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  • How size influences group dynamics
  • Different styles of leadership
  • How conformity is impacted by groups
A group of soldiers is shown marching down the road while spectators look on.
Cadets illustrate how strongly conformity can define groups. (Photo courtesy David Spender/flickr)

Dyads, triads, and large groups

A small group is typically one where the collection of people is small enough that all members of the group know each other and share simultaneous interaction, such as a nuclear family, a dyad, or a triad. Georg Simmel (1858–1915) wrote extensively about the difference between a dyad    , or two-member group, and a triad    , which is a three-member group (Simmel 1902). In the former, if one person withdraws, the group can no longer exist. We can think of a divorce, which effectively ends the “group” of the married couple or of two best friends never speaking again. In a triad, however, the dynamic is quite different. If one person withdraws, the group lives on. A triad has a different set of relationships. If there are three in the group, two-against-one dynamics can develop, and there exists the potential for a majority opinion on any issue. Small groups generally have strong internal cohesiveness and a sense of connection. The challenge, however, is for small groups to achieve large goals. They can struggle to be heard or to be a force for change if they are pushing against larger groups. In short, they are easier to ignore.

It is difficult to define exactly when a small group becomes a large group. Perhaps it occurs when there are too many people to join in a simultaneous discussion. Or perhaps a group joins with other groups as part of a movement that unites them. These larger groups may share a geographic space, such as a fraternity or sorority on the same campus, or they might be spread out around the globe. The larger the group, the more attention it can garner, and the more pressure members can put toward whatever goal they wish to achieve. At the same time, the larger the group becomes, the more the risk grows for division and lack of cohesion.

Group leadership

Often, larger groups require some kind of leadership. In small, primary groups, leadership tends to be informal. After all, most families don’t take a vote on who will rule the group, nor do most groups of friends. This is not to say that de facto leaders don’t emerge, but formal leadership is rare. In secondary groups, leadership is usually more overt. There are often clearly outlined roles and responsibilities, with a chain of command to follow. Some secondary groups, like the military, have highly structured and clearly understood chains of command, and many lives depend on those. After all, how well could soldiers function in a battle if they had no idea whom to listen to or if different people were calling out orders? Other secondary groups, like a workplace or a classroom, also have formal leaders, but the styles and functions of leadership can vary significantly.

Leadership function refers to the main focus or goal of the leader. An instrumental leader    is one who is goal-oriented and largely concerned with accomplishing set tasks. We can imagine that an army general or a Fortune 500 CEO would be an instrumental leader. In contrast, expressive leaders are more concerned with promoting emotional strength and health, and ensuring that people feel supported. Social and religious leaders—rabbis, priests, imams, directors of youth homes and social service programs—are often perceived as expressive leaders. There is a longstanding stereotype that men are more instrumental leaders, and women are more expressive leaders. And although gender roles have changed, even today many women and men who exhibit the opposite-gender manner can be seen as deviants and can encounter resistance. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's experiences provide an example of the way society reacts to a high-profile woman who is an instrumental leader. Despite the stereotype, Boatwright and Forrest (2000) have found that both men and women prefer leaders who use a combination of expressive and instrumental leadership.

Questions & Answers

can someone explain social system theory
Evalyne Reply
the study society as a complex ,arrangement of element individual and their beliefs
ghaza
how climate change human behavior
Hope Reply
climate change human behaviour... it have the power to change human emotions.
MINU
lack of agriculture can cause financial problems
MINU
disscus the roles challenges of sociology as social engineer with concrete examples
honour Reply
honour Austin met me in school, i got a material for your question or I can tell you what to do to get your assignment done....(uniuyo)
Icecool
define crime and explain its categories
Abdullahi Reply
definition of crime and explain its categories
Nathax
Criminology is the study of the law enforcement and criminal justice. Criminology covers these area: Frequency of crime Location of crimes Causes of crimes Types of crimes Social and individual consequences of crimes Social reactions to crimes Individual reactions to crimes Governmental reactions
Amman
what are roles and challenges of sociology as social engineers
Icecool Reply
Fo any of you have any idea about Ibn ek khuldun theory of Population . kindly share
Maria Reply
No idea
Dede
Maria ibn ek khuldun supposed to be the first founder of sociology but due to the country he is that's why is not recognized as well... he was born 1332 and died 1406, is an Egyptians... he defined sociology as the science of nature and discipline
IBRAHIM
the father of sociology
Chiamaka Reply
The father of Sociology is called "August Comte " but the term "Sociology is coined by Ibn e khuldun " and he is the founder of social sciences .
Maria
but sociology word first introduced by August comte
Izhar
Discuss some scholars contribution on sociology as a science
Nafisat Reply
cultural lag culture and civilization
Sundeep Reply
define culture by Edward ty
Victoria Reply
what is the basic theory
Umar Reply
basic theory of what
Victoria
Discuss* *the important of* *sociology in a developing* *country like Nigeria*
Owolo
I think he say basic theory of sociology
Arxoo
what study of sociology is important...?
Maira
the studies of human behavior as it relates to society is one major definition of sociology.
Alfred Reply
Sociology definition. "The scientific study of group behavior and social organization.
Arxoo
what is adopted culture?
Muhammad
it's a culture copied from other countries.
Davison
meaning of international understanding
Ason Reply
Is sociology a science discipline
Odimgbe Reply
yes
Maira
sociology is a scientific study of human society and interaction. ... Sociology as a scientific discipline However, when conducting social sciences research there are some systematic steps which are needed to be followed. There must be a careful selection of topic to be studied.
Maira
Sociology is the study of social life, social change, and the social causes and consequences of human behavior. Sociologists investigate the structure of groups, organizations, and societies, and how people interact within these contexts. 
pan
what is the relationship between sociology and social science discipline
Yahaya Reply
just as sociology studies human phenomena so does every other social sciences such as; economics, geography psychology and political science they all have in common the usage of scientific approaches in the study of individuals
Icecool
sociology studies human beings in group while other social sciences such as; psychology which studies individuals exclusive
Icecool
OK thanks
apenteng
which sociology as a science definition is acceptable
Mohammed
because sociologists applied scientific methodology.
MUHAMMAD

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Source:  OpenStax, Introduction to sociology 2e. OpenStax CNX. Jan 20, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11762/1.6
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