Social Groups as System and Subsystem

Social Groups as System and Subsystem

Social Groups as System and Subsystem

Social Groups as System and Subsystem

Excerpt

This is a theoretical study, concerned with constructs through which we can organize cognitively some aspects of social life.

I am concerned specifically with the possibility and fruitfulness of analyzing human interaction in terms of social systems when one system is located 'inside' another. Initially we may think of this problem as the analysis of those situations where we are members of a group that, together with others, makes up a more inclusive group. When we have to make choices that favor one or the other of these groups, where do our loyalties fall? What are the determinants and the consequences of various choices?

Social life gives a very rich supply of verbal and behavioral expressions of such dilemmas of belongingness and of solutions to them. To give some examples there is the proverb that speaks of 'running with the hare and hunting with the hounds'; the apocryphal Norwegian politician frequently quoted in the saying, 'Skitt I Norge, leve Toten!' (To hell with Norway, long live my district!); the statement of Patrick Henry, patriotic leader, in 1774, 'The distinctions between Virginians, Pennsylvanians, New Yorkers and New Englanders are no more! I am not a Virginian, but an American'; and the alleged statement of Charles E. Wilson, former president of General Motors, when U. S. cabinet member, 'What is good for General Motors is good for the country'.

The study, then, in a way raises the problem of the part and the whole in sociological analysis. It seems certain that if we want to understand human interaction, we have to interpret given acts in terms of their significance in a group, in an organization -- in short, in a social system of which the acting indi-

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.