Advances in Group Processes: Volume 19


Table of contents

(10 chapters)

List of contributors

Pages vii-viii
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Pages ix-xii
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The study of group cohesion has a rich but confused history. Cohesion was originally a group-level concept, referring to the degree to which a group tends to maintain a stable, committed membership over time. As a largely psychological literature developed, however, an increasing focus on interpersonal attraction translated into the individual-level study of liking and interdependence. Recent advances in both psychology (Hogg, 1992) and sociology (Lawler & Yoon, 1996) usefully reassert the central role of social structure in determining a group's cohesiveness. We argue, however, that current approaches have enriched our understanding of intraindividual processing at the expense of the sociological understanding of the coevolution of groups and their members' networks within a larger community structure. We review the literature on this ecology of affiliation to draw inferences about both group cohesiveness and members' attachment to the group. Then we extend a theoretical simulation of these ecological processes to show how system-level properties of communities can influence group cohesion.

This paper introduces a theory of group solidarity and a method for measuring it. Solidary groups are characterized by strong internal monitoring and sanctioning systems, strong intra-group ties, high exit costs, and lack of information about resources outside the group. This analysis suggests that all these attributes derive from the choice to invest differentially in social relationships within the group rather than forming cross-cutting ties. To explain variations in solidarity across groups thus requires an account of the conditions that favor intra-group ties. Drawing on a formal theory of collective action, the analysis shows how the return from investments in intra-group ties varies based on the shape of the production function for the collective goods produced by the group. The proposed measure of group solidarity is based on the degree to which the proportion of intra-group ties exceeds that which would be expected were ties formed randomly. The theory of group solidarity and the measurement procedures are illustrated using data from a survey of 488 injection drug users in Connecticut.

Drawing on Game Theory, Elementary Theory, and Status Characteristics Theory, this paper offers a theoretical model for a social group that is solidary and cohesive. The group has an economy, a social structure and a cultural structure. Applying Game Theory, economic conditions for solidarity are found. Within those conditions are groups that can be solidary if their social dilemma is resolved. Applying Elementary Theory shows how decentralized norm enforcement solves that social dilemma, but at the cost of second- and higher order free rider problems. Applying Status Characteristics Theory resolves higher order problems. Experiments and ethnographic examples support the analysis.

Explaining the development of group solidarity in status-differentiated groups is an interesting theoretical problem because solidarity is usually considered to stem from positive affect in groups of status equals. Analysis of the evolution of human emotions allows the development of social theory focused on the functions of emotions. Human emotions evolved in tandem with the development of status hierarchies as a dominant form of social organization that function to coordinate the work of individuals in groups. Conflicting emotions generated by inequality and intragroup competition interact in status hierarchies to maintain group solidarity. An experimental test using a direct indicator of group solidarity is proposed.

In this paper we analyze and review the theory of relational cohesion and attendant program of research. Since the early 1990s, the theory has evolved to answer a number of basic questions regarding cohesion and commitment in social exchange relations. Drawing from the sociology of emotion and modern theories of social identity, the theory asserts that joint activity in the form of frequent exchange unleashes positive emotions and perceptions of relational cohesion. In turn, relational cohesion is predicted to be the primary cause of commitment behavior in a range of situations. Here we outline the theory of relational cohesion, tracing its development through the present day, and summarize the corpus of empirical evidence for the theory's claims. We conclude by looking ahead to future projects and discussing some of the more general issues informed by our work.

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This paper discusses two mechanisms through which social embeddedness can affect trust among actors in cooperative relations. Trust can be based on past experiences with a partner or trust can be built on possibilities for sanctioning an untrustworthy trustee through own or third-party sanctions. These two mechanisms are labeled learning and control. The mechanisms are often left implicit or discussed in isolation in earlier research. Learning and control can operate at different levels: at the dyadic level and at the network level. We argue that for understanding trust the two mechanisms should be studied simultaneously, theoretically as well as empirically. We show that this is more easily said than done by addressing some of the theoretical as well as empirical issues. We offer preliminary evidence of the simultaneous working of the learning and control mechanisms at the dyadic level and the network level.

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The causes and consequences of loyalty and disloyalty in groups have received little attention from social psychologists. This chapter analyzes how groups respond to loyalty (defined as staying in a group, even though one could obtain a better outcome by leaving, because staying benefits the group) and disloyalty (defined as leaving a group, because one can obtain a better outcome by doing so, even though leaving harms the group). Attention is given to factors that influence the valence and intensity of group responses to loyalty and disloyalty on the part of both ingroup and outgroup members.

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This paper develops a conversation analytic perspective on social solidarity, focusing on the organized practices through which solidary relations are maintained within interaction. Previous research on preference organization is reviewed and synthesized, and it is demonstrated that this robust mode of organization tends to suppress discordant actions while promoting solidary actions. The suppression of discordant actions involves practices that: (1) mitigate such actions, as well as; (2) minimize the likelihood of their occurrence. Conversely, solidary actions tend to be: (1) not mitigated; and (2) delivered in ways that maximize the likelihood of their occurrence.

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Advances in Group Processes
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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