Big Rowan Ackison (greensh) wrote,
Big Rowan Ackison

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Group Rules

I've been thinking about groups, probably because I've been investing a lot of energy into figuring out the how/why of my own group interactions.

A group seems to have a minimal of the following components:
  • group leaders

  • group members

  • 'health' of the group as a whole

Groups are defined by their charter and their inclusion of some and exclusion of others. Demarcation of the inner and outer define the boundaries of the group. The charter of the group defines the expected traits, behaviors and responsibility of the members. The charter does not have to be written. It can exist in a tradition of expectations. Either way, the charter outlines the hierarchy of the group with rules for both the groups's goals and governance. This is all a fancy way to say that a group exists for a purpose, people have their place, and there are established ways of holding the group together.

It can be great to be a member of a group. I am now of the opinion that the human animal craves recognition and acceptance. The variances of this move some people to be leaders and others much lower, but all are in a group for selfish reasons. The group can have a lofty goal, but at the end of the day this is secondary to the needs of the members of the group. This sounds extreme, but consider that the unrestrained extension of the group would invariably cause the dissolution of the group. A cup of water is lost in the volume of the ocean. Structure supports the continued existence of the group even as it directs the outward focus of the group.

What is the practical application of these theories? I am transitioning away from a group because my 'style' was not congruent or complimentary with the supporting structure of the group. I can hold little anger against the group if I see their actions as extensions of their charter. I have a LJ friend who is being asked to leave their group. My friend has not done nothing 'wrong' to my knowledge, but they don't seem to be matching to the goals/philosophy of their previous group. For myself and my friend, the recognition and healthy acknowledgment of mismatching pictures can be liberating.

Another LJ friend recently illustrated where mismatches to a group can be a negative impact. He wrote about the homeless, and how they don't 'fit' into the structure of work and 'self-substantiveness'. Society has certain requirements for people to interact with others. These are the least requirements that society expects. For those working, these include showing up on time, getting along with co-workers, following directions, and generally being productive. This is the 'work' set of rules. Other groups have their own rules. The church group may expect somebody to be clean (enough), not to talk when the minister is talking, and don't pick fights with anybody. These are examples of groups with a set of rules defining their charter and purpose. People are excluded from the group when the people cannot, or will not, match these expectations. It's not 'right' for the homeless to experience this, but it is part of some group dynamic.

Groups have the challenge of maintaining their existence while interacting with outsiders. An even greater challenge of a group is governance of its inner parts in support of the group's charter. People can be outside a group by choice or circumstance. The life of an outsider can be difficult, liberating, or both. Not everyone is compatible with every group charter. Blessingly there are many groups to choose from. The truly ambitious outsiders can start their own groups. In some ways the outsiders are a group of their own. I don't think the human being can go very far without experiencing some aspect of the group dynamic.
Tags: groups, humanity

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