I belong to a study group. A well-created study group has all the characteristics of a social group. It is a social collection of individuals who are brought together by some shared objective. There are some guidelines for discipline that guide how activities are carried out, for instance, a shared belief in keeping time. Keeping time, meeting at a specific venue or surrounding, and taking turns to listen to each other are some of the shared characteristics that determine the group norms of the collection of individuals.
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The study group may well be described as being a personal growth group. Although it exists at a small scale, it is a social collection, with individuals that have varied aspirations and goals which are unified into a shared objective, within a social context. Like anywhere else, there are differences in the members’ social status, for instance, senior and junior-senior or junior. The group’s leader or in other cases the facilitator will ordinarily tend to exert a lot of influence upon the group because of his role, which is to shape the eventual outcomes of the group. Study groups that are made up of at most six people have for long been recommended as being effective in the planning of common or related instructional units. For effective implementation, there has to be full participation of every member. For this reason, the objectives of the group are viewed as being an internalized value of the members and they, therefore, work together towards its attainment (Lowe, Carter & Anderson 1999).
In the group example, there is preplanning of the issues that are to be discussed at every meeting. Once the group members meet, they first deal with topics that they consider to be most urgent. They share the knowledge gained in class, have idea exchange, establish collaborative measures and most significant of all, there is the strengthening of friendship between members, who have so far developed a close relationship with each other. Through the creation of such a relationship, there has been noting over time the fact that members consider themselves to be having a unique sort of relationship. They are often ready to defend each other and the identity of the group that they belong to (Forsyth 2006).
The group is a good example of a bond created between group members. Just like the relationships that have been built in this case, group membership usually brings with it a sense of loyalty to each other. Individuals in the group tend to consider their group as being better than others and for this reason, some ideas are considered group secrets. There has been the creation of group culture and even other activities that are not necessarily supposed to be dealt with at the group level in class tend to be handled jointly by the group members wherever they are (Rogers 2005).
The group has its leaders who tend to control whatever happens during meeting sessions. Some members appear to be more influential than others. The group leader’s opinions, probably because he often gives the final word, tend to hold as the overall truth. Some members come out as being knowledgeable than others and tend to be more active. They, therefore, seem to have greater influence than the others.
The practice of group study has an organizing role in any learning activity. It facilitates successful college learning as has been shown by our group. The students get a chance of getting together, getting to share ideas, and the chance to prepare for their studies much more effectively. Through group study, it is possible to effectively reinforce the individual’s first study and broaden their learning range. The effect of groups in boosting confidence is among the significant aspects of group dynamics. Just like in the case of other social groups, there is the building of self-confidence from the interactions. This is because there is the tendency for members to bond, intending to attain a shared purpose, in this case gaining knowledge and succeeding in examinations. The interactions offered also enable the individuals who are involved to realize their differing personal perspectives of issues. From frequently interacting as a group, they can gain an insight into the problems that are dealt with from varied viewpoints. For instance, there is the likelihood of the group coming up with more unique answers to academic questions as they can perceive the emphasis on issues much differently (Robinson et al. 1991).
The foundations of the study group provide a useful way of understanding the dynamics of groups. During the first meeting, there was the identification of a shared purpose. There was the formulation of a statement of purpose. In it, there is the setting of the group’s goals about the handling of assignments and sharing of ideas. The most significant goals, in this case, were weekly meetings at a specified time. Within the goals, which may be considered to be rules, there is the clarification of practices and roles. The group leader was chosen during the initial meeting. Each member’s role was also spelled out. For instance, there was the noting of the need for determining the level of preparedness of each member before every meeting. The group intends to get serious enough so that there is the unwritten rule that a member who does not participate as is expected is eliminated from the group (Burke 2006).
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There is also the creation of a plan for sessions and events. The group leader and group often take time to make a plan of the relevant academic material, whether lectures, articles, notes, or books, which are supposed to be covered in future meeting sessions. The measures developed for conducting effective meetings are also part of the group’s practice. The leader is the one who has to set the agenda of every meeting and keep it. An outline is therefore set out to be followed and this helps to keep all group members on track, in addition to ensuring continued group effectiveness. The group leader sets the tone in meetings. This includes setting the expectations that are to be met by every member during the agenda. The leader in this case often does this with the help of volunteers among the members (Lindholm 2007).
