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Introduction to Sociology

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Introduction to Sociology ­ SOC101
VU
Lesson 7
SOCIAL GROUPS
Different meanings of group:
1.
Any physical collection of people. Group shares nothing but physical closeness. It is just an
aggregation, a collectivity.
2.
Number of people who share some common characteristic ­ which is often called as category.
3.
Number of people who share some organized pattern of recurrent interaction. It can be an
educational institution where people come and work, study, play.
4.
Number of people who share consciousness of membership together and of interaction.
Two essentials of social group
social interaction and consciousness of membership.
A social group is two or more people who identify and interact with each other. Human beings come together in
couples, families, circles of friends, neighborhoods, and in work organizations. Whatever it form, a group is
made up of people with shared experiences (through social interaction), loyalties, and interests.
Not every collection of individuals can be called a social group. Let us look at some other concepts that are
often mixed up with social group. For example:
Category: People with a status in common, such as women, Muslims, Pakistanis, students, teachers, and
workers. They may know others who hold the same status; the vast majority may be strangers to each
other. So there is no interaction on the whole. Nevertheless, there are always pockets of small groups
within any broad category who interact with each other and are conscious of membership.
Crowd: A temporary cluster of individuals who may or may not interact at all. They are too transitory, and
are too impersonal. It might be students sitting together in a class, or people waiting for a train on the
railway platform. Change in circumstances may turn the crowd into a social group.
TYPES OF SOCIAL GROUPS
Primary and Secondary Groups
Primary group is a small social group whose members share personal and enduring relationships. They are bound
together by primary relationships. The relationships are informal, intimate, personal and total. These
groups are among the first we experience. The examples can be: Family, play group, friends. They provide
sense of security to the members. People usually have an emotional attachment, they are loyal, and the
relationships are end in itself.
Secondary group is a large and impersonal social group whose members pursue a specific interest or activity. Just the
opposite of primary groups their relationships are secondary. Such relationships involve weak emotional ties and
little personal knowledge of one another. Most secondary groups are formal, impersonal, segmental, and
utilitarian. These groups are goal oriented. The interaction may be impersonal though pleasant. Example
can be students taking sociology course in the present semester. They might be together only for the
semester and may never see each other. Co-workers at a place of work, members of a political party could
be other examples.
In-Groups and Out-Groups
In-group is social group commanding a member's esteem and loyalty. My pronouns: I feel I belong to
them. Others: I am outside them. In-group exists in relation to an out-group.
Out-group is a social group toward which one feels in competition or opposition.
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Introduction to Sociology ­ SOC101
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In modern societies the membership may overlap. In the National Assembly members are elected on the
tickets of different political parties. They have competed against each other (out-group to each other) but
after the election they are members of the one group i.e. National Assembly.
Exclusion from in-group may be brutal in simple society--Social boycott.  In-group expects loyalty,
recognition, and helpful to its members.
These groups are important because they affect our behavior.
Group Size
Size of the group plays an important role in how group members interact. In small size groups the
members can have highly intense relationships but such groups are less stable. Look at the group of two
persons having a highly emotional interaction, but if one of them leaves, the group comes to an end.
The Dyad is social group with two members.
The Triad is a social group with three members. It is more stable than the dyad.
As groups grow beyond three people, they become more stable and capable of withstanding the loss of
even several members. At the same time, increase in-group size reduces the intense personal interaction,
which is possible only in the smaller groups.
Reference Group
How do we assess our own attitudes and behavior? Frequently, we use a reference group, a social group that
serves as a point of reference in making evaluations and decisions. A young person might assess the rewards for his
work by comparing the rewards given to other coworkers for similar work.
Reference groups can be models, which could be ideals for individuals. Parents can be reference groups for
their children. Individuals can also be models and we can call them as reference individuals. A teacher
can be a reference individual for students.
Reference groups and reference individuals can be living or non-living persons; they can also be from the
fiction. Quaid ­I-Azam can be a reference individual for Pakistanis. Children pick up many of their
reference individuals from the cartoons they watch on television.
Reference groups or individuals can also be negative models whereby some individuals don't want to adopt
the behavior patterns of such individuals.
Stereotypes
It is a group-shared image of another group or category of people. It is an exaggerated description applied
to every person in some category. Such images could be about a minority group, about youth, about
Muslims, about Christians, about Pakistanis, about laborers.  Stereotypes could become the basis of
prejudice, which is a rigid and unfair generalization about an entire category of people.
Social Distance
One measure of prejudice is social distance, that is, how closely people are willing to interact with members of
some category. It is the degree of closeness or acceptance we feel about other groups.
Networks
A network is a web of weak social ties. Think of a network as "fuzzy" group containing people who come into
occasional contact but who lack a sense of boundaries and belonging. Network is "social web" expanding
outward, often reaching great distances and including large numbers of people.
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Introduction to Sociology ­ SOC101
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Some networks are close to being groups, as is the case with college fellows who stay in touch after
graduation by e-mail and telephone. Usually a network includes people we know of ­ or who know of us ­
but with whom we interact rarely.
