Groups in Harmony and Tension: An Integration of Studies on Intergroup Relations

Groups in Harmony and Tension: An Integration of Studies on Intergroup Relations

Groups in Harmony and Tension: An Integration of Studies on Intergroup Relations

Groups in Harmony and Tension: An Integration of Studies on Intergroup Relations

Excerpt

In the present state of human affairs, the problem of intergroup relations has come irrevocably to the foreground. No other problem today is as important as that of intergroup relations for social psychologists, sociologists, political scientists, as well as for men who find themselves dealing with this problem in a practical way. Both theoretical and practical treatment of human relations necessarily brings in its train considerations of relations among groups. For groups today are no longer closed systems. The unmistakable effects of intergroup relations as they unfold are reflected even in the shaping of policies within separate groups. In fact intergroup relations have an impact in such personal matters as planning family expenditures, whether for a car or a vacation or a college education.

On the theoretical side, the social psychologist can no longer restrict his treatment of group processes simply to intra group aspects. The functional relationships among groups have brought increasing interdependence. The understanding of policies and practices prevailing within groups will be inadequate unless relations among them are brought into the picture. If this be the case, it may be that study of relations within groups and between groups are no longer distinct topics to be treated independently of one another. If there is truth in the oft-repeated, but infrequently observed, household dictum of social psychologists that processes can be understood only in their appropriate settings, then the study of group units necessarily involves the setting of intergroup relations.

Recognition of the import of intergroup relations in contemporary study of group processes need not lead to neglecting intragroup processes or the properties of single participating members within them. In our opinion it is feasible to give due attention to the effects of the intergroup setting without losing sight of the . . .

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