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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

How can we define symbolic interaction in family?
hafsa Reply
how does technology impact the soceity?
Lizzy Reply
technology impulse the society to change its manners . bcz society cannot b live without. it has to adopt technology with it's new trend.
Sajjad
who can tell me benefits of sociological imaginations?
Mohamed Reply
who cn tell me benefits of sociological imaginations?
Mohamed
please someone should elaborate on gerontology..
onoja Reply
study of ageing proccess is called gerontology...
Ayaz
why is sociology a science
Joseph Reply
Because its study human individual, group and the society
Baba
b/c the subject matter of sociology is the behavior of human being and society ...and sociology studies these under sceintific method ...empiricaly and clearly...it include all scientific method in its every study level...... 1.observation 2.research or literature reveiw 3.hypothesis 4.testing 5.th
Ayaz
5.theory sociology solve every problem with the help of above methods ...and it is clear that subject which solve any problem by such method is science..
Ayaz
it is a systematically study of human behaviour. sociology is a science bcoz it search the fact behind the behaviour.
derhagwara
socialogy as prospective? explain.
Natasha Reply
sorry i dont know you explain plz
Tariq
I think it is about sociologist view I just want to confirm it
Natasha
Negative impact of family in the Society
Bode Reply
when the family does not pamper their offspring properly it badly effects the society....with my piont of veiw....
Ayaz
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Bode
negative impact the way people treat badly 😔 with other people
Natasha
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Matthew Reply
who is the founder of sociology
Amartey Reply
august comte
Salina
how does the French revolution contribute to the emergence of sociology?
Amartey
sorry I don't know about this
Salina
french sociologist established two theories about the emergence of sociology.1.empiricism 2.positivism
Ayaz
founder is Allama ibn khaldum
Aj
how to identify variables
Paula Reply
there are two kind of variables dependent and independent u can't identify it u just take if it causes some changes in the phenomenon or not.
Atal
What is social anthropology
Muhammad Reply
what is the ralationship b/w socoilogy and anthrapology?
Fawad Reply
what is mobility
Nanlop Reply
the ability to move between different level in society or employment
Salina
Explain different prsfctives of sociology..
Naseer
It includes structural mobility(in between classes) as well as geographical mobility(migration)
Atal
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Salina
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Naseer
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Salina
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Naseer
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Salina
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Naseer
the symbolic interactionist perspective,functionalist and conflict
Salina
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Salina
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Naseer
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Salina
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Naseer
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Salina
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Naseer
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Salina
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Salina
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Naseer
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Naseer
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Salina
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Naseer
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Salina
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Naseer
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Salina
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Naseer
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Salina
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Salina
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Salina
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Naseer
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Salina
relationships of sociology
khanirshad Reply
social relationship
Natasha
what are the important of sociology
Abdul Reply
to know about the society and the world
Natasha
to discover trends in society or gain knowledge, to identify social problems and solve them and to predict the consequnces
Atal
To know the structure of the society and how it functions.
derhagwara
man want to know everything ,even about a human being, but only by structurly and physically. Thus he couldn't subdue anything but a man. Sociology teaches us to learn about a men by mentally. ie the humanity. this is the right way of peace achieving. so the sociology is a key element for humanity.
Sajjad
to the life circle of human being toward in his environment
Joram
to know the life circle of human being toward in his environment
Joram

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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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