The study group qualifies as being a social group within which individual identities play a considerable role. Individual identities are what constitute the contributions made and therefore the bond that will bold the group together. The main qualifying criteria that may be noted in this case include the establishment of status relationships. The fact that there are some people with greater influence than others implies that there exists some dominance aspect and social ranking in the day-to-day interactions of the group. There are also commonly accepted values and norms that address matters dealt with by the group members. There is also the identification of shared goals and motives, all of which act together to create a sense of purpose. There is, in addition to these, a commonly accepted method of sanctioning individuals, for instance through punishment or praise whenever there is a violation of accepted values and norms. Individual identity derives from the role that each member is expected to play in the arrangement (Wallach & Levine 2009).
The term identity is comparable with that of the self. Psychologists understand psychological identity as being a product of self-image. The self-image on its part is the individual’s mental model of what makes up his or herself. It also relates to the person’s individuation and self-esteem. One significant component of identity from a psychological point of view is gender identity. This is because it has the effect of determining how individuals perceive themselves both as people and when related to other people (Burke 2006).
Among the theoretical frameworks developed to describe identity is Erik Erickson’s. His framework is referred to as the Eriksonian framework. According to this, there is a differentiation between the psychological aspect of continuity referred to as ego, identity, or the self, personal idiosyncrasies which distinguish a person from the other, also referred to as personal identity and the combination of social roles which are expected to be played by the individual, otherwise referred to as the cultural or social identity. Erikson, in a psychodynamic framework, tried to assess identity formation in lifetimes. The noted developing strength in an individual’s ego identity for instance may be described in terms of the progressive steps through which such an identity is built as a response to increasingly complex challenges that they face. The development process of the ego identity, together with effective integration to a steady culture and society will cause the development of a generally stronger feeling of identity. Insufficiency in any of the factors can lead to an increased level of identity confusion or crisis (Lindholm 2007).
Psychologists make use of the term identity in the description of personal identity. This is made up of idiosyncratic things which define a person’s uniqueness. For those who are sociologists, it is a social distinctiveness involving a collection of memberships to groups that builds up a human person. As much as the self may be said to be different from identity, literature that is related to self-psychology explains how such identity may be maintained. There are two main aspects involved in this case. These are the processes that lead to the formation of the self (I) and the content of the understanding that constitutes the self-concept (what constitutes the Me). In the latter, there is an attempt at linking it with self-esteem; variations between the complex and simple aspects of organizing the self-knowledge, and the connection existing between the organizing principles and their links to information processing (Rogers 2005).
At the generalized level, self-psychologists attempt to fully investigate how the self interacts with the social environment. The theories provided therefore tend to explain the disabled person’s actions as part of a group within the context of mental states and events. Some however go a step further and address identity from both individual cognition and collective behavioral levels (Lowe, Carter & Anderson 1999).
The Social Psychological Approach
In the social-psychological model, the issue of disability is well addressed. The approach emphasizes the significance of the experiences that are faced by the disabled within the current social context. There is the suggestion that society needs to listen to them at all times. There should also be the recognition of how some oppressive experiences that are experienced by them can be internalized in a manner that is not conscious. Past studies that have been carried out on disabled persons concluded that they consider disability to be only a single aspect of what may be considered to be their identity. Other aspects such as ethnicity and gender are also important and may even be more important (Lindholm 2007).
From the social psychological perspective, a group is understood to be at least two individuals who happen to be connected through a social relationship link. Due to their interaction, they can exert some influence upon each other. They, therefore, tend to come up with some dynamic processes which distinguish them from any random gathering of people. The processes that emerge include for instance roles, development, relations, social influence, the need to feel that one belongs, and impacts on individual behavior (Forsyth 2006).
