Sociology of Groups
Humans are social by nature. Humans are particularly adept at utilizing systems of communication for self-expression, the exchange of ideas, and create complex social structures composed of many cooperating and competing groups, from families to nations.
Groups are an object of intense study not only for sociologists, but for social psychologists, and scholars working on gender and other forms of demographic diversity. As social beings, we all are immersed in group settings, at school, in the family, and at work.
Social phenomena is all about groups. Groups are the context for most social activities.
Everybody belongs to a group: audiences, boards of directors, committees, dance troupes, families, gangs, juries, orchestras, sororities, teams, and even terrorists.
Aristotle proclaimed that humans are social animals by nature. We seek solitude from time to time, but we spend much of our lives in the company of other people. In most situations and societies, humans tend toward sociality rather than isolation.
Studies indicate that human infants seem to be predisposed to form strong attachments to others and babies who are deprived of close human contact have higher mortality rates.
Even in adults, protracted periods of social isolation can be extremely disabling and we prefer the company of others when we feel threatened or distressed.
Sociology is concerned with many things, but if there is a primary assertion, it is that we cannot adequately explain social phenomena if we look only at individuals. Rather, we must examine how people interact in group settings, and how those settings shape and constrain individual action.
Groups of ascription (that one is either born into or to which one is assumed to belong by virtue of one's position), those of affiliation (groups which one voluntarily joins, or comes to be connected with via one's efforts or work), and also groups as based on gender, class, and race.
Status Groups and Honor - Sociology of groups.
Unlike classes, status groups do have a quality of groups. They are determined by the distribution of social honor. A specific style of life is shared by a status group, and the group itself is defined by those with whom one has social intercourse. Economic elements can be a sort of honor; however, similar class position does not necessitate similar status groups (see old money's contempt for the nouveau riche). People from different economic classes may be members of the same status group, if they share the same specific style of life.
The way in which social honor is distributed in the community is called the status order. Criteria for entry into a status group may take forms such as the sharing of kinship groups or certain levels of education. The most extreme of a status system with a high level of closure (that is, strong restriction of mobility between statuses) is a caste system. There, status distinctions are guaranteed no only by law and convention, but also by religious sanctions.
Relationships between Class and Status group; between Class situation, Status Situation, and Stratification.
Status groups can sometimes be equal to class, sometimes be broader, sometimes more restrictive, and sometimes bear no relation to class. In most cases, status situation is the apparent dimension of stratification: ''stratification by status goes hand in hand with a monopolization of ideal and material goods or opportunities''. Class situation can take precedence over status situation, however. ''When the bases of the acquisition and distribution of goods are relatively stable, stratification by status is favored''. Technological and economic changes threaten stratification by status, and ''push class situation to the foreground.... Every slowing down of the change in economic stratification leads, in due course, to the growth or status structures and makes for a resuscitation of the important role of social honor''.
A number of studies highlight the basic utility of groups: in groups individuals can secure advantages and avoid disadvantages that would plague the lone individual. Groups are supremely useful for their members, for they fulfill our most basic needs. - Sociology of groups.
Groups and Formal Organizations: For a complete authoritative discussion and study of Groups and each and every type of group - umsl.edu/~rkeel/010/groups.html
Human beings are born into and spend their entire lives within groups. Sociology is concerned with the study of people in group and social context. The major goal is to explain and understand human social behavior or interaction as well as the results of human interaction. From a sociological perspective, through human interaction the human biological animal becomes a human social animal, deriving values, attitudes, beliefs, and standards of behavior. Sociological explanations from human behavior are tied to the idea that social interactions among individuals cause or at least greatly influence human behavior. Sociology focuses therefore on the nature of human group life and the products of group living. Chief among the products of human interaction with others is the development of group customs, traditions, values, and standards of behavior, which are present in every group and constitute the basis on which human social life is organized and perpetuated. Social organization, then, is derived from group living and, in turn, influences human social life. - harlingen.tstc.edu/pages/soci/soci1301/c01text.htm
GROUP - An aggregate of individuals having some characteristic in common. They may be distinguished from others by appearance, language, socio-economic status or cultural values and practices. A group is often characterized by a sense of common identity, shared interests and goals among its members, but a group may exist simply because its members share some objective characteristic and are defined as a group by others.
GROUP, PRIMARY - A circle of individuals with whom a person is extensively involved: they have bonds of common activity and emotional commitment. People interact in primary groups as whole person to whole person: relationships are comprehensive and emotionally charged. Examples include the family and small traditional communities. Term was developed by C.W.Cooley (1864-1929) and contains echoes of Gemeinschaft.
GROUP, SECONDARY - A number of individuals jointly linked by some common instrumentally-related characteristic. The members of the group have some specialized and specific relationship to each other. Examples include a professional association, colleagues in the workplace, a political party, a tennis club. Term was developed by C.W. Cooley and contains echoes of Gesellschaft.
The Center for the Study of Group Processes - Department of Sociology of the University of Iowa. - This represents an explicit commitment by the University to provide infrastructural support for multidisciplinary research on group processes.
We define "group" very broadly. Included are formal organizations, political groups, families, intimates, social categories and societies. Two issues are especially pertinent to our interests, however: (1) the discovery and analysis of general principles underlying group processes across diverse empirical settings, and (2) the interplay between individual and group levels of analysis.
The group processes area is inherently interdisciplinary, offering a broad, theme under which a variety of strands may be unified. For example, it may subsume sociological work on status, public goods research by economists, political scientists' interests in the balance of power and deterrence in international settings, communications research on interpersonal strategies, organizational scholars' research on group decision making, and psychological work on social judgments. The role of group processes in human behavior is a fundamental, cross-cutting issue for the social sciences. - http://www.uiowa.edu/~grpproc/about/mission.html
A social group is defined as two or more people who identify themselves as a group and interact with one another in that group. Not all persons who happen to be in the same place at the same time constitute a group. Because being a group involves acting like a group, all groups have some form of group leadership; not everyone in the group has the same status or power. Leaders are higher status members of groups who take responsibility for seeing to it that it achieves its purposes. All persons belong to at least some groups; we will be discussing several forms that these take and how these affect our behavior. But we will also be discussing how certain groups we do not belong to affect our behavior.