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Article

Mark J. Macgowan

This entry is an overview of group dynamics relevant for group work practice. The history of small group theory and group dynamics is described. The bulk of the entry is dedicated to discussing four main areas of group dynamics: communication and interaction, interpersonal attraction and cohesion, social integration (power, influence, norms, roles, status), and group development. How these might vary according to gender, race, ethnicity, and culture is included. The entry ends with a discussion of trends and needs for further research.

Article

Charles Stangor

Group process refers to the behaviors of the members of small working groups (usually between three and twelve members) as they engage in decision-making and task performance. Group process includes the study of how group members’ characteristics interact with the behavior of group members to create effective or ineffective group performance. Relevant topics include the influences of group norms, group roles, group status, group identity, and group social interaction as they influence group task performance and decision-making, the development and change of groups over time, group task typologies, and decision-making schemes. Relevant group outcomes include group cohesion, process losses and process gains in performance, free riding, ineffective information sharing, difficulties in brainstorming, groupthink, and group polarization. Other variables that influence effective group process include group member diversity, task attractiveness, and task significance. A variety of techniques are used to improve group process.

Article

Groups  

Charles D. Garvin and Maeda J. Galinsky

This overview highlights the current status of group practice, examines the conceptual frameworks for working with groups, reviews the status of group work practice research, and identifies challenges for practice. The discussion examines how the numerous frameworks in social work with groups are joined by adherence to a systemic perspective, an understanding of group dynamics, common intervention concepts, and processes important to phases of intervention. While group work writings and practice have always emphasized the importance of opposing injustices, recent literature has taken a strong position on how group work theory and practice are related to the pursuit of social justice. Although recent studies on social group work are characterized by increasing attention to design, data collection, and analysis, research is still at a developing stage. The discussion of challenges points to areas that are of special importance in current and future practice, including diversity in composition, a commitment to attaining social justice, changing membership, involuntary membership, new professional roles, and use of technology.

Article

Ronald W. Toseland and Heather Horton

This entry begins with a brief history of group work in the United States. Next, there is a description of the wide range of treatment and task groups used by social workers. This is followed by a discussion of group dynamics, diversity and social justice issues. Then, there is a brief overview of the developmental stages that groups go through and widely used practice models. The chapter concludes with a brief review of the evidence base for the effectiveness of group work practice.

Article

Craig Winston LeCroy and Jenny McCullough Cosgrove

Research has shown groups are an efficient and effective modality for interventions with school-aged children. Psychoeducational and psychotherapeutic groups are frequently used to guide children in areas such as skills training, emotional regulation, violence prevention, and grief. There are key developmental questions to consider when working with children that take into consideration factors such as cognitive development and emotional maturity. Overall, groups can be an efficient and effective intervention in the school setting for use by school social workers.

Article

Maryann Syers

William Schwartz (1916–1982) was a social work educator who contributed to the theory and practice of group work as a developmental and rehabilitative force for mutual aid. He was a visiting professor at Fordham University from 1977 to 1982.

Article

There are trends in the use of teams in the classroom that stimulate both theory development and pedagogical innovation in this important area. In particular, three classroom applications are (1) building group process skills, (2) developing team leaders, and (3) using teams to learn course content. Of particular interest are new possibilities for utilizing leadered rather than leaderless groups, systematizing team coaching interventions, and enriching team-based learning. In this field of study, it is clear that pedagogical innovation and theoretical development interact to enhance student learning. Continued exploration in both aspects is encouraged.

Article

Kendra DeLoach McCutcheon

Social workers have a responsibility to challenge discrimination and promote social and economic justice. To fulfill this responsibility, it must be understood how discrimination exists and the detrimental affect it has on the relationship between individuals who are disenfranchised (targeted groups) and individuals who have privilege, resources, and power (advantaged groups) (Hardiman & Jackson, 2007). This entry will present an overview of discrimination, define the various forms of discrimination, present public policy and legislation regarding discrimination, and discuss implications for social workers and the profession.