The social identity theory seeks to provide an understanding of intergroup discrimination. It is made up of four components. These include identification. Here, people are said to tend to associate within-groups which contribute to the boosting of individual self-esteem. The second component is categorization. According to this, individuals always tend to put themselves and others into categories. It is for this reason that describing another person usually involves terms such as Muslims or Americans. There is also a comparison. Here, individuals often compare the groups that they belong to and always have some positive bias towards their group. In present-day contexts, for instance, youths tend to allocate themselves to groupings for instance jocks, hoodies, and goths. The final component is psychological distinctiveness. In this case, human beings tend to have the desire that their own identity is both different and positively comparable to the others (Burke 2006).
The social-psychological approach comprises various interrelated social psychological theories which dwell on why and when individuals opt to identify with social groups and taking up shared attitudes that differentiate them from outsiders. It addresses the difference that results from encounters that occur between people that are considered to encounter affecting group members. The social identity theory thus deals with both the sociological and psychological dimensions of group behavior. The social psychological theories also point to the idea of identity formation measures that an individual may utilize in adapting to day-to-day situations in the world (Lindholm 2007).
Every person is considered to possess a variety of identities that are available to them, both personal and social. Each of the identities informs them about who one is and the characteristics of the identity. According to it, social behavior coexists with a spectrum context, ranging from interpersonal to inter-group. In a situation where the personal identity remains, a person tends to associate with others mainly at an interpersonal level, depending on possessed character traits or any individual relationship relationships that exist between individuals. Within certain conditions, however, social identity tends to be more salient as compared to personal identity. In case of this, behavior tends to be different, as it becomes group behavior (Rogers 2005).
Models for Disability
About disability, there exist various models that explain disability and how the idea has experienced an evolution in various societies. The models are determined by the broader views that are held within the society, hence the raised significance of religious explanations that were at one time major has reduced in the modern society that is increasingly getting secularized (Wallach & Levine 2009).
Two main models are involved in this case. These are the individual or medical model and social model. When working with the disabled, it is significant that the individual is considered first as a human being before being viewed as one with a disability. This does not imply that the disabled have no special needs that have to be taken care of. Ensuring that there is equality in opportunity does not imply a lack of special needs. Rather, it implies that the people concerned should have knowledge and sensitivity to human diversity (Wallach & Levine 2009).
The people responsible should listen to the contributions of the disabled persons on what they consider to be important to themselves. The disabled need to have their opinions considered in decision-making that relates to their lives. They also desire to have others who have undergone similar life experiences. Every disabled person has the desire to get involved in activities that other people of their age engage in. these may for instance be marriage, shopping, sport, and employment. They also need assurance that they are safe from any kind of harassment or discrimination. The disabled call for some control of their money and have enough of it to guarantee the maximum enjoyment of the money (Forsyth 2006).
The medical model is made up of part of an individual model for appreciating disability. It argues that disability exists within the individual, concentrating on the impairment. The approach portrays disabled persons as being either tragic or individuals who, through having superhuman characteristics, have managed to overcome obstacles. There is an emphasis on impairment, prevention, and cure, in other cases taking the form of care and rehabilitation. There is therefore the provision of varied adaptations that will enable a disabled person to fit into society in the most effective way possible (Burke 2006).
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The very definition of the word group helps differentiate it from any aggregate of persons. This is because for one to be considered as being a group, there must be the interaction between two or more individuals, while they all accept the obligations and expectations that exist for them as group members. Most importantly, there is the existence of a shared identity. Such a group then becomes a social group, of which the society is a larger one. A group shows some level of social cohesion. It is not simply a crowd of persons. For instance, a collection of people who are standing at a bus stop will not qualify to be referred to as a social group because of the lack of common bond or interaction that is supposed to be there (Forsyth 2006).
