Talk:Social group

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The edit by is vandalism. I tried to revert it, but there were conflicts and the technical details were a bit beyond my expertise. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:50, 1 March 2010 (UTC)


Archive 1

New edits[edit]

Hey I.S.. Noticed your reversions. Let me explain my most recent edits: they were based around my observation before, that a) the comments earlier in the article / intro have indicated that the Sherif tradition will not be assumed, and hence, less strict forms can be called groups; b) "non-groups" isn't meaningful or precise enough; c) gangs can retrospectively be considered groups by Sherif's definition, anyway. You never replied to those comments, which left me with the itch to make the change. Which of these observations do you disagree with? Lucidish 18:56, 13 March 2006 (UTC)

I disagee with all of them. You continue to misunderstand what I am trying to do, and try to force some unacceptable concepts. I really appreciate all the help you have given in the merger and clean up.But I have reached the end point of my tolerance for all the nit picking in content. I believe you are sincere, and therefore , I would suggest that you write your own article disagreing as much as you like. I suspect you find it easier to edit than to write.

Please let my article alone. I realize that I can't stop you from editing. But I also know that an administrator can give me some protection. I have gone on to writing another article and do not have the time to play this game with you.Islandsage 19:36, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

Huh? What game? I'm not going to write my own article, because that would be redundant (and besides, I don't claim to know the material as you do). I'm not going to abandon trying to improve this one, which I think is very good but could be even better. I'm just trying to get clear what it is you mean, here, because if that's not manifest, then the reader will not understand.
To be completely clear: this isn't your article. It's a Wikipedia article, licensed under GFDL. Nobody owns it: it's free, just like all wikis. Lucidish 01:56, 16 March 2006 (UTC)

Cleanup tag added[edit]

This wiki requires serious copyediting, for both encyclopedic tone and clarity of argument. Terms are used which are confusing, like "non-groups". Lucidish 05:42, 16 March 2006 (UTC)

Complete re-write needed. It also suddenly refers to "sets" which appear to be sub-groups or even groups. In the intro it posits common "identity" as a necessary condition for a group to exist. This is protesting too much and is circular - group entails identity and identity entails group. Sherifs definition defines what is then said to be a tool in talking about the thing defined. The tone of this article is confused and confusing.Empathyfreak (talk) 20:44, 29 August 2008 (UTC)

So start rewriting... But why is the inclusion of identity circular? Identity, interaction, interdependence, etc. have all been suggested as defining attributes of a group. Without using one or more of these features, there is no clear distinction between groups and aggregates. Having a gathering of people in the same place and time does not necessarily entail a common identity (e.g. crowds) --Jcbutler (talk) 14:38, 30 August 2008 (UTC)


Hi...I thought I would throw out a very general definition of a group; Two or more people who interact, and engage in a common activity. Interaction may take three forms: competition, conflict, or cooperation.Tufwheel 03:38, 26 January 2007 (UTC)


Wow. Not a single image in here.Drahcirmy talkget my skin 03:28, 18 December 2006 (UTC)


It doesn't half waffle towards the end... it really needs some conciseness, and most of all, some bloody references!

Please take a look at User talk:Corrupt one/Scene (sociology) --Espoo 18:22, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

Territory and dominance section[edit]

The territory and dominance section is off topic and needs to be removed.--Editor2020 (talk) 01:04, 26 August 2008 (UTC)

I agree, though I wonder if we could move it to a more appropriate article. It is also largely uncited. --Jcbutler (talk) 20:52, 4 December 2008 (UTC)
Thirded. I believe that it is not obviously relevant content for someone seeking an encyclopaedic explanation of a social group. I have removed it. Someone else may choose to create a specific article for this content and reintroduce an appropriate segue. Cheers all. Andrew (talk) 06:29, 26 December 2011 (UTC)

Name of this article[edit]

The group is an important unit of analysis, not only in sociology but also in other social sciences, particularly anthropology and social psychology. I suggest that we change the name of this article to social group because it is more universal, yet still states exactly what kind of group is being discussed. Opinions? --Jcbutler (talk) 17:52, 7 November 2008 (UTC)

After almost three months without a comment, I went ahead and made the change. --Jcbutler (talk) 15:47, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

who's paul hare[edit]

Thats a bizarre thing to have in the lead - I have no idea who paul hare is, I'm assuming he is a respected expert - but i don't know! (talk) 03:30, 21 February 2011 (UTC)