A New Group: Emergence of Electronic Communities
In the 1990s, due to technology, an entirely new type of human group made its appearance through
Internet. These are the people who have a relationship with one another and who think of themselves as
belonging together.
Internet is a series of thousands of computers hooked together worldwide. On the Internet, thousands of
newsgroups, called use nets, people who communicate on almost any conceivable topic. This new way of
communicating has developed out of new technology.
New forms of electronic communication, sometimes called the information superhighway or cyberspace,
have made our homes "less bounded environment". While remaining within the walls of our homes, we
can instantly "travel" electronically to previously remote settings around the world. There, we can share
information with people who have never met, or seen, and even develop friendship with them. The result is
a new type of group known as an electronic community. In some cases, the term "electronic primary
group" seems more appropriate to refer to this new type of group, for people regularly interact with one
another, share personal information, identify with one another, and develop a sense of intimacy ­ even
though they have "met" only electronically.
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Table of Contents:
  1. THE ORIGINS OF SOCIOLOGY:Auguste Comte, The Fields of Sociology
  2. THE SOCIOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE:Society affects what we do
  3. THEORETICAL PARADIGMS:Salient Paradigms, Critical Evaluation
  4. SOCIOLOGY AS SCIENCE:Empirical, Verifiable, Cumulative, Self-Correcting
  5. STEPS IN SOCIOLOGICAL INVESTIGATION:Exploration/Consultation
  6. SOCIAL INTERACTION:Social Status, ROLE, The Social Construction of Reality
  7. SOCIAL GROUPS:Primary and Secondary Groups, Reference Group, Networks
  8. ORGANIZATIONS:Utilitarian Organizations, Coercive Organizations
  9. CULTURE:Universality, Components of Culture, Symbols, Language
  10. CULTURE (continued):Beliefs, Norms, Cultural Diversity
  11. CULTURE (continued):Culture by social class, Multiculturalism, Cultural Lag
  12. SOCIALIZATION: HUMAN DEVELOPMENT, NATURE, Social Isolation
  13. UNDERSTANDING THE SOCIALIZATION PROCESS
  14. AGENTS OF SOCIALIZATION:The Family, The School, Peer Groups, The Mass Media
  15. SOCIALIZATION AND THE LIFE COURSE:CHILDHOOD, ADOLESCENCE
  16. SOCIAL CONTROL AND DEVIANCE:Crime, Deviants, Stigma, Labeling
  17. THE SOCIAL FOUNDATIONS OF DEVIANCE:Cultural relativity of deviance
  18. EXPLANATIONS OF CRIME:Sociological explanations
  19. EXPLANATIONS OF CRIME -- CONTINUED:White-Collar Crime, Conflict Theory
  20. SOCIAL DISTRIBUTION OF CRIME: EXPLANATIONS, Gender and Crime
  21. SOCIAL STRATIFICATION: INTRODUCTION AND SIGNIFICANCE
  22. THEORIES OF CLASS AND STRATIFICATION I:Critical evaluation
  23. THEORIES OF SOCIAL CLASS AND STRATIFICATION II
  24. THEORIES OF CLASS AND SOCIAL STRATIFICATION III
  25. SOCIAL CLASS AS SUBCULTURE
  26. SOCIAL MOBILITY:Structural factors, Individual factors, Costs
  27. THE FAMILY: GLOBAL VARIETY, Marriage Patterns, Patterns of Descent
  28. FUNCTIONS OF FAMILY:Reproduction, Social placement
  29. FAMILY AND MARRIAGE IN TRANSITION:Family is losing functions
  30. GENDER: A SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION, Gender socialization
  31. GENDER SOCIALIZATION:Role of family, Gender Stratification
  32. EXPLANATIONS OF GENDER INEQUALITY:Conflict Explanations, Feminism
  33. FUNCTIONS OF SCHOOLING:Cultural Innovation, School Tracking
  34. ISSUES IN EDUCATION:Low Enrollment, High Dropout, Gender Disparity
  35. POPULATION STUDY AND ITS SIGNIFICANCE:Crude Birth Rate
  36. THEORY OF POPULATION GROWTH:Theory of Demographic Transition
  37. POPULATION PROFILE OF PAKISTAN:World Population Growth
  38. POPULATION PROFILE OF PAKISTAN (Continued):Age Distribution, Sex Composition
  39. IMPLICAIONS OF POPULATION GOWTH:Additional GDP needed per year
  40. POPULATION POLICY:Goals of Population Policy, Objectives, Strategies
  41. ENVIRONMENT AND SOCIETY:Global Dimension, Historical Dimension
  42. ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES:Preserving Clean Water, Clearing the Air
  43. SOCIAL CHANGE:Social change is controversial.
  44. CAUSES OF SOCIAL CHANGE:Culture and Change, Conflict and Change, Modernization
  45. MODERNITY AND POST MODERNITY:Cultural Patterns, Post-modernity