About the disabled, there was the formulation of the social model as a way of explaining the barriers that limited the inclusion of disabled members of the society due to the existent discrimination. The disabled are generally discriminated against, segregated, and marginalized in terms of education, leisure, and other activities that the non-disabled members of the society would otherwise have taken for granted. I the past, the disabled have been for instance educated in what is commonly referred to as special schools, which is a softer term for segregation of the disabled. They have therefore tended to be separated from peers and the community in general. There is a commonly held belief that the disabled are abnormal. In this respect, there are three main theoretical approaches to the issue. These are based on non-materialist psychology and individual psychology (Wallach & Levine 2009).
The conclusion that is arrived at is that there is the possibility of self-psychology providing an understanding of how identity is upheld. An individual can exhibit relative strength or limitation in terms of obligations and exploration. When well categorized, four probable occurrences may be expected; identity attainment, identity foreclosure identity diffusion as well as identity moratorium. Diffusion relates to an individual lacking interest in life and having even more commitment to the unchosen roles which he may have been assigned. Foreclosure has to do with the person not having made choices extensively during the past, but still seeming to have the desire of committing to some significant roles or goals in the future. Moratorium describes a situation where the person shows flightiness and readiness to choose but remains not being able to commit to them. Achievement occurs when the individual chooses on identity and commits themselves to the choice (Burke 2006).
The issue of the psychological reasons that inspire an individual’s decision to adopt a group is approached differently by different scholars. A considerable number of people attain growth in self-esteem from the respective identity groups that they belong to, and this further promotes their sense of belonging and community. In terms of discrimination, there is interest in why some people favor members of their groups at the expense of outsiders. The issues are addressed by John Turner and Henri Tajfel’s social identity theory. In this, there is a focus on self-categorization and its role in the development of identity. It further illustrates how the simple characteristic of distinctiveness is capable of influencing people to discriminate against others. The social identity theory brings out the idea that even the creation of a cognitive distinction of out and in-groups is capable of creating changes in the ways that people evaluate others (Burke 2006).
The ideas that are offered by the two perspectives are however wrong. This is because they are incoherent. There is a materialist explanation of abnormality in the disabled, and this emphasizes the existence of unmet needs that the disabled have. There is also the call for detailed, comprehensive explorations of ways in which the discrimination operates. A large number of disabled persons are unsurprisingly accommodative of the seemingly progressive suggestion that they are normal. The disabled are therefore not abnormal (Burke 2006).
The argument on whether the disabled are normal or not is not necessary as it is mostly unproductive. It is not accurate as far as the nature and source of the many disadvantages that disabled persons face. The propagation of such arguments only serves to perpetuate the suffering that the disabled experience as a result of the prejudice that is present. Instead of trying to prove that they are normal, it would be more productive to have detailed documentation of qualitative and quantitative aspects in the disparity that exists between the disabled and non-disabled people’s lives. At the generalized level, self-psychologists attempt to fully investigate how the self interacts with the social environment. The theories within provided therefore tend to explain the disabled person’s actions as part of a group in the context of mental states and events. Some however go a step further and address identity from both individual cognition and collective behavioral levels (Wallach & Levine 2009).
The issue of the psychological reasons that inspire an individual’s decision to adopt a group is approached differently by different scholars. A considerable number of people attain growth in self-esteem from the respective identity groups that they belong to, and this further promotes their sense of belonging and community. In terms of discrimination, there is interest in why some people favor members of their groups at the expense of outsiders. The issues are addressed by John Turner and Henri Tajfel’s social identity theory. In this, there is a focus on self-categorization and its role in the development of identity. It further illustrates how the simple characteristic of distinctiveness is capable of influencing people to discriminate against others. The social identity theory brings out the idea that even the creation of a cognitive distinction of out and in-groups is capable of creating changes in the ways that people evaluate others (Lindholm 2007).
The social psychological theories also point to the idea of identity formation measures that an individual may utilize in adapting to day-to-day situations in the world. The actual challenge that is faced by the disabled does not lie in their being considered to be abnormal. Instead, it is founded on how the abnormality is explained and understood, in addition to the policy and practice outcomes of the theories (Burke 2006).
