Social Groups: Crash Course Sociology #16

Social Groups: Crash Course Sociology #16

“If all your friends jumped off a bridge,
would you jump too?” It’s the lament of many an exasperated parent,
but it’s also a kind of profound sociological question. Because, when you’re talking to your parents,
the answer’s always no. But, with the right group of friends, you might
be quite happy to take a dive in the water. The thing is, you’re a different person when
you’re a part of a group, and you’re a different
person in different groups. A family, a group of friends out for a swim,
a business meeting, and a choir are different
kinds of groups. And the same person can be a member of all
of them. So if we want to understand how these groups
are different, and even how they’re similar, we need to talk about what social groups are,
and why they matter, both to the people who are
a part of them, and to the people who aren’t. [Theme Music] The choir, the meeting, the friends, and the
family are all examples of social groups. A social group is simply a collection of people
who have something in common and who believe
that what they have in common is significant. In other words, a group is partly defined
by the fact that its members feel like they’re
part of a group. This is obviously a pretty broad definition. But it does have its limits, and you can see
these limits if you compare social groups
to aggregates and categories. An aggregate is a set of individuals who happen
to be in the same place at the same time. All the people passing through Grand Central Station
at 1:00 on a Friday afternoon are an aggregate, but they aren’t a group, because they don’t
share a sense of belonging. Categories, meanwhile, consist of one particular
kind of person across time and space. They’re sets of people who share similar
characteristics. Racial categories are a simple example. So the sense of feeling like you belong to
a group is a defining feature of a group. But it also helps you differentiate kinds
of groups, specifically between primary and
secondary groups. Primary groups are small and tightly knit,
bound by a very strong sense of belonging. Family and friendship groups are primary groups. They’re mutually supportive places where
members can turn for emotional, social, and
financial help. And as far as group members are concerned,
the group is an end-in-itself. It exists to be a group, not for any other
purpose. Secondary groups, however, are the reverse. These are large and impersonal groups, whose
members are bound primarily by a shared goal
or activity, rather than by strong emotional ties. A company is a good example of a secondary group: Employees are often loosely or formally
connected to one another through their jobs,
and they tend to know little about each other. So there’s a sense of belonging there, but
it’s much more limited. That’s not to say that coworkers never have
emotional relationships. In fact, secondary groups can become primary
groups over time, as a set of coworkers spends time
together and becomes a primary group of friends. And while a gang of friends and a company
clearly have a lot of differences, they also have
at least one major similarity: They’re both voluntary – if you belong to
that group, it’s because you choose to join. But there are also plenty of involuntary groups,
in which membership is assigned. Prisoners in a prison are members of an involuntary
group, as are conscripted soldiers. Now that we understand a little bit about
what groups are, we can start to study how
they work – beginning with group dynamics,
or the way that individuals affect groups,
and groups affect individuals. If we want to think about how individuals
affect groups, a good place to start is with
leadership. Not all groups have formally assigned leaders,
but even groups that don’t, often have de facto
leaders, like parents in a family. A leader is just someone who influences other
people in the group. And there are generally two types of leadership: an instrumental leader is focused on a
group’s goals, giving orders and making
plans in order to achieve those goals. An expressive leader, by contrast, is looking
to increase harmony and minimize conflict
within the group. They aren’t focused on any particular goal,
they’re just trying to promote the wellbeing
of the group’s members. And just as leaders may differ in what they’re
trying to do, so too can they go about doing
it in different ways. I’m talking here about leadership styles,
of which we have three. Authoritarian leaders lead by giving orders
and setting down rules which they expect the
group to follow. Such a leader earns respect, and can be
effective in a crisis, but at the expense of affection
from group members. Democratic leaders on the other hand, lead
by trying to reach a consensus. Instead of issuing orders, they consider all
viewpoints to try and reach a decision. Such leaders are less effective during a crisis,
but, because of the variety of different viewpoints
they consider, they often find more creative
solutions to problems. And they’re more likely to receive affection
from their group’s members. Finally, laissez-faire leaders do the least
leading. They’re extremely permissive, and mostly
leave the group to function on its own. This means lots of freedom, but it’s the
least effective style at promoting group solidarity
and least effective in times of crisis. So, leadership is one way that individuals
affect groups, but groups also affect individuals. You can see this especially clearly in group
conformity, where members of a group hew to
the group’s norms and standards. Basically, group conformity is the reason that
you do jump off the bridge with your friends. And this has been demonstrated in some fascinating
experimental results. Let’s go to the Thought Bubble to learn
about perhaps the most famous – or infamous
– experiment on conformity. The Milgram Experiment was run by American
