Although explicit attention to the role of small groups has waned in sociology, an empirical understanding of the interaction order is increasing. A focus on the group—the meso-level of analysis—enriches both structural and interactional approaches, stressing shared and ongoing meaning. Groups constitute social order, just as groups are themselves constituted by that order. The examination of local action reveals how interaction orders emerge and create meanings that spread throughout a wider network. Despite the limits of a meso-level analysis in examining both external webs of constraint and immediate negotiations, this approach addresses identity, social capital, collective action, group culture, networks, and civil society. By building on collective identity, shared history, common spaces, and ongoing social relations, groups provide mechanisms through which individuals fit into larger structures and through which social structures shape individuals.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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