Professor

Communication Arts & Sciences and Political Science Senior Scholar, the McCourtney Institute for Democracy
The Pennsylvania State University

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Research

Research Topic Map Civil society and protest groups Communication in small groups The Australian Citizens' Parliament Jury behavior The Democracy Machine (online platform) The Group in society Democracy in Small Groups Civic Engagment The Jury and Democracy Group Decision Making Governance Theory and Practice of deliberative democracy Political Communication and Deliberation Delib. Democracy Handbook Democracy in Motion By Popular Demand The Citizens' Initiative Review Public forums, civic education, political socialization Direct Democracy
Sortition as an alternative to elections Participedia.net Public opinion and civic attitudes Public Opinion and Atts. Elections Cultural Cognition Project Voter Behavior, election dynamics, and campaings

The Group in Society

The Group in Society provides readers with an engaging synthesis of the most important theory and research on small groups. It  also advances the development of small group research as a vital, cross-disciplinary enterprise. The Group in Society stretches across the lifespan from the family unit through the educational and work groups that fill our lives to the support groups that help us through personal difficulties to the civic, community, and religious groups that give our lives special meaning. Cover design of the Group in Society

The book weaves diverse cases and research into a comprehensive embedded system framework, which stresses the ways in which society shapes groups and groups, in turn, reshape society. It is designed to be used for undergraduate courses, graduate seminars, or anyone interesting in understanding the groups in their personal, professional, and public lives.

Read an excerpt from the copy-edited manuscript, including the table of contents, preface, chapters 1-2, and references.

Early praise for The Group in Society:

"Small groups are stubbornly interdisciplinary; its blessing and curse. Groups remain endlessly fascinating and attract attention from as wide a set of disciplines as any single subject out there.  But this interdisciplinarity also creates fractures that, at worst, paralyze advances in the field.  The conventional wisdom has been to create a unified theory—identifying the same member roles, stages of development, and elements of cohesion—that applies equally to all groups regardless of their function and environmental context. Instead, in this thoughtful and expansive new book, Gastil artfully weaves together case studies, theory, and empirical analysis to propose that we should think of, and apply, group archetypes—families, teams, juries—to help us highlight the predictable differences among types of groups.  From this vantage point, modern groups such as terrorist cells and Facebook, as well as the “standards” such as group therapy and work groups, are all better understood.  Any student of small groups will learn from this book. George Homans said over half a century ago that small groups were at the very center of our lives as human beings; they are the foundation of society.  The Group in Society couldn’t make this point any better."  --Aaron Brower, Professor of Social Work, University of Wisconsin-Madison and co-editor of Small Group Research

Order review copies or purchase the book through Sage Publications.