psychologist Stanley Milgram in 1974, and it was presented as an experiment in
punishment and learning, with two participants. One participant was the teacher, who read aloud a series of word pairs and then asked the other participant, the student, seated in another room, to recall them. The student was strapped to a chair and wired
up with electrodes. For each wrong answer, the experimenter, who was standing beside the teacher, instructed the teacher to deliver a painful electric shock to the student. With each wrong answer, the intensity increased,
from an unpleasant few volts up to 450 volts,
a potentially deadly shock. But the experiment was not about punishment
or learning. The student was actually an actor, a confederate
of the experimenter, and the shocks were not real. The experiment was designed to test how far
the teacher would go in conforming to authority. At some point in the experiment, the confederate
would feign extreme pain and beg the teacher to stop. Then he fell silent. If at any point the teacher refused to issue
the shock, the experimenter would insist that
he continue. In the end, 65% of participants went all the
way, administering the presumably deadly
450 volt shock. And this is usually given as proof that
people tend to follow orders, but there’s a lot
more to it than that. If the experimenter gave direct orders to the teacher,
like “You must continue, you have no other choice,”
that resulted in non-compliance. That’s when the teacher was
more likely to refuse. The prods that did produce compliance were
the ones that appealed, instead, to the value
of the experiment – the ones that said administering the
shocks was necessary for the experiment to be
successful and worthwhile. So in this instance, the value of the experiment,
of science, was a strongly held group value, and it helped convince the subjects to continue,
even though they might not have wanted to. Thanks, Thought Bubble. This idea of group values points us to another
important concept in understanding conformity:
the idea of groupthink. Groupthink is the narrowing of thought in
a group, by which its members come to believe
that there is only one possible correct answer. Moreover, in a groupthink mentality, to even suggest
alternatives is a sign of disloyalty to the group. Another way of understanding group conformity
is to think about reference groups. Reference groups are groups we use as standards
to judge ourselves and others. What’s “normal” for you is determined partly
by your reference groups. In-groups are reference groups that you feel
loyalty to, and that you identify with. But you can compare yourself to out-groups,
too, which are groups that you feel antagonism
toward, and which you don’t identify with. And another aspect of a social group that can
affect its impacts and dynamics is its size. And here, the general rule is: the larger the
group, the more stable, but less intimate, it is. A group of two people is obviously the
smallest and most intimate kind of group,
but it’s also the least stable. Because, if one person leaves, there’s no
group anymore. Larger groups are more stable, and if there
are disagreements among members, other members
are around who can mediate between them. But big groups also are prone to coalitions
forming within them, which can result with
one faction aligning against another. The size of a group matters in other ways,
too, for instance in terms of social diversity. Larger homogenous groups tend to turn inward,
concentrating relationships within the group
instead of relying on intergroup contacts. By contrast, heterogenous groups, or groups that
have more diversity within them, turn outward, with
its members more likely to interact with outsiders. Finally, it’s worth pointing out that social
groups aren’t just separate clumps of people. There’s another way to understand groups,
in terms of social networks. This perspective sees people as nodes that
are all socially interconnected. You can imagine a “circle of friends” who are
all connected to each other in different ways, some with strong connections in a clique or
subgroup, while some are connected by much
weaker ties. And you can follow the ties between all of the nodes
outward, to friends-of-friends and acquaintances
who exist on the periphery of the network. Networks are important, because even their
weak ties can be useful. Think of the last time you were networking,
following every connection you had to, say,
land a job interview. Regardless of whether you think about groups
as networks and ties, or as bounded sets, it’s clear that they have important impacts
on people, both inside and outside. If you just looked at society as a bunch of
individuals, you’d miss all the ways that groups
impact our lives – by acting as reference groups,
by influencing our decisions through
group conformity, and much more. And groups are important for how society itself
is organized. So next time, we’re gonna talk about one big
part of that: formal organizations and bureaucracy. For now, we’ve learned about social groups. We talked about what social groups are and
the different kinds of groups. Then we discussed group dynamics: how individuals
affect groups and how groups affect individuals. We learned about leadership, group conformity,
reference groups, and the impacts of group size. And finally, we talked about groups as networks
and why networks matter. Crash Course Sociology is filmed in the Dr. Cheryl
C. Kinney Studio in Missoula, MT, and it’s made with
the help of all of these nice people. Our animation team is Thought Cafe and Crash
Course is made with Adobe Creative Cloud. If you’d like to keep Crash Course free for everyone,
forever, you can support the series at Patreon, a crowdfunding platform that allows
you to support the content you love. Thank you to all of our patrons for making
Crash Course possible with their continued

