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128Social Group Work: Working with GroupsIn nutshell, three main factors which influence groupformation and subsequent group development andperformance are individual- group – society, that is,individual and group goals; resources, expectations andmotivations of individual members; group structureincluding composition and size (internal factors);environment and resources of agency, socio-economicconditions, social context of groups (external factors).External and internal forces, planned assembly, andemergent processes play a part in the formation of allgroups. However, the balance of forces that shape theirformation differs markedly across groups.Theories of Group FormationA number of authors and researchers have put forthdifferent theories and perspectives to explain why and howpeople come together to form groups. An understandingof these perspectives is useful while matching the purposeof the group with prospective membership.Researchers have yet to develop a comprehensive theoryto explain how and why groups form, but there are twoperspectives that offer some answers: functionalperspective suggests that groups form because they servea useful function or fulfill a need for their individualmembers. The interpersonal attraction perspectivesuggests that groups form because its members like oneanother and seek to spend time together. (Cottam, et al2004, p 66-68)Functional Perspective states that groups are formed tofulfill survival needs, including feeding, defense,nurturance, and reproduction; psychological needs likeneed for affiliation; need for power – need to control others.According to FIRO (Fundamental Interpersonal Relations
Process of Group Formation129Orientation) given by Schultz (1958), joining a group canfulfill three basic needs – inclusion (desire to be part of agroup); control (the need to organize an aspect of the group);and affection (the desire to establish positive relations withothers).Another category of needs that can often be served well bygroups is informational needs. People often have a needto determine if their own view points are correct andaccurate. This perspective suggests that people join groupsto better understand social reality.Groups can also meet people’s interpersonal needs. Manygroups can provide social support, giving emotionalsustenance, advice, and valuable feedback. Social supportcan be a valuable function of groups – protect us fromharmful effects of stress; protect us from being lonely.Finally, groups can fulfill important collective needs –groups can be more productive and efficient than anindividual working alone, that is, by pooling the efforts ofmultiple people. Some of the collective goals sought bygroups include engaging in the performing arts; enrichingthe leisure time of its members; changing the opinions ofthe persons outside the group; and making routineindividual tasks more tolerable.