Social cohesion is a fundamental force in human social life. Anywhere there is a we-feeling there is social cohesion. The development and maintenance of cohesion is a central preoccupation of people from early childhood to old age, from groups as small as two—the dyad—to entire societies. Visible and not so visible markers used as boundary maintaining mechanisms are almost infinite in their variety, from symbols to clothing to skin color. Primary group cohesion is based on a variety of psychosocial elements such as love, sexual attraction, and power within the group, as well as competition and conflict with out-groups and individuals. Secondary group cohesion is also based on completion and conflict with out-groups, as well as on commitment to group and organizational values. In-group cohesion can be harmful when it blinds people to the value of new members and new ideas.
In the workplace, small ad hoc groups and teams are endemic. Developing an understanding of team formation and group dynamics, as well as group participation skills are worthwhile endeavors and provide excellent opportunities for the application of sociology.
In this chapter, we will read about small groups and focus on work groups and work teams. We are specifically interested in how teams develop cohesion and function effectively. From a practical application point of view, we want to learn how to identify and overcome obstacles to effective team functioning. So, for our application section, we will participate in a team building exercise. This exercise can help to identify problems with how a team communicates and solves problems.