Sociology, Groups and Organisations

  • Peter R. Day
Part of the Practical social work series book series (PSWS)


Systems theorists say that two basic problems, allocation and integration, face all groups. Human capacities and resources, facilities for the performance of roles (including power) and rewards (prestige and approval) must be allocated. If this problem is not dealt with successfully, that is when allocation impedes co-operation, a social system may disintegrate. The problem of integration follows from the need for allocation. There must be a sufficient complementarity of roles and clusters of roles for collective and personal goals to be effectively pursued, and for conflict among individuals to be kept within bounds (Parsons and Shils, 1951). The focus on the role structure (i.e. the group as a social system) has led to interpersonal processes in groups being studied on certain distinct levels. These are behaviour, emotions, norms, group goals and group values. Behaviour is the overt action of a person in the presence of others. Emotions are the drives experienced by a person and the feelings she has about others and about what happens. Norms are ideas about what a person should do, feel or express. Goals are ideas about what a group as a collective should do.


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© British Association of Social Workers 1987

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  • Peter R. Day

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