Reflecting on your own personal experience, discuss the ways in which group membership has influenced you in ways you now regret. Support your analysis by making reference to relevant sociological literature.
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Q1. Reflecting on your own personal experience, discuss the ways in which group membership has influenced you in ways you now regret. Support your analysis by making reference to relevant sociological literature drawn from the first three weeks of the course, almost all of which should be useful. For the purpose of this question this essay will focus on a particular period in my life when I was employed as a Business Manager at Ikea. It is important in the initial part of the paper to give a broad overview of the organisational culture and structure. The next section will cover the connections between the organisation and the types of groups discussed in the Sociology course. We will then move onto consider the group that I was a part of, and assess how this affected both my own and colleagues behaviour (whilst in the group environment and outside the group setting). Finally we will look at any regrets I felt due to being directly influenced by the group. The Ikea organisation is a well-known global company that sells home furnishings. Ikea's founder - Ingvar Kamprad developed the organisation from humble beginnings in his hometown of Småland (a poor county in the southern part of Sweden)
(Giddens, 2001:363). This type of process engendered equality and encouraged communication across the store both vertically and horizontally. Therefore not forming Weber's pyramid of authority, with each level only being responsible for the one below (Giddens, 2001) instead all co-workers were integrated. In my own personal experience I found that in Ikea there were many divorcees and single people. There were also an unusually high number of couples that had met through Ikea and then worked together in the same building. Some of the divorcees openly blamed their relationship break-up on the fact that they work for Ikea; their partners simply did not understand the commitment, in terms of time, that they gave willingly to the company. My own relationship with my partner started to suffer quite soon after the initial 3-month period, I had bonded with my new colleagues and I was enthusiastic and committed to this new way of working my attitude to work and my commitment had changed in favour of Ikea (Festinger, 1957). As a manager it was encouraged that examples should be set by giving that little bit extra to help co-workers across the store, so for example; if the tills were busy at the end of the evening it was an unspoken rule that all managers should stay until closing time to help clear the backlog of customers, this sometimes meant leaving the store an hour and a half after the official end of the day.
Similar to the influence of the majority found in Ikea. Needless to say upon my return I decided to leave Ikea and 3 months later I moved to another job with a different company. In the first few weeks I felt a great sense of great loss almost a grief my regrets were therefore twofold, I felt a regret of leaving the fold of Ikea and also a regret that conflicted with this and that was of not realising sooner my behavioural and attitude changes that had affected my personal life. In summing up this paper we have looked at Ikea and how its culture was aligned to sociological groups. We have covered the way of working within this organisation and how this relates to conformity and group influence again drawing parallels to similar sociological findings. It has been interesting journey to relate this instance where my own personal experience has been influenced by the belonging of a group, especially a group with such strong cultural roots as Ikea. The analogies found in this paper make it more understandable as to how social influences can have such wide-ranging affects on individuals. And how many situations (from the impact of TV on the masses through to major historical events such as the rise of Nazism) can arise. It certainly makes the self and our interaction with others food for thought.
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