Article

David E. Rast III and Christine Kershaw

Although social influence and leadership are inextricably intertwined, with a few notable exceptions, they are typically discussed in isolation from one another. The overlap of methods of social influence and theories of leadership, however, makes it clear these topics should be discussed together. Furthermore, the involvement of group norms, which are group-based social constructs related to values within the group, clearly link leadership and social influence research. Group norms are involved in social influence via such group-oriented influences as conformity, and they are involved in leadership by setting the values used to determine the group’s leader. Understanding the relationship between and the potential limitations of social influence and leadership will provide researchers in both fields with a stronger foundation for future areas of inquiry.

Article

This article presents an overview of group work with adolescents and examines how social justice is an important consideration in such work. It discusses the kinds of issues faced by adolescents and how group work assists them in coping with these. Both support and treatment groups are described along with citations of empirical evidence of their effectiveness. A typology of treatment approaches is included as well as details of the phases of the group work process.

Article

Briance Mascarenhas and Megan Mascarenhas

A strategic group is defined as a set of firms within an industry pursuing a similar strategy. The strategic group concept emerged with much promise over 40 years ago. Research on strategic groups over time in a broad variety of settings has sought to clarify their theoretical and empirical properties. These research findings are gradually being translated into practical managerial guidance, so that the strategic group concept can be understood, operationalized, and used productively by managers. Two main approaches exist for identifying strategic groups—a ground-up approach, using disaggregated data, and a top-down, using cognition. Once identified, managerial insights can be derived from clarifying a strategic group’s profile. Firm membership in a group helps to uncover immediate and more distant types of competitors. Group profitability differences reveal the more rewarding and less attractive areas within an industry, as well as identify the lower-return groups from where firm exits are likely to occur. Group dynamics reflect competitive and cooperative behavior within and between groups. Several promising areas for future research on strategic groups to improve understanding and practice of strategy.

Article

Network analysis is increasingly applied throughout the social sciences. Networks have been at the core of criminological thinking since its inception. As early as Sutherland and Shaw and McKay, networks have been regarded as important causes of delinquent behavior. Networks, by definition, reflect patterns of relationships between observations. Observations are typically human actors, but can represent any criminologically relevant entity, such as gangs, grocery stores, or street corners. Networks can even represent connections between actors that occupy distinct roles (e.g., connections between people and places). This flexibility in how networks can be defined and analyzed presents innumerable promising opportunities in the analysis of crime. Networks can influence criminal behavior by influencing selection into delinquent peer networks and by transmitting delinquent values and behaviors. While some of the earliest adopters of network methods turned to analyses of peer group context and delinquency, more recent applications examine the generative forces driving criminal organization dynamics, gang violence, and even social order among prison inmates. Some other visionary research examines how networks in physical space affect the distribution of crime, and some studies now suggest that networks act as an important mechanism linking formal sanctioning to recidivism. This body of recent evidence stands in contrast to general theories of crime, which argue that networks have little causal influence on criminal behavior. In contrast, selection into delinquent peer networks amplifies criminal behavior through both learning and opportunity.

Article

Seong-Jae Min

Leaderless group decision-making denotes the idea that political decisions from a non-hierarchical discussion structure can be more legitimate and effective than those from a hierarchical structure. Since the latter half of the 20th century, such decision-making has been practiced widely in community groups, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), “deliberation” forums, as well as in the business and management settings. While one may argue its origins go back to Athenian direct democracy, it was the zeal of the 1960s participatory democracy movement in the United States that produced the more sophisticated principles, philosophies, and mechanics of leaderless group decision-making. The progressive social movement activists at that time considered non-hierarchical groups as ethically appropriate to their causes. Since then, this tradition of leaderless group decision-making processes has been adopted in many grassroots social movements. Debates and controversies abound concerning leaderless group decision-making. It has been a normative imperative for many social activists to adopt decision-making in a leaderless manner. Research to date, however, has produced no conclusive evidence that leaderless group discussion results in better or more effective decisions. Proponents argue that members of a leaderless group would develop greater capacities for self-governance because in such a setting they can take more personal and egalitarian initiatives to organize activities of the group. This, in turn, would lead to better group dynamics and discussion, and, eventually, better decisions. Critics suggest that leaderless groups are slow and inflexible in decision-making and that the supposedly leaderless groups usually end up with leaders because of the social dynamics and human nature present in group interactions. Regardless of its potential benefits and problems, the ideals of deliberative and participatory democracy are strongly propelling this egalitarian, discourse-based form of group decision-making. Researchers will gain a great deal of insight from literature in deliberation concerning the functions, problems, and future directions of leaderless groups. In addition, there is a need to study leaderless groups in a more multi-faceted way, as research to date has been dominated by psychology-based quantitative assessment of groups. Qualitative and ethnographic approaches will be helpful to further assess the dynamics of leaderless group decision-making.

