The social group that one would describe for this section and one which is close to my heart is my family. Within my nuclear family, the most applicable theory within the social group module is the observance of status, described by Kendall (2012) as a “socially defined position in a group or society characterized by certain expectations, rights and duties” (p. 107). I belong to a Muslim family who shares very conservative views and beliefs that stem from our strong practise of the Islam faith. Each member conforms to the roles and position in the family, from my parents (my father who we regard with utmost respect as the breadwinner of the family and my mother who is the provider of physical, emotional, and spiritual guidance, as well as support). Siblings are therefore expected to follow our parents’ rules (including helping in household chores and focusing on our studies). Thus, it was evident that the concept of ascribed status, defined as “a social position conferred at birth or received involuntarily in life, based on attributes over which the individual has little or no control, such as race/ethnicity, age and gender” , was clearly applicable in my family, as a social group. We follow defined rules and responsibilities depending on our ascribed status: my father as the provider; my mother as a pillar of support; and us siblings as providing assistance to our mother in duties and tasks that would make the performance of everyday activities equally divided and fairly delegated.
Also in this context, applying lessons on groups and organizations, it is also evident that within our family, my father could be considered the leader who delegates tasks and responsibilities within the household among other members (mother and siblings). Thus, the clear delegation of tasks, identification of goals and objectives, plans (short and long term), as well as our ability to follow prescribed time frames and schedules to comply with needed accomplishment of activities define the overall success of the family as a social group. For instance, in a particular week, each sibling is delegated with tasks which includes assisting in cleaning the living room and respective bedrooms; in laundry work; or in assiting my mother doing the shopping for grocery items and household supplies. These are expected to be performed accordingly; otherwise, future tasks would not be accomplished, as scheuled.
In addition, there have been clear rules that include prescription of sanctions for violating family regulations. For example, when tasks that have been delegated were not accomplished, the child assigned to do it would be sanctioned through being confined to the room and focus on doing academic chores, rather than spending time for entertainment or watching T.V. On the other hand, members are also rewarded for exemplary peformance of duties through showering them with simple gifts, a lot of love and affection, and acknowledgement for work well done. I therefore realized that clearly delegated roles, responsibilities and tasks; as well as effectively designed rules and regulations that provide rewards and sanctions make group work effective and successful.
In terms of observing groups, I opted to observe the Sociology class which I belong in as the focus of observation. Within the class, it was evident that there are smaller groups of students who usually are bound together through common interests or through sharing similar background, experiences, and values or beliefs. These attest to the concepts of different types of groups .
In campus, for instance, students with similar ethnic or racial backgrounds unite and even without consciously communicating with each other, apparently share commonalities through cultural practices and traditions. As affirmed, being a Muslim, when I see students from the same cultural background who similarly came from the United Arab Emirates, we could cultural orientations, practices, religious traditions and beliefs, and conforming to rules of social structure.
Likewise, there are groups which were newly formed depending on academic requirements. Some class modules require students to comply with group works or projects. Some professors give the students the opportunity to select their own group mates; while others select members who exhibit different traits, personalities, and demographic background. Despite the diversity, the groups could still work together as long as roles and responsibilities are defined; as well as the objective that must be achieved. Also, as confirmed in the section of group leadership, the leader’s style and abilities to provide strategies and motivation to members are instrumental in directing the members to perform assigned responsibilities. In addition, the leader’s skills in evaluating and monitoring the progress of members contribute to the successful implementation of tasks and the achievement of the overall outcome.
Thus, I recognized that these groups in campus share similarities with my family as a social group. As noted, leadership roles and skills; as well as the clear identification of objectives or goals and the delegation of tasks are important in the effective implementation of performance of social groups. Each of us become individual members of social groups, either through ascribed or achieved statuses, and perform specifically defined responsibilities according to the designated roles that we play in each group, as effectively presented herein.
Kendall, D. (2012). Sociology in Our Times: The Essentials. 9th Edition. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning.