Introduction to Sociology – Groups and Organizations

Introduction to Sociology – Groups and Organizations


>>Up until now, we have been talking about
how individuals learn about culture and about how individuals interact with each other,
something we call microsociology. But sociologists are also interested in how groups interact
with each other. In this unit we’re going to look at the social group. A social group
consists of two or more people who interact with one another and who share a common identity.
The social group is divided into two different categories. The primary group is the group
that you have a very close intimate relationship with. These are the people you tend to learn
about social norms, who teach you about culture, and who you teach about culture. The other
kind of group is called the secondary group. These are people that you interact with, but
you don’t have a very intimate relationship with them. These are people who are in your
class, these are people you work with, these are people that you participate in some kind
of voluntary organization with. You know them, you’re working together on some kind of goal,
but you’re not best friends, you’re not family members. Sociologists also distinguish between
in-groups and out-groups. The in-group is the group that you have an identity with.
The out-group is the people who are not a part of your in-group. This idea of in-group
versus out-group is fascinating because we know that people who are a part of an in-group
will act differently towards people who are part of the out-group, and being part of the
in-group will affect the way you behave. For example, you may be greatly influenced by
the behavior of the people in your group. If they act one way, you may feel pressured
to act the same way. In this unit we’re going to look at some studies: The Milgram Study,
The Stanford Prison Experiment, The Ash Experiment. So we can look at the effect of being on a
in-group and how that can affect your behavior, but being in an out-group can affect your
behavior as well – how you think about the people that you’re not connected with. But,
also, not being in a group at all can affect your behavior. A great example of this is
something called the bystander affect. We know that people who are in a group who watch
some kind of a serious event happen are less likely to respond to someone in need when
there is a group of people around. It’s the diffusion of responsibility. Everyone thinks
someone else will do something. But we know that people who are not in a group who witness
some catastrophe or someone who’s in need tend to act very quickly. You don’t stand
around and wait for someone to act because you’re know – you know you’re the only one
who’s there. And so this bystander affect illustrates the effect of being in a group.
All right, I think you’re really going to enjoy this unit because you’re going to see
some fascinating videos of some experiments that have, have been done in the past that
are, are very well known. I think you’ll enjoy learning more about how groups affect how
we behave and how groups interact with each other. Be sure to read the material that’s
available for you here and make use of the resources that I have provided for you. All
right, good luck.

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