I concur. One year later subsequent changes have been made. Andrew (talk) 12:17, 6 February 2012 (UTC)

Types of groups[edit]

In other news, I would suggest that the list of group types be truncated. I.e. trimmed down to a sentence that reflects the fact that the are innumerable ways to define groups. I think that as it stands people will keep adding group types until the cows come home. And then someone will add "cows" as a group type. Thoughts? Andrew (talk) 12:17, 6 February 2012 (UTC)

Intro is WP:WEASEL words[edit]

I made a solid intro that defined "social group" but it was reverted back to weasel words WP:WEASEL. Also Wikipedia is not a dictionary WP:NOTDIC, so an article shouldn't be about more than one definition. If there are different definitions for a term then they should be in separate articles. Bhny (talk) 18:32, 18 May 2012 (UTC)

I removed "has been defined as" as these weasel words are not needed. I don't see any contradiction to this broad definition Bhny (talk) 21:37, 18 May 2012 (UTC)

Hi Bhny. Thanks for your thoughts, and I absolutely agree that we should aim for language that is as precise and accessible as possible. I do feel that this is tricky with this article. ‘What is a social group?’ can be a pretty contentious issue and the “broad definition” has always been a matter of debate. Indeed, it is actually a very interesting topic and I suspect that many readers end up on this page for this very reason. I will say that I was less concerned with the weasel word issue as in this case the content reflects statements that are attributable and I believe this is considered acceptable.
What appears now could be close to a solution, but I didn’t want make any further attempts without discussion. Perhaps others will have suggestions for ideal language. Cheers Andrew (talk) 04:35, 19 May 2012 (UTC)
no it's still terrible. this for example- although the best way to define social group is a matter of conjecture- is about as weasely as you could get. Is there really any opposition to defining it as 2 or more people? If a topic can't be defined then there shouldn't even be an article Bhny (talk) 04:50, 19 May 2012 (UTC)
Hi Bhny. It isn’t (generally) the two or more people component that is the issue. It is the second part of that sentence that raises eyebrows. I.e. “who interact with one another, share similar characteristics and collectively have a sense of unity”. With a bit of consideration I suspect that you could think of some ‘groups’ that do interact with each other but do not share a sense of unity, or ‘groups’ that do share a sense of unity but that don’t interact in any intuitive sense. If you like I can suggest some appropriate further reading so that you can bring yourself up to speed. Otherwise you could follow some of the references already in the article.
In other news, you raise an interesting idea in saying that “if a topic can’t be defined then there shouldn’t even be an article”. I don’t think I share the perspective that concepts with complex and/or disputed definitions have no place in Wikipedia. This might threaten the existence of the very popular articles for morality, ethics, altruism and many others. Actually, it is with a hint of irony that I would suggest that it is because Wikipedia is not a dictionary that we can go beyond the broad definition that you seem to be so keen on. Does this sit reasonably well with you? Or anyone else for that matter? Cheers Andrew (talk) 04:48, 20 May 2012 (UTC)
I edited it again. This time with "They may also share similar..." Bhny (talk) 23:46, 10 June 2012 (UTC)
Hi Bhny. I have reverted your latest edits. This is for two reasons. Firstly, and inline with the above discussion, your edits privilege one criterion over others and do not reflect the disputes surrounding the concept. More worryingly than this, however, is the fact that you edited referenced material in such a way that it no longer is representative of the content of that reference. It seems like a no brainer that this is a step in the wrong direction. Cheers Andrew (talk) 09:06, 11 June 2012 (UTC)
Which reference says "although the best way to define social group is a matter of conjecture". The only reference there is Cliff Notes! How can that even be a reference and also it doesn't say that it's a matter of conjectureBhny (talk) 16:03, 11 June 2012 (UTC)
Hi Bhny. The reference may not appear to be particularly illustrious, but I do not think this changes the fact that any editor should not alter content in such a way that it becomes a misrepresentation of the source material. You seem to not understand how your edits have had this impact, so I will briefly explain.
In this case, the reference states “A social group is a collection of people who interact with each other and share similar characteristics and a sense of unity”. This was fairly represented in the Wikipedia article. Without changing the reference, you changed that content to, “a social group is two or more humans who interact with one another. They may also share similar characteristics and collectively have a sense of unity”. We can clearly see how your sentence privileges the criterion of interaction in a way that the source material does not. I of course do not believe that your edits were of nefarious intent. I certainly, however, think that they were not scholarly and needed to be reverted. Still, others may disagree and I am keen to hear those thoughts. Cheers Andrew (talk) 04:14, 12 June 2012 (UTC)
OK so I will delete the conjecture part as it is not referenced Bhny (talk) 15:10, 12 June 2012 (UTC)
Hi Bhny. You also don’t appear to understand the purpose of this discussion. In order to avoid edit wars, where disagreement exists, editors are encouraged to seek consensus in the talk pages before continuing with controversial edits. Your approach, in contrast, appears to be to continue to edit the page while providing pithy descriptions of those edits here. Such actions subvert the utility of this discussion. It becomes little more than a reflection of the conflict taking place on the article itself, rather than the source of article stability it is intended to be. Others may disagree, and I am as usual very keen to hear those opinions. In the meantime, I am requesting that you return to this discussion in a substantive fashion before making further edits.
With regard to the issue of citations that you raise, removal would be one option. However, we have already noted the inconsistency that would create between the article intro and the article body. Another option would be to insert relevant citations. These could simply include those which are already in the article,[1][2] but could also include some further citations.[3][4][5][6] What do you (or others) think? Cheers Andrew (talk) 03:20, 13 June 2012 (UTC)
