A group is a set of people recurrently interacting in a structured way according to shared expectations about each other's behavior.
A primary group is based on intimate, face to face interaction whereas a secondary group is less cohesive, more formal and less supportive of members.
Social support has been found to significantly increase an individual's satisfaction with life, promote health and well-being of individuals and reduce the effects of stress in a person's life. People who have supportive primary group relationships also live longer.
A small group is a collection of people who meet more or less regularly in face to face interaction who possess a common identity or exclusiveness of purpose and who share a set of standards governing their activities. Their structure can be formal - public and explicit or informal private and implicit depending on the needs of the group members. The nature of a group's structure often depends on its central person. As groups grow, they are likely to develop formal structures that are increasingly elaborate. Even numbered groups are more characterized by disagreement and conflict than odd numbered groups.
Members who have the highest rate of group participation are most often chosen to be leaders. Other traits associated with leadership are intelligence, enthusiasm, dominance, self-confidence and egalitarianism. Democratic leadership is most useful when there is sufficient time to involve the entire group in decisions.
Groups generally reward members who conform to their norms. Group opinion strongly influences individual behavior and judgment toward that of the group.Homan's exchange theory states that people try to maximize rewards and minimize costs in social transactions and will conform to the group under these conditions.Deindividuation occurs when a person feels submerged in a large group that has strong feelings of group unity and focuses on external goals. The lack of self-awareness that results may cause pressure toward group conformity.
Group decision-making is much slower than individual, but group decisions tend to be more accurate. People in a group are sometimes willing to make decisions involving greater risk than they would alone. Groups first orient themselves, evaluate control the expression of negative and positive reactions and then achieve solidarity in making a decision. In some cases, groups seek concurrence so strongly that groupthink occurs, creating a situation in which alternatives are not viewed realistically but only in terms of making the group members happy with each other. This can be combated by the leader being receptive to the opinions of everyone by asking for outside advice on the issue and by assigning group members to troubleshoot suggested options.
A formal organization is a group deliberately constructed to achieve specific objectives through explicitly defined roles and specified rules. Modern societies are characterized by the growth of such organizations and the reduction of primary groups.
Three conditions are necessary for the rise of bureaucracy: a money economy, a steady income to the bureaucracy and a large population base.
Bureaucracies are large-scale, formal organizations that are highly differentiated and organized through elaborate policies and procedures in a hierarchy of authority. They are characterized by fixed division of labor, hierarchy of offices, written documents, management by trained experts, official work as the primary activity and management by rules.
Bureaucracy allows a society to accomplish large and complicated tasks, provides an efficient means for repetitive tasks and creates order in society. It also facilitates large-scale conflict by sometimes creating inappropriate or harmful rules, slowing upward communication of bad news, promoting antagonism between superiors and subordinates, perpetuating itself after it has served its purpose, growing beyond a size t hat is efficient, creating a situation in which workers feel dehumanized, creating a gulf between those at the top and those at the bottom and becoming a tool for exploitation. Robert Merton suggests that working in a bureaucracy for extended periods tends to entangle workers in rules, reinforcing timid and rigid attitudes among them.
Peter Principle states that in a hierarchy competent employees tend to be promoted until they reach a level at which they are not competent to do the work, and then they remain there because they feel insecure about their shoddy work. They begin to concentrate on rules and regulations, reducing the quality of their work even more.