Frontiers in group dynamics : concept, method and reality in social science ; social equilibria and social change

  • One of the byproducts of World War II of which society is hardly aware is the new stage of development which the social sciences have reached. This development indeed may prove to be as revolutionary at the atom bomb. Applying cultural anthropology to modern rather than "primitive" cultures, experimentation with groups inside and outside the laboratory, the measurement of sociopsychological aspects of large social bodies, the combination of economic, cultural, and psychological fact-finding, all of these developments started before the war. But, by providing unprecedented facilities and by demanding realistic and workable solutions to scientific problems, the war has accelerated greatly the change of social sciences to a new development level. The scientific aspects of this development center around three objectives: (1) Integrating social sciences. (2) Moving from the description of social bodies to dynamic problems of changing group life. (3) Developing new instruments and techniques of· social research. Theoretical progress has hardly kept pace with the development of techniques. It is, however, as true for the social as for the physical and biological sciences that without adequate conceptual development, science cannot proceed beyond a certain stage. It is an important step forward that the hostility to theorizing which dominated a number of social sciences ten years ago has all but vanished. It has been replaced by a relatively wide-spread recognition of the necessity for developing better concepts and higher levels of theory. The theoretical development will have to proceed rather rapidly if social science is to reach that level of practical usefulness which society needs for winning the race against the destructive capacities set free by man's use of the llatural sciences. I should like to survey certain concepts and theories which have emerged mainly from experimental research. They concern: (a) Quasi-stationary social equilibria and social changes. (b) Locomotion through social channels. (c) Social feedback processes and social management. The last two of these will be dealt with in a later article. A cursory introductory discussion of certain aspects of the present state of affairs in social science is included here for those readers who are interested in the general background of these concepts and in the problems from which they have sprung.

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Author:Kurt Lewin
Parent Title (English):Human relations
Document Type:Article
Date of Publication (online):2010/11/27
Year of first Publication:1947
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2010/11/27
Page Number:38
First Page:5
Last Page:41
Institutes:keine Angabe Fachbereich / Extern
Dewey Decimal Classification:3 Sozialwissenschaften / 30 Sozialwissenschaften, Soziologie / 300 Sozialwissenschaften
Licence (German):License LogoArchivex. zur Lesesaalplatznutzung § 52b UrhG