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Research Design And Sample Profile; Behavioral And Organizational Dimensions Of Underground Mine Fires
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    Homans [1950] offered a working definition of group that is useful for this research: "We mean by a group a number of persons who communicate with one another often over a span of time, and who are few enough so that each person is able to communicate with all the others, not at secondhand, through other people, but face-to-face." This chapter begins with a discussion of the group concept in reference to the hypothesized escape groups mentioned earlier. It then moves to an examination of analysis techniques used by the authors. Finally, the subjects themselves are profiled according to their demographic characteristics. The Nature of Groups Warriner [1956] took a realist approach to understanding groups: "(1) the group is just as real as the person, but (2) both are abstract, analytical units, not concrete entities, and (3) the group is understandable and explicable solely in terms of distinctly social processes and factors, not by reference to individual psychology." Warriner's realist position merely holds that "group" occupies a different domain in which it is no more or less concrete than "person." At this group level the unit of analysis will be those relations that indicate social rather than individual behavior. It is possible to investigate these group properties empirically-if a researcher avoids confusing conceptual entities with concrete ones. Most people seem to accept that group attributes must somehow be inferred, but think personal attributes will be directly manifested, requiring little or no interpretation [Snizek 1979]. In other words, nobody would equate physical components of an underground working section with the actual work group, yet social scientists (as well as laypeople) very often confuse real individuals with notions of the person. In actuality, neither groups nor persons are directly disclosed to the senses; both are inferred by experience and observation. One can "see" a group just as clearly as one can "see" a person, given the proper perspective from which to do so. It is necessary, in developing this perspective, to begin with a sound definition of the thing being examined. Besides communication, or more generally, social interaction, Homans [1950] included three other components of group makeup. "Sentiment" is characterized as the feelings people tend to form about one another when they interact often. These feelings include not only friendliness and dislike, but attitudes such as approval or disapproval. A "norm" is an idea, held in common by group members, that specifies how people ought to behave in given circumstances. In lay terms, norms are simply those informal rules individuals abide by in order to get along together in social situations. Finally, "activity" refers to those things persons do with others. In work groups, as an example, many of the activities are cooperative and goal-directed.

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