sociology of PCP

R. A. Neimeyer, U of Memphis (neimeyerra@MSUVX1.MEMPHIS.EDU)
Sat, 02 Mar 1996 14:45:25 -0600

Hi Gwyneth--

In response to your thoughts about the sociology of the theory group, I
tend to agree that (a) you can learn a lot about a group on the basis of
its communication and affiliation practices, (b) there are some pretty
predictable phases in communication patterns as groups evolve, and (c)
patterns that balance the need for close "in group" collaboration on
defined problems with permeability to new voices tend to be the most
"progressive" in the long run. (There is actually a sizable sociology and
psychology of science literature on this; if anyone is interested, I can
share some references).

One of the things that has intrigued and encouraged me over the years is
the way in which folks in PCP have managed to preserve a sense of identity
as a working cluster, while at the same time being remarkably diverse in
their various specializations (clinical, social, AI, education, I/0, etc.).
Moreover, there seems to be a good deal of "cross talk" between
generations, nationalities, and so on--at least more than in other theory
groups of which I am aware (take a look at tables of contents for PCP
books, journals, and conferences for some data on point). Obviously,
communication is not evenly distributed and reciprocated across all
possible participants (in PCP or in any other human group I know of), but
the overall inclusiveness of the group (at least to diversity within its
ranks; openness to non-Kellian ideas may be another issue) is one of the
things that has kept the group going and growing.

It might make an interesting study along these lines to trace patterns of
communication, referencing, elaboration, and so on in the mailbase to
examine these notions more systematically. Surely someone out there has
archived the whole set of postings, though I can say from experience that
such a study is no mean feat! Any takers on this idea?

--Bob N.

Robert A. Neimeyer, Ph.D.
Department of Psychology
University of Memphis
Memphis, TN 38152
(901) 678-4680
FAX (901) 678-2579