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Chapter Twelve - The Fourth Phase: Integrating the New Four Causal Understandings with the Traditional c.1920– c.1960

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 March 2021

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Summary

Now if we turn to a more customary perspective and view our society through the eyes of Earth's inhabitants, we discover that the functioning or malfunctioning of groups is recognized increasingly as one of society's major problems. In business, government, and the military, there is a great interest in improving the productivity of groups. Many thoughtful people are alarmed by the apparent weakening and disintegration of the family. Educators are coming to believe that that they cannot carry out their responsibilities fully unless they understand better how the classroom functions as a social group. Those concerned with social welfare are diligently seeking ways to reduce intergroup conflicts between labor and management and among religious and ethnic groups. The operation of juvenile gangs is a most troublesome obstacle in attempts to prevent crime. It is becoming clear that much mental illness derives in some way from the individual's relations with groups and that groups may be used effectively in mental therapy …

When in the late 1930s group dynamics began to emerge as an identifiable field the empiricist rebellion was well along in social psychology and sociology, and from the outset group dynamics could employ the research methods characteristic of empirical science. In fact, group dynamics is to be distinguished from its intellectual predecessors primarily by its basic reliance on careful observation, quantification, measurement, and experimentation.

But one should not identify group dynamics too closely with extreme empiricism. Even in its earliest days, work in group dynamics displayed an interest in the construction of theory and derivation of testable hypotheses from theory, and it has come progressively to maintain a close interplay between data collection and the advancement of theory.

Dorwin Cartwright and Alvin Zander (1953)

We have here to deal only with the psychological influence of the environment. This does not mean that the somatic effects of environment, for example, of nutrition or climate, do not have great psychological significance. On the contrary, the somatic as well as the psychological influence of the environment is constantly operating on the entire child.

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The Metahistory of Western Knowledge in the Modern Era
Four Evolving Metaparadigms, 1648 to Present
, pp. 187 - 204
Publisher: Anthem Press
Print publication year: 2021

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