Scientific Ideas on the Large Groups Development: a Critical Analysis on the Background of Small Group Models’ Development

  • Mykola Slyusarevskyy Institute for Social and Political Psychology, NAES of Ukraine
Keywords: large group, small group, group development, conceptions of phase (stage) development of a large group, theory of ethnogenesis by L. M. Gumilyov, Soviet theories of collective, models of small group development, levels of group development


There are discussed the concepts of phase (stage) development of large groups
which are widely known in post-Soviet countries and are proposed by Russian authors
in Soviet times (G. G. Dilihenskiy) and in the past decade (A. L. Zhuravlev and
T. P. Yemelianova). It is shown that despite of existing differences both concepts
have common flaws, which primarily relate to the simplification of a large group
development picture which is irrelevant to the reality, the interpretation of this
development as an essentially unidirectional, linear process as it is free from internal
contradictions (intra-group conflicts and regressive tendencies). On the background
of such large groups development’s simplifications almost the only exception as to
the discussed issues in the scientific context is the theory of ethnogenesis by
L. M. Gumilyov, but in the socio-psychological sense it has a local significance,
since it concerns only ethnic groups and cannot be mechanically extrapolated to the
other large groups. It is suggested that the "non-conflict" simplicity of the concepts
proposed by Russian authors is explained by the ideologizability of large groups
problems and by the influence of Soviet collective theories, where group development
is also considered as linear climbing of the small group to the collective or, conversely,
anti-collective level. Therefore, in order to clarify the notions of large groups
development there are analyzed Western models of small group development
designed by B. Tuckman and his followers; these models are characterized by well-
established, time-tested and practically relevant scientific knowledge. Based on the
conducted analysis, there is a need, firstly, to take into account the moments of
progress and regress in the conceptions of large group development; and secondly,
to abandon the strict correlation of large groups development phases (stages) with
the levels of their development. The modification of B. Tuckman's model, performed
by A. White and J. Fairhurst, which removes the fatalism (an indispensable finiteness)
from the picture of group development, is also essential for clarifying the development
conceptions not only for the small groups but also for the large ones. The question is
raised about the creation of a general theory of group development, which would
contain the complementary combinations of options oriented on the specifics of
different types of large, medium, and small groups.

How to Cite
Slyusarevskyy, M. (2018). Scientific Ideas on the Large Groups Development: a Critical Analysis on the Background of Small Group Models’ Development . Scientific Studios on Social and Political Psychology, (42(45), 3-19.