I asked: Which reference says "although the best way to define social group is a matter of conjecture". You gave none so I removed the unreferenced OR. Also it's such a weird weasely sentence- conjecture means "inference from defective or presumptive evidence". Bhny (talk) 13:43, 13 June 2012 (UTC)
Perhaps “conjecture” is indeed the wrong word. Perhaps “debate” would suit better. Either way, this is something that should be discussed here prior to further edits, as per Wikipedia guidelines.
Again, with regard to citations, on the 20th of May I pointed you in the direction of references within the article that reflect the dissensus on the topic. I also offered to provide you with further reading on the topic. This was an offer you ignored. Then, today, you claimed OR and have attempted the same removal while four more references are staring you in the face. Given this bizarre reluctance to inform your opinions using information that is presented to you, and your insistence on unilateral editing decisions, I have to ask; are you some sort of elaborate Wikipedia vandal?
Also, sign your comments. Andrew (talk) 05:45, 13 June 2012 (UTC)
none of the references say "social group is a matter of conjecture". There's no reference after that sentence. Bhny (talk) 13:43, 13 June 2012 (UTC)
The correct way to do this is to leave "conjecture" out until we find something properly referenced. You admit "conjecture" is wrong even- so why should it be there? You want me to leave something in that you admit is wrong? Bhny (talk) 13:51, 13 June 2012 (UTC)
You say that you are unhappy leaving “conjecture” in there. Well I am unhappy with the inconsistency that your edit creates by positing one definition for social group while two or more are discussed in the body of the article. Hang on a second! I am going to propose something absolutely outrageous. What if we were to leave it as it was, come together on the article talk page, and then discuss the matter until we come to agreement on what should be done? Did I just blow your mind?
Your latest “no original research” claims made me chuckle. The six references all clearly reflect an as yet unresolved debate/conflict/argument/dispute/disagreement/discussion about the best way to define social group. You could even say that they all discuss the conjecture on the topic, depending on how you think about that word. You seem to think that Wikipedia editors who display basic comprehension skills are engaging in original research. Actually, this makes sense given your struggles with some of the above discussion. Andrew (talk) 02:08, 14 June 2012 (UTC)
I guess you are unaware that 3 reverts in less than 24 hours is an automatic ban. WP:3RR Bhny (talk) 03:09, 14 June 2012 (UTC)
Anyway, the lead is the definition. We need a definition there, not something that says the definition is up to the reader. If there are 3 meaning then list them all, with references. A reference goes after the end of the sentence or paragraph. You seem to think that references later in the article are supporting the lead Bhny (talk) 03:22, 14 June 2012 (UTC)
Dear Bhny. Firstly, the statement is “more than three reverts” in a 24 hour period. Secondly, such activity does not result in an “automatic ban” as you say. As I understand it, a temporary block may occur after an administrator is made aware of the situation and he or she deems that a block is appropriate. In this case I would welcome administrator attention. I believe that I have acted in the spirit of Wikipedia guidelines and have sought both editor consensus and article stability. You, on the other hand, seem only to have stopped edit waring because you fear the 3 revert red flag system. It is unfortunate that you are gaming the system in this way and that you appear to have no sincere interest in Wikipedia’s consensus culture and subsequent guidelines.
Call me a sucker, but despite all of the above I am going to try once again to resolve this though discussion. Perhaps other editors may help with this.
  • I would endorse an intro that provides one definition, while reflecting the ongoing debate. This is close to what we have now. References for the ongoing debate could include the six that I have suggested thus far (although somehow you seem to think this is original research).
  • I would also endorse an intro that includes multiple definitions, which you now seem to be proposing. My concern is that it may be unwieldy, but it could work. You could draft something here if you like, or perhaps in your sandbox.
  • I would not endorse an intro with a single definition. This is what you have been trying obstinately to get through without meaningful discussion.
I ask this question with great pessimism about what will follow: What are your thoughts Bhny? Andrew (talk) 07:01, 14 June 2012 (UTC)
I'm not going to write an intro because I have no idea what you would approve. You only infer that the other definitions contradict two or more humans who interact with one another, share similar characteristics and collectively have a sense of unity. I have no idea how these other references contradict this pretty basic definition but you could write something like-
"X" disagrees with this, saying they need not share characteristics, while "Y" says that unity is also not needed.r1 ,r2. Bhny (talk) 09:56, 14 June 2012 (UTC)
Hi Bhny. I am pleasantly surprised by your response. Thank you for engaging.
In answer to your question, social identity researchers are resistant to definitions of social group that stress interpersonal interdependence and objective similarity (such as is the case in our current lead definition). Instead, they posit that “common category membership is the necessary and sufficient condition for individuals to fell themselves to be, and act as, a group” (Turner , 1982, p27). Does this explain satisfactorily for you how the definition in the opening intro is not universally accepted? Obviously the article authors do a better job of explaining than me.
We could, as you most recently suggest, insert this into the intro. I would be happy with that, however, I would be concerned that in the long run the intro will become full of possible definitions (of which there are a few). This is why I am satisfied to simply point out that the definition provided there is not the only possible definition, and then let readers read further on this topic if they wish. In the meantime, I would happily endorse replacing “conjecture” with “debate” or something similar. I agree that “conjecture” is a less than obvious term to use here. Cheers Andrew (talk) 12:30, 14 June 2012 (UTC)
The definition[s] have to go in the lead along with the references. A lead can be 3 or 4 paragraphs. The problem is that if you don't define a topic in the lead you end up with an entire article about defining the concept (i.e. a dictionary article) and not an encyclopedia article which is about a topic. Bhny (talk) 16:35, 14 June 2012 (UTC)

