Ø Strong research evidence suggests that groups can place strong pressures on individual members to change their attitudes and behaviors to conform to the group’s standard. All groups do not have a equal sway over the members and those that have more influence are referred to as reference groups.
Ø The reference group is characterized as one where the person is aware of the others; the person defines himself or herself as a member, or would like to be a member; and the person feels that the group members are significant to him/her.
Status is a socially defined position or rank given to groups or group members by others.
Inequality is the basis for any created social order where some are more powerful, enjoy greater benefits and also command access to resources differentially. This is also related to the risk taking ability of certain groups / individuals and by virtue of this calculated risk taking ability they amass greater wealth and have superior position (status) in the hierarchy. The same is also true of groups where there is a hierarchy and all members do not enjoy the same status.
Status and norms:
Research shows the following with regard to relationship between status and norms (Robbins):
Ø High-status members of groups often are given more freedom to deviate from norms than other group members.
Ø High-status people also are better able to resist conformity pressures.
Ø The previous findings explain why many star athletes, famous actors, top-performing salespeople, and outstanding academics seem oblivious to appearance or social norms.
Ø When inequity is perceived, it creates disequilibrium that results in corrective behavior.
Ø The trappings of formal positions are also important elements in maintaining equity. Employees expect what an individual has and receives to be congruent with his/her status. For example: pay, office space, etc.
Ø Groups generally agree within themselves on status criteria.
Ø Individuals can find themselves in a conflict situation when they move between groups whose status criteria are different or when they join groups whose members have heterogeneous backgrounds.
Status and culture
Ø Cultural differences affect status. For example, the French are highly status conscious.
Ø Countries differ on the criteria that create status:
Ø Status for Latin Americans and Asians tends to be derived from family position and formal roles held in organizations.
Ø In the United States and Australia, it tends to be bestowed more on accomplishments.
Ø It is necessary to understand who and what holds status when interacting with people from a different culture other than our own.