Author: Kennedi Daugherty

100 thoughts on “Social Groups: Crash Course Sociology #16

  1. why in english laissez-faire is pronounced lazé faire, in french the 2 s mean it should be pronounced lasé faire

  2. I'm new to the family!!! So I'm a different person hear. 😀 don't read edited comments either…

  3. That was an amazing episode. The last 10 minutes, I couldn't stop thinking, about how this lesson applies to my life, country and world!

  4. Multicultural? Is sociology strongly Eurocentric, is Crash Course Sociology intentionally Eurocentric, or do I lack the skill to apply these explanations to social structures in East Asia?

    I cannot see how this video describes social networks based on guanxi 关系.

    I cannot see how the three leadership styles can describe leadership actions rooted in Confucianism, Daoism, or Zen Buddhism.

    Furthermore, the alleged dichotomy, or separation, between functional and harmonious leaders is almost impossible to reconcile with the fundamental tenets of Confucianism and Daoism because they both assert that harmony, especially group harmony héxié, is one of the highest goals (or highest goal) of a group. Confucianism explicitly obligates the highest leader (father, master, prince) to create group harmony.

    These philosophies and the actions that flow from them affect the lives of two billion people. Can you please clarify whether or not these videos are attempting to describe the sociology of East Asia?

  5. I love being alone. idk why. I just feel like im my true self, don't have to put on any masks. and people are tiring. I like my friends but most of the time id rather just read or watch YouTube. when I do hang out with people, I'm best one on one. in groups I tend to get jealous sometimes and its a better connection when it's one on one

  6. superficial categorization of group leaders imo
    orders = no affection
    consensus = affection

    but there's a big difference between a respected leader giving orders and an insecure leader who's super suspicious and constantly ordering the hell out of everybody

  7. If my friends all jumped off a cliff, I'd jump too, as all of their dead bodies would cushion my fall and I'd survive.

  8. If all [of] your friends believed everything [that is] spewed out on this channel, would you [believe], too?

  9. I think the Germans are a good example of Groupthink atm. With the ongoing refugee crisis there is a big issue that divides the people. The louder group is the group that wholeheartedly supports the refugees. They tend to look away when there are trouble making refugees. They also tend to call everyone a Nazi who dares to criticise their opinion. People who belong to the other group mostly utter their opinion on the quiet because they're afraid. (I won't deny that there are extremists in both groups.)

    Same applies to everyone in the West who questions the scientific proof to several things like climate change, nuclear energy, etc. Obviously, that doesn't mean that I'm one of those people, but I noticed that the "main group" often excludes people who dare to question the main group's opinion, and it doesn't matter if the questioning have objective reasons that actually make sense or not. Things that don't support the main opinion are ignored.

  10. And THIS is why I'm happy I'm an INTJ…known for being the MOST individualistic type and immune to corrupt behavior. We almost see it as a sport to say f**k off to anyone who tells me how or what to do think/do.

    I left a job because of this nonsense of being pressured by a group leader who had no integrity and I'm not sad I did it. That's half the reason why the US is in the mess it's in having leaders in power that lead you off a preverbal bridge and because people are too lazy they fall right off the damn thing and complain when they hit asphalt .

  11. I think this was basically about the hormone oxytocin – as oxytocin is a vital element in forming emotional bonds with other people (or things – I've come to understand that although oxytocin is really just a hormone that contracts muscles.. a key to how ancient it is… muscle contracts are a big part of our emtional response, and so when reinforced by memory we develop for example the urge to hug someone we like through muscle contractions).