Drafting a possible intro[edit]

Hi Bhny. I have created a subheading to help cut to the chase a bit. Also, it was becoming quite a squeeze over to the right there.

Anyway, I think it is worth reminding you that it is perfectly normal for articles, including Wikipedia articles, to cover a debate on a particular topic. This is neatly exemplified here. As I have mentioned before, it is because Wikipedia is not a dictionary that this is made possible. I have no idea why you think Wikipeida subject matter should be limited in the way you describe. Particularly as you imply that you have now read at least six scholarly papers on the topic of defining a social group and presumably you now understand that much work has occurred in this area. I of course have no problem with an article that spends a great deal of time on this topic. Moving on though, I have tried to draft something that is in line with some of your expectations. What do you think of the following? Cheers Andrew (talk) 03:40, 15 June 2012 (UTC)

In the social sciences social groups are collections of individuals who are share a social relationship, although what exactly defines a social group is a matter of debate.[1][3][6][2][5] In some circles social groups are defined as two or more humans who interact with one another, share similar characteristics and collectively have a sense of unity.[7] Other theorists are a wary of definitions which stress the importance of interdependence or objective similarity.[1][2] Researchers in the social identity tradition posit instead that “awareness of common category membership is the necessary and sufficient condition for individuals to fell themselves to be, and act as, a group”.[1] Regardless, social groups come in a myriad of sizes and varieties. For example, a society can be viewed as a large social group.

