Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Boys-Psychology, Social groups, Group identity, Social interaction, Group(s), Cohesion, Cohesiveness, Swarms, Groupwork, Self-organization, Realistic conflict, Latency, Child, Children, Flocks, Schools, Task cohesion, Social cohesion, Homogeneity, Attractors


This thesis is an interdisciplinary theoretical deconstruction of cohesion among groups of latency aged boys. Process research on the development of cohesion among informally organized groups of latency aged boys is lacking. Also, much of cohesion research is adult-oriented, rather than child-oriented. This project seeks to elucidate some of the hows of cohesion among this population by applying a biological theory examining cohesion among aggregates of animals to a social psychological theory considering cohesion among latency aged boys. It is the author's hope that such an approach will yield valuable insights into the mechanisms of cohesion and its facilitation, while increasing validity for both theories through a complimentary dialogue. Realistic conflict theory, developed by Muzafer Sherif on the basis of a 1961 large-scale, ambitious experiment involving two groups of latency aged boys, hypothesizes about intergroup relations. It addresses the features of small cohesive groups, and examines the role of superordinate tasks in facilitating cohesion between individuals and between groups. Applied to realistic conflict theory will be self organizational theory, which seeks to deconstruct group-level, emergent phenomenon and pattern, and to discover the principles, mechanisms, and properties of self-organized animal groups. The product of this exercise will feature a formula for balancing task and social cohesion given the initial homogeneity of the group, and recommendations about both increasing cohesion and interrupting a positive cohesion feedback loop. Finally, there will be an exploration of the most effective implementation of superordinate tasks to facilitate task cohesion in groups of latency aged boys.




iv, 85 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2009. Includes bibliographical references (p. 82-85)