Chapter summary imageReligious groups are a good example of social groups. They are often larger groups, that all share a common identity.

What are the Characteristics of Social Groups?

two commonalities: the members of the group share something in common, and they identify each other as members of that group.

How do Sociologists View Group Leadership?


leaders are measured by their influence on others.

Conflict Theory:

for Marx, bureaucracy was a way to exploit workers, so the bourgeoisie could gain wealth.

Symbolic Interactionism:

workers’ attitudes toward their jobs impact productivity and job satisfaction.

How Does a Parent's Civic Engagement Affect a Child's Future Political Involvement?

increases the likelihood of political involvement in adult life.



  • examines the group’s values and behaviors, particularly the group’s leader
  • successful groups often have successful leaders
  • Maxwell’s five levels of leadership

Conflict Theory

  • democratic leadership styles increase worker productivity
  • if a democratic environment is not implemented, then bureaucracy can be stifling for the worker and the organization
  • greater participation in leadership roles does not mean the company will succeed

Symbolic Interactionism

  • along with leadership, personal attitude has a big effect on job performance and satisfaction
  • people feel good about themselves and their jobs when they feel they have a certain level of control over their actions
  • democratic work environments help people feel connected to their jobs

Key Terms

Social Groups

are groups that consist of two or more people who interact with one another and share a common identity.

Bounded Relationships

are relationships that exist only under specific conditions.


is a group to which we feel an affinity or closeness.

In-group Bias

is the feeling that a person’s in-group is superior to others.


is a group from which we are disconnected.

Reference Group

is the group you use to evaluate yourself.


a group consisting of two people.


is a group consisting of three people.

Leadership Style

is a behavioral mode that leaders use to influence group members.

Autocratic Leaders

are leaders who determine the group policies and assign tasks.

Democratic Leaders

are leaders who strive to set group policy by discussion and agreement.

Laissez-faire Leaders

are leaders who lead by absence and may not want to be leaders at all.


is the degree to which we will alter our behavior, attitudes, and points of view to fit into our perceived expectation of what is appropriate.


is the term for group decisions that are made without objective thought.

Social Capital

is a sociological concept that refers to the individual and collective resources available to a person.

Social Network

is the web of ties you have with others.

Formal Organizations

are groups created for a certain purpose and built for maximum efficiency.

Voluntary Association

is the act of joining an organization that offers no pay and that expands social networks through interaction.


are formal groups that exist to achieve a desired goal.

Utilitarian Organization

is an organization in which people receive wages in exchange for work.

Normative Organizations

are organizations that exist to achieve a worthwhile goal.

Coercive Organizations

are organizations that people are forced to join.

Formal Structure

is the explicit rules, goals, and guidelines of the organization.

Informal Structures

are friendships, allegiances, and loyalties among members of the organization.


are formal organizations that are organized into a hierarchy of smaller departments.

Formal Rationality

is the reasonable actions organizations and bureaucracies take to achieve goals in the most effective way.

Iron Cage

is a concept introduced by Max Weber that refers to the way in which bureaucracies make workers feel trapped and turn them into little more than robots accomplishing tasks.


1. How and why are social networks of great use to immigrants?

2. Why is groupthink a potentially dangerous method of decision making?

3. What are the potential pitfalls of the three leadership styles discussed in this chapter?

4. Which leadership style did John Humphrey Noyes employ as leader of the Oneida group? Explain.

5. Why is a dyad considered the strongest form of a group?

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