Article

Sheldon R. Gelman

Celia B. Weisman (1918–2000), professor emerita at Yeshiva University’s Wurzweiler School of Social Work, was a pioneer in advocacy on behalf of the elderly both nationally and internationally.

Article

Teams  

Julie Abramson and Laura R. Bronstein

Teams maximize the coordinated expertise of various professionals. Social work skills used with clients, especially contracting, monitoring team processes, managing conflict, creating a climate of openness, and developing and supporting group cohesion, need to be purposefully utilized in practice with teams. Social workers can improve team functioning by supporting families and clients as active team members and by addressing ethical issues, including confidentiality and the competence and ethics of team members. Although there is some outcome-based research on teams, more is needed. Emerging trends in this field include embedding the notion of teams in a wider web of collaborative activities, including those mandated by the Affordable Care Act, and giving attention to teams as a vital part of social work education.

Article

The end of the Viet Nam war, officially concluded on April 30, 1975, created a global diaspora from the Southeast Asian region. The geographic diversity reflects equally the diversity in language, religion, and ethnicity in the people who settled in the United States. The inherent diversity in refugee experiences and personal backgrounds has produced unequal personal and social adjustment among the three ethnic groups in their resettlement over the years. In general, Southeast Asian refugees have attained social integration as their offspring are developing an ethnic identity as members of the second- or third-generation of U.S.-born Americans.

Article

Joseph Walsh

Psychoeducation, which describes a range of direct interventions that are focused on participants' education, support, and coping skills development, has become extremely popular in social work practice since the 1970s. Such programs are delivered in many service settings and with many types of client populations. This article includes a definition of the term, a review of its origins in social work practice, its range of applications, the practice theories, and professional values from which it draws, and a review of the research evidence for its utility.

Article

Linda Adler

Beulah Rothman (1924–1990) was associate dean and director of the doctoral program at Adelphi University School of Social Work. She was a leader in the field of group work and a curriculum consultant to many schools of social work.

Article

Maryann Syers

Dorothea C. Spellman (1907–1979) headed the group work specialization at the Graduate School of Social Work, University of Denver. Her primary contributions were in group work and as an advocate for a unified profession.

Article

Over the past 30 years, researchers studying group dynamics in sport have provided insight regarding the importance of considering a team’s environment, structure, and processes for its effective functioning. An emergent property resulting from activities within the group is cohesion. Cohesion is a dynamic property reflecting members’ perceptions of the unity and personal attractions to task and social objectives of the group. Generally speaking, cohesion remains a highly valued group property, and a strong body of evidence exists to support positive links to important individual and group outcomes such as adherence and team performance. Given the importance attached to cohesion and other group variables for sport teams, coaches and athletes often attempt to engage in activities that facilitate group functioning. Team building is a specific approach designed to facilitate team effectiveness and individual members’ perceptions of their group. Cohesion has been the primary target of team-building interventions in sport, although recent work on team-building outcomes suggested that the effects of these interventions on cohesion may be limited. The most effective team-building approaches include a goal setting protocol, last at least two weeks in duration, and target a variety of outcomes in addition to cohesion, including individual cognitions and team performance. There is a clear need to identify a team’s requirements prior to intervening (i.e., a targeted approach), consider a variety of approaches to team building, and investigate the effects of team building via more stringent research methods.