Formal and informal groups
CATEGORISING GROUPS ACCORDING TO STRUCTURE
These are organised, hierarchical groups where structure and roles are defined. This is so as it can be further described as the deliberate and systematic grouping of people so that goals are better achieved.
These often emerge from formal groups, but may also emerge between neighbours and friends. Informal groups are the natural and spontaneous grouping of people whenever they work together over a period of time.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN FORMAL AND INFORMAL GROUPS
The following are differences between formal and informal groups:
The groups formed by the management of the organisation for accomplishing a specific task are known as formal groups. The groups that are formed by the individuals with regard to their likes and prejudices are known as informal groups.
The formal groups are deliberately created by the organisation, whereas the informal groups are established voluntarily.
The formal groups are big in size, as compared to an informal group. Moreover, there can be many subgroups in a single formal group.
The structure of a formal group is designed in a hierarchical manner, while the informal group lacks structure.
In a formal group, the position of a member defines its importance in the group, but in an informal group, every member may be as important as any other member.
In a formal group, the relationship between the members is professional; they gather just to accomplish the task allotted to them. On the other hand, in an informal group, there is a personal relationship between members; they share their opinions, experiences, problems, information with each other.
In a formal group, the flow of communication is restricted due to the unity of command. In contrast to an informal group, the flow of communication stretches in all directions, there is no such restriction.
EXAMPLES OF FORMAL GROUPS
Sports teams, scout teams, schools, churches, the police force, trade unions, etc.
EXAMPLES OF INFORMAL GROUPS
Boys on a block, a group playing dominoes, kite-flying children.
CONCEPTS YOU SHOULD NOTE CULTURE
It is the characteristics of a particular group of people, their beliefs, behaviours, objects used and other characteristics common to the members of a particular group or society. It may be further defined by everything from language, religion, cuisine, social habits, to music and arts. In the Caribbean, the culture is influenced by the many groups of people that now make up the population of the countries, creating cultural diversity.
These are groups formed by choice to fulfil or provide some service in the community or support a worthy cause. The Red Cross is a very good example; also the Kiwanis Club.
The members of this group are forced to become members. They have no other alternative or they may be punished for not becoming members. An example includes military enlistment between certain ages.
A custom, practice, relationship, or behavioural pattern of importance in the life of a community or society. Examples are the institutions of marriage and the family.
It is also an established organisation or foundation, especially one dedicated to education, public service or culture.
This is the enforcement of the rules and standards of society that restrict individual action through the inculcation of predictable sanctions, the imposition of formalised means by law or by social pressure.
These are referred to as ‘customs’. They are standards of behaviour that are socially approved but not morally significant. They are norms for everyday behaviour that people follow for the sake of tradition or convenience. Breaking a folkway does not usually have serious consequences. Cultural forms of dress or food habits are examples of folkways.
Norms are the specific cultural expectations for how to behave in a given situation. They are the agreed-upon expectations and rules by which the members of a culture behave. Norms vary from culture to culture, as some things that are considered norms in one culture may not be in another culture.
Mores are strict norms that control moral and ethical behaviour. Mores are norms based on definitions of right and wrong. Unlike folkways, mores are morally significant. People feel strongly about them and violating them typically results in disapproval.
Laws are norms that are formally written down and enforced by an official law-enforcement agency. Driving while drunk, theft, murder, and trespassing are all examples of laws in Caribbean. If violated, the person violating the law pays a fine or goes to jail.
Social Studies Essentials (New Edition), Mervyn Sandy and Stephenson Grayson
1. Discuss three major differences between formal and informal groups.
2. State two reasons why formal and informal groups are necessary in a society.
3. Differentiate between norms and mores, and voluntary and involuntary groups, giving examples.
“A good organisation should have a combination of both the formal and the informal.” -P.J. Phillip