Groupwork Theory [*]
we may look at groups from many different perspectives which are conceptually
distinct. These perspectives can each add a different dimension to our
understanding. What follows is a very brief summary of some of the different
perspectives which have developed about groups.
we envisage the group as a structure we are likely to ask such questions as:
are the patterns of relationships which exist between the members of this group?
sub-groupings exist and how are they related?
tele (paradigm) is operating?
there stars/isolates, are there factors in the way the group has been set up or
structured by the leaders which are constraining members' behaviour?
might find some help in thinking about these questions in sociometry or in
we might think about the group in terms of roles.
we might ask what is the division of roles in the group?
would he interested in issues of function, expectation and inter-dependency.
This sort of approach might, for instance, he used in team building to look at
how different people can each make contributions which may complement one
another. Some useful theoretical material might he found in role theory, systems
theory, and sociology.
we might think of a group as a developing process.
might then ask what stage of development has this group reached?
is the overall lifespan of this group and how is its age affecting its
did the present characteristics of the group evolve out of the previous stages
and how do they pave the way for future developments?
and Lungren's ideas about group stages might help us.
we might think about what is consciously or unconsciously preoccupying this
it behaving as if certain assumptions held?
issues like safety or inclusion or power or rules affecting what is being talked
about in ways that are unrecognised by the group members themselves?
such issues affecting the choice of language or symbolism or metaphors employed?
For instance, if a member of the group is holding everybody's attention at
length with a description of a film he saw about a family break up, is this
because the group members sense a threat to the integrity of the group itself
which they cannot face discussing openly.
theory might help us with some of these issues.
we might think about the group norms.
might ask what rules seem to be operating and how were these established?
would have the power to change them?
are they evolving?
are they seemingly designed to achieve?
we might think about the group, in terms of its implicit or explicit task.
this a group in which there is a preset agenda or not?
this a group in which one person holds the floor or "works" for a time
and then another takes over or is it one in which the members all interact
fluidly and continuously?
this group concerned with here and now issues or with there and then ones?
there a shared sense of purpose?
we might think about the group in terms of its psychodynamics.
we would ask: What sentiments and motives lie behind the behaviour of the group
what way are processes of rivalry, jealousy, identification, differentiation,
power seeking, projection, dependency, transference, etc. affecting the
individuals in this group?
can the group be understood on the analogy of a family?
theory might help.
we might look at the interactions between group members functionally.
do these interactions relate to the task of the group?
they functional or dysfunctional?
sociological theory such as Bales Interaction Analysis might help.
we might look at the interactions qualitatively.
Are thoughts expressed?
[This article has been reproduced from the free resources section of the Elements website which may be found at http://www.elementsuk.com]