Do you want to put this in your sandbox so we can edit it. It's going to be messy doing this on a talk page. Language like "In some circles" should be avoided. Unfortunately that would make the sentence "Cliff Notes defines social groups as...". Isn't there a standard text book definition we can get?? Bhny (talk) 14:33, 15 June 2012 (UTC)

Probably a wise suggestion. I will set up a copy over there that we, and anyone else who is interested, can fiddle around with. And yes, I will change “in some circles”. It is the sort of thing that would beg a [who?] comment. See you over there. Cheers Andrew (talk) 01:34, 16 June 2012 (UTC)

I read the discussion and took a look at the phrasing proposed by Andrew here. I would have to oppose any wording that delays defining what a social group is to the second sentence, e.g., something like "In the social sciences what exactly defines a social group is a matter of debate. Social groups have been defined..." I suggest starting with a very broad definition, then describing how the social cohesion and social identification models, as Turner, for instance, calls them, differ. That is, the former posits that social groups are made up of individuals who are interdependent to at least some degree and who share interpersonal similarities and relations, whereas the latter theorizes that the mere knowledge of group membership suffices for people to consider themselves, and act as, a social group. --Sonicyouth86 (talk) 18:27, 3 September 2012 (UTC)

Hi Sonicyouth86. I am largely happy with your ideas, although the implementation may be a bit tricky. Would you be able to suggest an appropriate “broad definition”? Alternatively, would you be happy if we just took Draft 1 here and remove the first sentence? As I mentioned above, I am concerned that this latter option will in the long run lead to an intro that is bloated with competing definitions. However, I would say that this would be a satisfactory short term solution. Cheers Andrew (talk) 03:22, 5 September 2012 (UTC)

Progress update[edit]

Unfortunately Bhny and I have failed to reach consensus on this and the conversation has stalled. I hope other editors may offer their opinions as to the appropriate way forward. I will keep the continuation of the discussion in my sandbox for the foreseeable future. To briefly summarise the conflict though, I think the intro should in some way reflect the contention surrounding what characterizes a social group. I see this as useful content and critical for maintaining the internal consistency of the article. In contrast, Bhny does not believe that this is encyclopedic content (he may wish to restate his position here in his own words). Cheers all Andrew (talk) 00:56, 27 August 2012 (UTC)

If I understand correctly, U3964057 and Bhny have debated whether the phrase "although the best way to define social group is a matter of conjecture" should remain in the lead section. Bhny removed and U3964057 restored it repeatedly. I agree with Bhny that the phrase is the textbook example of WP:WEASEL. Who contests the given definition? Why? Do they provide alternative definitions? The phrase is an eyesore sitting there in the lead section. Thus, I support removing it. If there is a dispute over what characterizes a social group, then it needs to be summarized. Summarize what a social group is according to the social cohesion and the social identification approach per WP:LEAD. --Sonicyouth86 (talk) 21:44, 28 August 2012 (UTC)
I'm removing the weasel words again since nobody else has come to their defense. If this conflicted definition problem needs to be outlined in the lead, please mention the what, who and the why of these definitions (as Sonicyouth86 says) Bhny (talk) 17:05, 22 September 2012 (UTC)
Welcome back Bhny. I am glad to hear that you are now happy to, at least for the meantime, have some reference to the competing definitions in the lead. We can have an internally consistent article after all. I have tried to be mindful of your (and Sonicyouth86's) other comments in the edit I have made along those lines. Cheers Andrew (talk) 06:37, 28 September 2012 (UTC)


  1. ^ a b c d Turner, J. C. (1982). "Towards a cognitive redefinition of the social group". In Tajfel, H. Social identity and intergroup relations (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press): 15–40. 
  2. ^ a b c Platow, M. J.; Grace, D. M.; Smithson, M. J. (2011). "Examining the Preconditions for Psychological Group Membership: Perceived Social Interdependence as the Outcome of Self-Categorization". Social Psychological and Personality Science 3 (1). 
  3. ^ a b Hogg, M. A. (1987). Social identity and group cohesiveness. In J. C. Turner, M. A. Hogg, P. Oakes, S. Reicher & M. S. Wetherell (Eds.), Rediscovering the social group: A self-categorization theory. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
  4. ^ Hogg, M. A., & Abrams, D. (1988). Social identifications: A social psychology of intergroup relations and group processes: Psychology Press.
  5. ^ a b Oakes, Penny; Haslam, Alex; Turner, John (1994). Stereotyping and social reality. Blackwell: Oxford. 
  6. ^ a b Turner, J. C., & Bourhis, R. Y. (1996). Social identity, interdependence and the social group: A reply to Rabbie et al. In W. P. Robinson (Ed.), Social groups and identities: Developing the legacy of Henri Tajfel (pp. 25-63). Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.
  7. ^ "Social Groups." Accessed June 2011.