Affinity group is formal or informal group of people with similar interest, for example hobby, policy, social clubs, writing circles. People which belong to affinity group must have a lot in common. That kind of group must have non-commercial goals and have not political connection. Members of the affinity group discuss matters of shared identity (C. Segal 2013, s.743–779). They can be friends or strangers. Some affinity groups ale more formal and organized, may have a hierarchy for long term-interests or to transfer responsibilities to other members, but some affinity groups are non-hierarchical. Affinity groups started to work in XIX and XX century in Spain, during the anarchist movement. Later groups of people formed regional federation. The purpose of affinity group includes two categories, emotional and instrumental. Groups can provide an emotional support, thanks to relationships built in affinity groups, people feel less lonely with their emotions and feel better with themselves (J. Parsons, K. Ridley 2012, s.40). Affinity groups may include people which share the same identity characteristic, for example African American affinity group. In that affinity all members must identify as African American (M. Lambertz-Berndt 2016). Membership of affinity groups can be close or open. Membership include supporters who care about equal rights, racial equality, gender. Sometimes groups with basis of affinity are better with support than groups which do not share the same bonds. Common bond in affinity group can be ideology, interest, skills, problems. Some affinity groups charge fees. Outside a workplace, affinity groups also fulfill the tasks as a support group (L. Goldberg 1990). Due to the emotional motives raised by the allied groups, participants can share their identity traits (M. Conger 2012, s.87). People gathering in one place and one time feel united. Affinity groups forming in workplaces provides employees a convenient place to meet and share ideas outside the office. They share a common identity, defined by race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or shared extra-organizational values or interests. Affinity groups appeared in big companies in 70's. Affinity groups can take many forms. Discrimination or separation from others in the workplace can lead to the unification of people, create an affinity group.
What is good about affinity groups?
Work in affinity groups may be much more productive, enjoyable, and can develop members as well as entire organization. There are other advantages, including:
- employees need a place for support for identity and discuss about workplaces, make relationships, facilitate positive identity exploration, self-awareness, pride, and self-esteem
- in affinity group everyone is equal
- thanks to the fact that everyone can make a decision, everyone feels responsible for the group and involved
- another important aspect in the work of affinity groups is the fact that they have autonomy and operate on their own.
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- Parsons J., Ridley K. (2012), Identity, Affinity, Reality: Making the Case for Affinity Groups in Elementary School, Independent School, v71 n2
- Segal C. (2013), Misbehaviour, Education and Lobour Market Outcomes, Journal of the European Economic Association vol.11, i.4
Author: Aleksandra Marcinkowska, Paulina Jurusik, Justyna Niemiec