Issues in Interdisciplinarity 2019-20/Truth in the Formation of Social Groups

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Human interaction and development are governed by our social groupings. Commonly, a social group is defined as two or more people who interact with one another, share similar characteristics, and collectively have a sense of unity[1]. Social groups are considered to have followed a gradual evolution, originating from couples and developing into clans and larger communities. Although their existence and progression is undeniable, how exactly do you explain their formation? Various approaches can be adopted to study this topic. Disciplines such as geography, biology, psychology and sociology have come up with different explanations for this phenomenon. While some of these are sources of contradiction, others on the contrary, compliment one another and help us understand where truth resides in the formation of social groups.

Geographical Perspective[edit]

Biology and Behaviour[edit]

Humans are biological beings, and this fact alone makes biological sciences relevant to social behaviour and, therefore, to our predisposition to commit to social groups, which can be studied from an empirical point of view. Positivist approaches have been used in order to determine the molecular analyses of social interaction, including a broad array of animal models, and the use of William syndrome to study the influence of a selected group of genes on our social behaviour. In the first case, experiments in fruit flies concluded that genes influence the social behaviour of an individual through their effects on brain development and physiology, this linkage being sensitive to both genetic and environmental variation and to their interaction. (Fig 3). In the latter case, scientists used schizophrenia disorders patient-derived stem cell models to investigate the true cellular effects of our genes that influence our social behaviour, and therefore, our need to engage in a social group. This further helped scientists to identify which genes have an impact on our social behaviour and they found that common polymorphisms in the gene GTF2I found in the William syndrome deletion area, are associated with reduced anxiety in the general population. Although biological studies on humans relating to the formation of social groups haven’t been conclusive thus far, biology plays an incontestable part in human behaviour and therefore in all its manifestations.

Psychological Perspective[edit]

The need to belong often referred to as “belongingness”, is an intrinsic motivation for humans to interact with others and be socially accepted, also causing phenomena such as social comparison and self-representation as a means to conform to social groups they wish to join. ( According to humanist psychologist Abraham Maslow’s concept of a hierarchy of needs, belongingness, along with physiological, security, and esteem needs are characterised as a “deficiency need”—it’s a basic need that must be satisfied to achieve a comfortable life. ( (Theory of Human Motivation, Maslow) Then need to form social bonds and groups is part of our instincts and as important as securing necessities such as food, and shelter. The phenomena can be seen in ages as early as infants, who form social bonds without knowledge of their social world or the benefits or costs that come with forming that social bond. When a close bond is formed among people, a cognitive “merging” effect occurs, where the boundaries between themself and their partners break down and they start to incorporate aspects of their partner into their self-identity. Furthermore, people experience a reluctance to break social bonds even when the relationship is a wholly negative experience. The need to establish social bonds stems from the theory that forming social groups were an integral part of survival in ancestral history. The likelihood of surviving drastically increased when being in a part of a social group, whether it be that it provided security in times of danger or it was easier to reproduce. ( ( (The need to belong, Baumeister & Leary)

Sociological Perspective[edit]

According to Lexico (Oxford dictionary), sociology can be defined as “the study of the development, structure, and functioning of human society”. In simpler words, societies are simply big social groups. Therefore, sociology appears to be an adequate discipline to study truth in the formation of social groups.

In sociology there are different types of social groups :primary, secondary, membership/reference.

Solidarity is defined by Cambridge Dictionary as an “agreement between and support for the members of a group”. Or merriam webster : unity (as of a group or class) that produces or is based on community of interests, objectives, and standards

According to Emile Durkheim, french sociologist of the late 19th / early 20th century, traditional societies are relatively homogenous. Individual differences are limited and social divisions appear to be essentially based on kinship, age and sex. Social cohesion relies on mechanical solidarity, which is founded on resemblance between individuals and their conformity to traditional social norms, values and roles. Hence a person that did not follow these … or was to be different in any way was often excluded from the groups (gingers and “witches”) However, in complex and often more modern societies, the process of division of labour has proven to provoke the differentiation of individuals and modify the bases of social cohesion. Indeed “mechanical solidarity” is generally replaced by “organic solidarity” (=more specialised + more independent). “Whereas the previous type implies that individuals resemble each other, this type presumes their difference”. Nevertheless, mechanical solidarity, as stated by american sociologist, Neil Smelser, is still present today. Indeed certain forms of regroupment, based on strong degrees of similarity (such as family) or relative degrees (professional organisations) persist.

Often times social groups formed based on age, sex, way of life … Today with the rise of globalisation and social media creation of “social groups” formed of people from all over the world, different cultures, different languages, different ages, but similar interests…

However, sociology is not an exact science. It is based on assumptions and theories and rarely neutral. Indeed it is easy to guess one's political views for instance based on the writing he/she produces. Rather subjective science. Based on pragmatism