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Group Processes

Jeffrey W. Lucas

Subject Psychology
Social Psychology » Sociology of Groups

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405124331.2007.x


Sociology's group processes perspective is one of the three “faces” of sociological social psychology ( Smith-Lovin & Molm 2000 ). The perspective is characterized by theoretical development and basic research on fundamental social processes that occur in group contexts. Work in the group processes tradition dates to scholars who were interested in the interactions of individuals in small groups. As the perspective has developed, its focus has largely evolved to an interest in the processes that occur in group contexts rather than in groups themselves. Much of the work in sociology's group processes tradition has its roots in the work of Bales and colleagues in the 1950s (see, e.g., Bales 1950 ). Bales developed a procedure called interaction process analysis (IPA) to code interactions in groups. The procedure treated each behavior in a group as an “act” and involved classifying acts into various categories. Bales's approach allowed investigators to objectively study interactions in groups and spurred researchers to develop new ways to classify group behavior. A focus on group processes, of course, implies an interest in two things – groups and processes. As the group processes perspective has developed, the focus of the area has shifted to a greater interest in processes than in the groups in which the processes occur. In large part because of the perspective's roots in the ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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