More, Douglas M.||Seymour, Sam Frederick, 1922-
M.A. (Master of Arts)
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Social groups; Behaviorism (Psychology)
The problem of student unrest is approached from the theoretical perspective of collective behavior as stated by Smelser. Smelser's structural conduciveness is singled out as the appropriate stage of development of student unrest. As stated, however, structural conduciveness focuses on the nature of social structure and social process without explaining such questions as: What is the mechanism of individual involvement? What kinds of persons are likely to become involved? How may these social psychological variables be related to the context of the social structure? An examination of the related research uncovers three aspects of individual character which repeatedly appear. (1) Attitude toward the social system or community of involvement is a determinant of the propensity to engage in collective disorder. (2) Another determinant is the degree of involvement in the social structure. (3) Finally, individuals may be classified according to their social marginality as indicated by their consensus with the dominant normative conceptions. Previous research suggests a middle range theory which may be stated: 1. The less favorable the attitude toward the university community, the less the extent of involvement in the university community. 2. The less the extent of involvement in the university community, the more behavior productive of social disorder will be perceived as legitimate. 3. The more behavior productive of social disorder is perceived as legitimate, the less favorable will be the attitude toward the university community. The following propositions refer to students by class status and by status of marginality: 4. As students move from freshmen through junior status: A. the more favorable their attitude toward the university community; B. the less behavior productive of social disorder will be perceived as legitimate; and, C. the greater the extent of involvement in the university community. 5. The greater the marginality: A. the less favorable the attitude toward the university community. B. the more behavior productive of social disorder will be perceived as legitimate. C. the less the extent of involvement in the university community. A questionnaire was constructed to measure: (1) an individual's attitude toward the university community; (2) his level of involvement in the university community; (3) his self-disclosed, perceived legitimacy of disorderly tactics; and, (4) his social marginality with respect to adherence to statements reflecting non-conforming, academic, vocational, and collegiate value orientations. The sample was taken from a large midwestern university and consisted of male freshmen, sophomore, and junior students. The sampling technique was a stratified, successive random sample. A factor analysis of the responses reproduced the "attitude," "legitimacy," and "commitment" patterns and a total of fourteen sub-categories which were identified as facets of the dominant patterns. Respondents were scored on social marginality and arrayed in increasing marginality. Correlational and multiple correlational analysis tended to support the middle range theory offered and the proposition relating to social marginality. Proposition four was not supported. The conception of the increasingly adapting student was abandoned for a conception of freshmen dependency, sophomore alienation, and junior re-adaptation. In spite of limitations imposed by the nature of the sample gathered the present exploratory research serves to organize and integrate previous research and theory into a more comprehensive middle range theory while retaining the quality of testability. A research instrument and analytic scheme of sufficiently rigorous a nature as to lead to confirmation or disconfirmation are also offered. The net result of present work is a more comprehensive understanding of the behavioral aspects of structural conduciveness. This perspective indicates that people will engage in disorderly social behavior who: Do not participate in the activities of the community nor feel themselves a part of it; and, do not esteem or value their membership in the community of which they are a part; nor share the perspectives of the majority as to what constitutes the accepted norms of social behavior. This elaboration of structural conduciveness may be considered a middle range theory suitable for further empirical testing along the lines set forth by the foregoing research design.
Hornback, Kenneth E., "Toward a middle range theory of collective behavior" (1970). Graduate Research Theses & Dissertations. 6481.
xii, 112 pages
Northern Illinois University
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