The Large Group: Dynamics and Therapy

By Lionel Kreeger | Go to book overview

5. A sociological view of large groups

Earl Hopper and Anne Weyman

This article has several purposes: to introduce certain elements of the sociological perspective which may clarify the nature, or ontological status, of social phenomena and processes, to isolate several properties of large groups as distinct from their members, to provide concepts for their denotation and to discuss their interrelationships. The fact that the present volume includes articles on the large group from many related disciplines makes these tasks both easier and more difficult. They are easier because it is possible to exclude certain topics which are covered elsewhere, but they are more difficult because even this limited approach requires consideration of the most central and vexing problems of sociological theory, which still lacks an adequate language for their discussion. These problems are the focus of the shifting paradigms of competing schools of sociological analysis. In fact, sociology is a large, amorphous, rapidly developing discipline, entertaining many specialities and competing perspectives (it is rather like a large group). From our point of view, it will be sufficient to state what sociology is in principle and to show what it has to offer on this basis for the study of large groups.


What is sociology and the sociological perspective?

No two sociologists would answer this question in the same way, and even if their answers were similar in substance, their terminology would differ. Nor should any two sociologists who are on reasonably good terms be asked to agree, for if they had to do so they would undoubtedly never speak to each other again. However, most sociologists would recognise what they usually get

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