Subscribe to Elucidations:
       

This month, I sit down with Katherine Ritchie (CUNY Graduate Center, City College) to talk about what a social group is. Click here to listen to our conversation.

What is there to being a group of people? Does being in a group basically just mean you’re on the list of people who are in the group, or is there more to it? Our guest this month argues that a group of people isn’t just a selection of people taken at random; rather, it’s a collection of people who stand in different relations to each other. So for example, on a baseball team there’s a pitcher and a catcher, and the pitcher stands in the “I throw the ball at” relation to the catcher. Or in a small company, the CEO stands in the “I am your boss” relation to their employees. What makes a group a group isn’t just who’s in it, but what role each person takes on relative to each other person.

Professor Ritchie has some interesting thoughts about how relatively small groups like sports teams or companies relate to social categories of people, such as women, or men, or South Asian people, or firefighters, or Singaporeans. In particular, she suggests that the latter are more ‘kind-like’ and the former are more ‘object-like.’

Join us this month as we go into what it means to be a social group!

Matt Teichman