Understanding Groups

Topics: Psychology, Group dynamics, Human condition Pages: 34 (12342 words) Published: April 20, 2013


Understanding Groups

After going through this unit, you should be able to: • understand what is a group and why study groups • appreciate the characteristic features of primary and secondary groups • appreciate the complementarity of group and the individual • understand the nature of group influences. Structure 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 1.10 1.11 Introduction Why study groups The Description and Nature of Groups The Nature of Constraints Group Processes Group Processes as a Function of Interaction Theoretical Approaches to Groups The Group and The Individual Summary Self-Assessment Questions Further readings



Man is a social animal. The early origin and development of social life among homo sapiens was within-the context of collectives where the sustained human group was a social invention of critical evolutionary importance. The human group originated presumably through mutual interaction among factors such as partial care, the growth of larger brain, development of language, extended childhood, exchange behavior, and play. Once the sustainable group emerged, it became a valuable social form. First, it became a means to accomplish tasks and reach goals that were simply impossible for the individual alone, including the care of the young after the death of the mother, hunting large animals, the spanning of wide charms, building complex structures, conducting communal ceremonies, defending effectively against attack and so on. Second, groups became a source not only of physical sustenance but also of warmth and affection, of tenderness and support, and of a sense of identity and collective security. Third, the group became both a creator and a transmitter of culture, language and technical know-how beliefs and art forms, games and ceremonies, and in general a set of meanings for interpreting existence including life in the group itself. Fourth, human groups each bound together by. mutual trust, became building blocks to be joined together to form larger social units, ranging from small outfit or band, to the clan, the tribe, the city, the society and eventually to the highly complex political and economic organizations which now span the globe. Quite naturally in the face of the new possibilities of, and demands on, these suprastructure, the forms and sustenance of the original groups gave way to radically new forms that have led to today's wide variety of primary and secondary groups. Before proceeding further, let us understand what is meant by primary and secondary groups. According to Dunphy the primary group..is "a group which persists long enough to develop strong emotional attachment between members, at least a set of rudimentary, functionality differentiated roles, and a sub-culture of its own which includes an image of the group as an entity and informal normative system which controls group-relevant action as members". To understand the distinctive processes of primary groups, we need to look not only within these groups but outside them. Consequently one may identify the roles these primary groups play in life. Whether life in such groups is easy going and pleasant or turbulent and disturbing, members tend to be attached one another, to be significant" to one another, as it would be indicated by sense of personal loss. When a member is separated from the group like in a family such primary groups are at one end of a scale. At the other, impersonal end of the scale


Group Dynamics

indicated by sense of personal loss. When a member is separated from the group like in a family such primary groups are at one end of a scale. At the other, impersonal end of the scale are secondary groups whose values is largely extrinsic. They are organized chiefly to get a job done, to produce object or services that have exchanged value, usually for outsiders. Performance according to standard Of effectiveness or excellence taken precedence...
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