One of the outcomes of identity definition in groups is the development of group polarization. This refers to the tendency for human beings to make decisions that are likely to be extreme when made as a group rather than if the same was made as individuals or independently. For instance, after participation in discussion groups, the members are likely to call for more extreme stands and riskier action as compared to individuals that have not had such a meeting (Forsyth 2006).
Social inclusion relates to society’s provision of identified rights to every individual and group within its territory. Issues relating to such inclusion therefore inevitably relate to oppression and discrimination. People with disabilities are among the most affected when it comes to the risk of social exclusion, for instance in education and employment. This is because they are generally considered to be different. The pursuit of total inclusion of the disabled needs to aim at the creation of an equitable and just society. No disabled person should be unable to access whatever goods or services that are necessary to live their most productive or comfortable lives as they deserve. With this in mind, it may be understood that any sort of exclusion leads to unfairness in terms of cultural, social, or economic advantage (Wallach & Levine 2009).
There is a drive towards fully including the disabled. This is because of the realization that citizenship as a concept is in itself exclusionary. It relates to who qualifies to be referred to as a nation state’s citizen and what combination of rights he or she can exercise. It dwells on what the citizen can claim to be entitled to due to his or her being the nation state’s member. In the framework of formal equality, the present laws, constitutions, and codes that govern human rights state equality for all citizens. The structures demand that all citizens be afforded equal rights, which are considered to be inevitable in a democratic system. These are for instance the freedom of religion and association, and the right to choose their leadership. The extent to which these ideals are upheld is however debatable. This is because the practices that threaten the social inclusion of all groups, including the disabled, tend to occur at a lower level and are determined by norms that are not necessarily subject to regulation by the authorities at the national level (Wallach & Levine 2009).
The existence of some elements of social exclusion or discrimination raises several issues. The existence of self-identity in a context of discrimination or exclusion leads to social cohesion which is no longer all about a desire to support whatever is considered unique. Instead, social cohesion includes intra-group solidarity and inter-group identities. It also challenges the dominant and largely theoretical explanation of inclusion and functional diversity.
Need for Social Inclusion
The need for social inclusion of the disabled raises the need for the Creation of inclusive learning environments. Such an environment should be able to promote the maximum academic, professional, and personal development of students. There is supposed to be absolutely no harassment or discrimination in it and all students are to be accorded respect and valued as partners. Social inclusion tends to be a political reaction to exclusion. It mainly focuses on the elimination of systemic barriers that limit participation, and also the provision of equality in opportunity. Social inclusion, therefore, aims at removing barriers to the progress of vulnerable groups (Burke 2006).
It is proactive and not about passive rights protection, but rather active intervention aiming at promoting rights. It gives responsibility to the state on policies that will ensure complete social inclusion for all its citizens. Social inclusion can make institutions and governments accountable for policies that they have developed towards this end. The measure for state success, in this case, is how much it manages to protect the well-being of vulnerable and marginalized groups. It is all about transformation and advocacy for the removal of barriers to equal participation. In addition, the ideal of social is a desirable vision that binds and motivates those who proclaim it to action. Social inclusion involves being embracing. It may be seen as a facet of democratic citizenship rather than proper citizenship. The democratic citizens have rights due to being members of the polity rather than a formal status (Forsyth 2006).
List of References
Burke, P., 2006, Contemporary Social Psychological Theories, Stanford Social Sciences: Stanford.
Forsyth, D., 2006, Group Dynamics, Greenwood Press: Westport.
Lindholm, C., 2007, Culture and Identity: The History, Theory, and Practice of Psychological Anthropology, Penguin Books: Hauthone.
Lowe, G., Carter, I. & Anderson, R., 1999, Human Behavior in the Social Environment: A Social Systems Approach, Free Press: New York.
Robinson, J., Shaver, P. & Wrightsman, L, 1991, Measures of Personality and Social Psychological Attitudes, Lawrence Erlbaum: New Jersey.
Rogers, A., 2005, Human Behavior in the Social Environment, McGraw-Hill: New York.
Wallach, L. & Levine, D., 2009, Psychological Problems, Social Issues, and the Law, University of California Press, Berkeley.