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Human Nature & Group Dynamics
In this book, I make frequent references to the local group and emphasize the importance of group activity and group identity. The aptitude and skills required for affiliations and bonding originated with interactions in small groups. Our tendencies developed in small hunter-gatherer groups; with humans who knew each other and depended on each other to find food, protect the young and defend the group from predators.
Rather than viewing society and culture as real things, an observer can recognize that humans live in groups that repeat and modify innate behaviors to produce prolific variations on a few underlying themes that are common to all societies. A smart observer will consider the grouping characteristics of humans and discern basic patterns and problems underlying the apparent complexity of modern civilization. The organization of society begins with small local clusters that link family groups into clans that are more or less cooperative units. Clans associate, forming bands that tend to affiliate with other bands forming tribes, looser affiliations that occupy larger geographic areas. The band-tribal structure emerges from ancient animal groupings.
Patterns of organization, rules, and institutions that regulate human behavior are in flux and will continue to be unstable. As human populations expand and interactions become increasingly complex, innate abilities are stretched and distorted. The ability of individuals to relate to other humans remains limited and limits the effective management of enlarging groups. Managers and leaders do not become smarter as the organizations they lead become larger. It is axiomatic that organizations that exceed a threshold number become dysfunctional. It is matter of empirical study to recognize group size thresholds, and too little is known about the cognitive limitations of leaders.
At the level of the largest organizations, small groups decide on policy and procedures that effect many nations, even the fate the entire species. International negotiations often involve numbers of people in crowded assembles such as the United Nations. When crises arise and critical issues need resolution, the best results are often achieved by single individuals or small groups who intervene above and beyond the complexities of rules and the rituals of large assemblies and work out a deal. Individuals can make deals and settle disputes when other more complex and impersonal negotiations fail.
The tendency to impose rules and policies from the top down is, however, risky because individuals and small groups cannot understand the needs, values and beliefs of large numbers of local groups. World-wide policies will tend to fail since they emerge from limited understanding and ignore the tendency for humans to relate most strongly to a small local group. At the deepest level, humans discriminate and select only a few humans out of many to trust and share time and space.
In modern urban communities, humans of many descriptions come together to learn, work, and play. They pass through a common space every day. Strangers are ignored or actively avoided. A ride on an elevator reveals a remarkable innate resistance to interaction with strangers. Most humans feel tense and awkward in an elevator and avoid eye contact with other riders. If you override this strong tendency and say something to your fellow riders, the tension builds, and everyone is focused on getting out of the elevator as soon as possible
Persona Digital Books
Human Nature & Group Dynamics is a 21st century description of anthropology, sociology and psychology - disciplines that need to be integrated as they are in this book. The topics are essential to understanding human nature, its origins and its problems. You could treat each topic as module of a larger system that develops emergent properties as the modules interact. Each reader discovers the features of human nature in himself or herself and then discovers similar features in others. After you understand more about the dynamics of close relationships, you can look at larger groups. You can continue by applying your insights into human dynamics to governments, countries and international affairs. Other Persona Digital books describe the same dynamics but emphasize different vantage points and concerns.
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Human Nature & Group Dynamics is one volume in the Psychology & Philosophy series, developed by Persona Digital Books. We encourage readers to quote and paraphrase topics from Group Dynamics published online and expect proper citations to accompany all derivative writings. The author is Stephen Gislason and the publisher is Persona Digital Books. The most recent date of publication is 2011 rev 4/10/2011. The URL to the book description is http://www.personadigital.net/Persona/groupdynamics/
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