    This is a dilema for minorities though – especially if they are not recognised or even seen as a threat. Take for example transgender people – it is a huge irony that oxytocin (it is thought from experiment) plays a role in our gender identity via the make up of oxytocin receptors in a parts of the brain (one of which identitfied specifically to transgender people called the "central sub division of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis" – with evidence that this part is sexually dimorphic and the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis itself correlates anxiety responses to threat monitoring and so is involved social trust). So oxytocin plays a direct role in a transgender persons experience of gender dysporia in repsonse to gender social role constructs and social interactions in a group.

    Oxytocin release also triggers our kidneys to release urine into to the bladder during R.E.M. sleep. And R.E.M. sleep itself is associated with increased activity in the ventro medial prefrontal cortex – this part of the brain becomes more active apparently in social contexts – though there is evidence from orangutans that the ventro medial prefrontal cortex may have just evolved through a greater awareness/consciousness, which is supported by the lack of activity in the ventro medial prefrontal cortex during hypnotic states (for example when exposed to marketing) and greater activity during meditation.

    It is a complex picture though. We do also form memories in our cerebral cortex as well as the limbic system (hippocampus/amygdalae/bed nucleus of the stria terminalis) – so we form memories twice (perhaps more than twice) but the memory only becomes reinforced if the cerebral cortex and limbic system act together (which it does so via the ventro medial prefrontal cortex during R.E.M. sleep). Traumatic memories can form in this way if say for example the cerebral cortex wasn't properly able to process and experience, which is when talk therapy can be useful that can be used to either re-contextualise memories or even extinguish the memories entirely (the eact process is unknown to me but I imagine it involves de-coupling the oxytocin muscle contractive response to a memory – this seems backed up by evidence such as fist clenching and relaxation used in psychotherapy for trauma memories).

    So it is a big irony with the whole controversy around whether transgender people should be allowed to use the public bathroom of the gender they identify with – I don't imagine that the leading authoritarin members of our group that enforce rules over bathrooms for political gain are ignorant of what I have discussed above and I wouldn't be suprised if it informed official policy.

    There is some evidence (I haven't seen confirmed in humans) that the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis is less active in females versus males – increasing a males ability to process information in response to threats. Evidenced by the faster increase in the stress hormone cortisol in humans by males compared to females in repsonse to a threatening situation like a public talk (which is interesting in itself to analyse as far as social roles and expectations) – even though if males and females are artificially stimulated via an injection of cortisol releasing hormone, they release cortisol just as quickly and in the same amounts as each other.

    I am very much interested in the Buddhist approach of "not taking things to heart" as Sharon Salzberg put it – how would this approach effect the experience of a transgender person? – indeed would it lead to greater peace or more social dysfunction?

  12. I don't know? – it's interesting to look at people with Williams Syndrome versus people with Autism regarding innate social interactions with people. But most of us don't have either Williams Syndrome or Autism.

  13. This video offers a stronger analysis of the Milgram Experiment than Crash Course Psychology. Excellent!

  14. I used to study this in Yr 12 in Australia in a course called Community and family studies. It was my favourite class! I wish I still had my notes!

  15. If all my friends jumped off a bridge, would I?

    No, I got to area under the bridge and collect their wallets and watches.

    I'm that kind of friend…

  16. Would I jump off the bridge in that scenario? Yes. Apparently, if I can't choose better friends than that, I need to just go ahead and check out

  17. The first division about two types of leaders doesn't really make sense, it seems to a distinction between standard leaders and intragroup conciliators, not different types of leaders. Also, the threefold division of leaders doesn't seem important to know. And the video doesn't mention one which i would say is important, a kind of distinction regarding what kind of leaders exist, as pointed out by people like Proudhon, Bakunin and various authors who followed similar ideas, and that is the distinction between hierarchical and non-hierarchical leaders. This division concerns group structure. Hierarchical leaders are those in position of hierarchy, there is a relation of superiority-subordination, an established relation of order taking and order obeying, and logically, this kind of leadership can exist only in groups which have such positions, where some people are above others. Non-hierarchical leaders can appear in groups which are horizontally organized. So, in a meeting where all members of a group can participate as equals in the decision-making, there can appear people who are knowledgeable and/or charismatic leaders, who influence others based on their knowledge and / or simply their ability to persuade them. A banal example of this is friends hanging out and accepting a suggestion of one of them about what to do; but there are even economic organizations function like this, workers' cooperatives, which have meeting open to participation of all workers, where they together make decisions about how to run the firm.

