without consideration for people as individuals.
    • This can reduce bias and give everyone similar opportunities for advancement.
    • Federal and state regulations governing equal employment opportunity also encourage impersonality by requiring the fair and equitable treatment of employees without regard for latent statuses such as race, ethnicity, or gender.
  63. BUreacaray cont
    • Written rules and regulations specify the rights and duties associated with each position or status in the organization and procedures required for each task.
    • Helps assure everyone equal and fair treatment. Workers know what is expected of them in various circumstances.
    • Provides continuity to the organization even as individual actors come and go. These rules and regulations are often found in policy manuals, job descriptions, and worker contracts.
    • Extended too far and applied rigidly, however, rules and regulations can become dysfunctional.
  64. Goal displacement
    Goal displacement - overzealous conformity to official regulations where their rigid application becomes dysfunctional for the organization (Robert Merton (1968:254-256).
  65. Goal displacement occurs when the original objectives of an organization are replaced with others. This occurs in the broadest sense when the bureaucratic "red tape" and standard procedures are followed blindly by members even when doing so actually hurts the organization or makes it impossible to achieve its ostensible goals.
    insisting that every last form be completed before admission to a hospital emergency room
  66. Q
    • The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was founded as a defense pact to ward off aggression from the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact. Yet today it survives and even includes some former members of the Warsaw Pact as it finds a new reason for existence.
    • The March of Dimes was founded to fight polio, which was all but conquered in the 1950s by the Salk vaccine. This organization is still going 40 years later, having switched its focus from polio to birth defects--presumably a safer goal that can never be totally accomplished
    • What is the message here?
  67. Beauracries are often self perpetuating
    Bureaucracies are often self-perpetuating.
  68. Regardless of the original goal of any organization, that goal is quickly replaced with the goal of self-preservation.
    • People have a clear economic interest in preserving their jobs.
    • Routine institutionalized accepted ways to do things tend to be self-perpetuating (Kanter, 1983, Chpts 3 and 4).
    • Organizations tend to persist long after their initial objective has been accomplished or is no longer relevant.
    • Defense programs
    • congressional subcommittees
    • charitable foundations such as the March of Dimes
  69. The tendency to expand
    • Bureaucracies not only tend to survive long past their initial need, but even tend to expand over time for a number of reasons.
    • Every job can be performed in more detail, with more time and attention. This principle is embodied in the well-known Parkinson's Law
  70. ”Work expands to fill the time allotted.”
    --C. Northcote Parkinson
  71. The status of supervisors is often measured by the number of people they oversee and the size of their budget.
  72. Continuing rationalization
    Sociologist, George Ritzer (1993), in The McDonaldization of Society, argues we are still experiencing increasing rationality in many sectors of life from fast-food to credit cards, car service, eyeglasses and completing income tax forms.
  73. He argues that such corporations offer four benefits that have made them far more successful than the nonrationalized organizations they are replacing:
    • efficiency,
    • quantification,
    • predictability, and
    • control.
  74. McDonalds
    • Efficiency - There you can expect to get fast, efficient service.
    • Quantification - McDonalds, like other rationalized corporations offers packaged products with low prices for large quantities, with quantity substituting for quality as an easy measure of value received.
    • Predictability - No matter where in the world you are, when you go in a McDonalds you can expect the hamburgers to be about the same as the last one you had—neither horrible nor delectable, but predictably acceptable.
    • Control - Finally, McDonalds offer control over its employees. Customers can expect fast, courteous service with good quality control—the same amount of pickles roughly on the hamburger in Tulsa, Oklahoma as in Beijing, China.
  75. Rationality dominates in all sectors
    These rational organizations have gained dominance in many areas of society
  76. Corporate farms have largely replaced the family farm
    • Fast-food restaurants are driving out many local cafes and restaurants
    • Large grocery store chains are supplanting “mom-and-pop” corner grocers
    • Managed care conglomerates are replacing physicians in private practice
    • Perhaps soon Internet courses and distance learning will replace many local and regional colleges
  77. UNiversity of Phoenix & rationality
    • Efficiency – The UoP has no traditional college campuses. The ones they have are office buildings with classrooms. Most of their classes are online. So they avoid costs of rec centers, student unions, etc.
    • Quantification – Their costs are lower per credit hour and you can take courses on an 8-week schedule, permitting quantity to substitute for quality.
    • Predictability - No matter where in the world you are, when you take a UoP course it is the same—and like McDonalds neither horrible nor delectable, but predictably acceptable.
    • Control - Finally, UoP offers control over its employees. Customers can expect the same basic treatment and service regardless of where they are.
  78. Educational reform & rationality
    • Most reforms, whether in education or government, or business, tend to emphasize the need for greater rationality.
    • They emphasize
    • Accountability
    • Efficiency
    • Standardization
    • Predictability
    • Reduced
  79. The ironlaw of oligarchy
    • asserts that even democratic organizations will eventually become ruled by a few individuals (Robert Michels).
    • Formal organizations, even voluntary associations with a strong allegiance to democratic principles, tend to become dominated by a small, self-perpetuating group of members. Those members form an elite clique passing power from one member of the inner circle to the next.
    • E.g., In political parties in the United States exclusive groups of white men once dominated the selection of candidates in smoke-filled rooms away from the influence of the majority of party members.
    • American political parties have undertaken reform measures to combat this tendency toward oligarchy, a small group of very active members tends to dominate most organizations with the majority of members playing passive, limited roles.
  80. Gender/Racial diversity in organizations
    The labor force in the United States is not only increasing in size, it is also becoming more diverse. Women are participating in the workforce more continuing rise in workforce participation by women means more women will be entering the workforce than men between 1990 and the year 2000. Immigration patterns and differences in birth rates mean that Blacks will be increasing their representation in the workforce more than whites, and Hispanics dramatically more than whites.

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