The study of even the smallest groups is extremely complex, with the simplest associations involving an abundance of actions, relationships, emotions, motives, ideas, and beliefs. Homans concentrates on certain activities and processes he observes in five carefully selected and differentiated case studies and from them draws common patterns and ideas that serve as the bases of testable propositions.
He divides his cases into static and dynamic groups. In all five cases, Homans selects comparable phenomena for analysis with a contextually different emphasis and elaboration each time. His results demonstrate that, different as these groups are, their behavior reveals fundamental similarities and social uniformities. A ground-breaking and authoritative work when it was first published in 1950, "The Human Group "continues to Inform and invigorate the study of small groups in sociology, psychology, management, and organizations.
In Relations in Public, Erving Goff man provides a grammar of the unspoken language used in public places. He shows that the way strangers relate in public is part of a design by which friends and acquaintances manage their relationship in the presence of bystanders. He argues that, taken together, this forms part of a new domain of inquiry into the rules for co-mingling, or public order.
Most people give little thought to how elaborate and complex our everyday behavior in public actually is. For example, we adhere to the rules of pedestrian traffic on a busy thoroughfare, accept the usual ways of acting in a crowded elevator or subway car, grasp the delicate nuances of conversational behavior, and respond to the rich vocabulary of body gestures. We behave differently at weddings, at meals, in crowds, in couples, and when alone. Such everyday behavior, though generally below the level of awareness, embodies unspoken codes of social understandings necessary for the orderly conduct of society.