  18. I worked for a very large company, with some friendships from within the group I worked with. After 9/11 I found out two people from my company were killed. Even though I never knew those people, I still think of them today. They were part of "my company" (100k+ workers) who were killed in the tragedy. Other people have this same experience?

  19. Hey crashcourse team, is it possible for you to write the source of the quotes below the actual quote? That'd be great!

  20. I love crash course but does anyone else find it difficult to keep up with the speed at which they talk or is it just me ?

  21. Sociology is common knowledge you would at best learn in your spare time, have a great life when you do your major in Sociology Americans.

  22. Thank you for explaining the shock experiment in more detail! That experiment gets used so often, but only told with the most "shocking" result… But the experiment is actually much more interesting when you know the full story.

  23. Gina Perry did Sociology a great service by investigating Milgram's experiments and published in Discover Magazine "The Untold Story of the Notorious Milgram Psychology Experiments" Sept 2013. From the article: "archival research and examination of primary sources and that of other scholars contradicts this claim.

    Milgram himself was privately aware of the methodological weakness of his research and struggled with many of the issues about the validity of experiments and their generalisability beyond the lab. Privately Milgram reflected that his work was more art than science, and described himself as a “hopeful poet.”

    Poet or scientist, his determination to make a contribution to an understanding of one of the pressing issues of his generation led him to frame, shape and edit the story of his research for maximum impact. And while Milgram may have not measured obedience to authority in his lab his findings do offer us a powerful lesson: to question the authority of science and to be more critical of the stories we’ve been told."

    People are not zombies. They do not blindly follow orders. Many have Moral Agency and will resist.

    The Milgram Experiment has been used to advance a "deeper truth" about Human Nature.. when itself isn't true? It's been re-run now with more acceptance Sociological demographics, Racial, Gender, Age, Class. . . and they've all be able to reproduce the same numbers despite the original Milgram numbers being false.

    [Note Milgram did his experiments in 1961. . . but he published his book in 1974]

  24. "democratic leaders receive more affection from group members"

    Completely demonstrably FALSE. Politicians routinely have lower approval ratings from people as compared to unelected leaders. i.e – compare the favorability of the Thai monarchy to the American congress. When people are elected, those who elect them expect something in return for their trouble, and since this is rarely delivered, they cause more resentment in their group members.

  25. I'm have a bachelor's degree in sociology and I freaking love it! I feel like it is really useful in my life! Also, I love these vdos cuz its like a refresher or quick review. THANK YOU SO MUCH!

  26. It interesting that piece of information in the experiment difference between direct order and Appeal to someone value trend to be overlooked and oversimplified to say that everyone is a gullible lemming sheeple who follows so called authority, while yes experiments was supposed to explain why germans under Adolf Hitler order tell them to murder jew but this piece of information changed the perspective of experiments while it didn't prove that German who allowed this to happen wasn't responsible for death of jew instead it show that they were just as responsible for death of jew simply because Hitler Appeal to the germans people value and in a way twisted they and maybe even our American values considering many of Hitler ideas wasn't new ideas instead borrow from American and British culture and history and was trying to purposely repeat our history. It seem that people seem to forget or ignore facts that convenience for them.

  27. Is it me or are all dese hipster kids looking the same and dem same epistemologies, cause dere limited ways to be cool. I rebel af in dem cattle context.

  28. Heey kids, Now I am going to talk like an idiot so that all you adhd trigger brains will have patience to listen to me talking about stuff that is not related to stuff like sex, food and product consumption

  29. I watch these as part of my sociology class. I've learned that my family acts more like a secondary group instead of a primary group.

  30. This video has both 2 main superheroes from the Avengers (even to it's taken from Civil War not Endgame 🙂 and at the back we see Sansa Stark sitting on the Iron Throne ahaha what an amazing future prediction for the 2 biggest battles of both worlds happening at the same time 😉

  31. I’ve never heard the word group so may times before oh my. I thought I knew what group meant until I watched this video.

  32. company, voluntary. bwhahaha. there is a strong coersive force behind the so called "voluntary" nature of wage work. ie the hoarding of resources and territory by an owning caste. with no territory or resources of thier own, the rest are forced to rely on the owners for survival, putting them at the mercy of the owning caste.

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