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Peer Groups

Peer Groups
Expanding Our Study of Small Group Communication

  • SunWolf - Santa Clara University, USA

September 2008 | 240 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
Peer Groups: Expanding Our Study of Small Group Communication is the first textbook to explore and discuss group communication dynamics with the group that most students are already familiar with—peer groups. This book brings alive for students many existing group theories, while showcasing under-utilized theories that usefully explain the processes of the groups in which people (and students in particular) spend most of their time.

Peer Groups uses a variety of traditional and nontraditional theories and concepts to examine the dynamics of four real world peer groups: children's play, adolescence cliques, gangs, and juries. It moves from the earliest childhood experiences in groups, through adolescence and young adulthood, to peer groups as conscripted service (juries). Further, the book pays important attention to the common painful and dysfunctional aspects of being a member of peer groups: group exclusion, moral and legal misbehaviors, and the rule-breaking behaviors and regrets of members of peer groups.

1. Peer Group Lenses
Theoretical Lights That Illuminate Peer Group Dynamics

Beyond Theories

Using Multiple Theoretical or Conceptual Lenses

Critical Thinking About Group Theories and Concepts

2. Peer Groups in Childhood: Learning the Rules of Peer Play
Communication Processes in Early Childhood Peer Groups

Communicating Values About Group Rules in Early Childhood Peer Groups

Gender Differences in Childhood Groups

Strategies Children Use to Gain Entry to Playgroups

Leadership in Children's Playgroups

Silent Childhood Stresses

Tales of Peer Group Rejection

Conceptualizing Peer Group Interventions

New Theoretical Lenses

Critical Thinking About Children's Peer Groups

3. Peer Groups in Adolescence: The Power of Rejection
Freaks, Geeks, Jocks, and Stars

Communicating Group Values in the Culture of Adolescent Peer Groups

Strategies That Adolescents Use to Attempt to Gain Entry to Peer Groups

Bittersweet Peer Power

Adolescent Group Boundaries

Conceptualizing Peer Group Interventions

Critical Thinking About Adolescent Peer Groups

4. Peer Groups in Neighborhoods: Hoodies, Homies, and Gangsta Girls
Homeboys and Hoods

Gangsta Girls

New Theoretical Lenses

Critical Thinking About Neighborhood Peer Groups

5. Peer Groups That Super-Task: Hot Groups
Hot Groups

The Hot Group State of Mind

Workin' From Can't to Can't

New Theoretical Lenses

Critical Thinking About Peer Groups that Super-Task

6. Peer Groups as Decision Makers: Juries
Scene: Courthouse Jury Assembly Room

Historical Juries

Enacting Group Leadership

Structuring Member Communication

The Work of Jury Work

When Peers Disagree

Regret Among Peers

Conceptualizing Peer Group Interventions

New Theoretical Lenses

Critical Thinking About Juries and Decision-Making Peer Groups


"I enjoyed the book, learned a LOT, and LOVE her creativity in discussing different examples that help group constructs some to life. It represents the breadth of the new Group Communication Division in NCA better than any book I have seen."

David Seibold
University of California, Santa Barbara

"I can unequivocally state that the proposed text is LONG overdue! Over the years I have reviewed several text proposals. SunWolf's proposal ranks in the 99th percentile. . . . This is one of the most innovative, heuristic, pragmatic, and engaging proposals I have ever perused."

Jim L. Query, Jr.
University of Houston

"Peer Groups is different from the run-of-the-mill group text book. I can see that my students will learn so much more from Dr. SunWolf's orientation than they have from the other books I've used. The benefits are that the topics related to [students'] practical world and that there is so much to foster in-class discussion. Although many students are familiar with the ‘work world,’ they are not yet there. Dr. SunWolf provides them with what is relevant in their lives now!"

Audrey E. Kali
Framingham State College

I have used this book for a number of years in an upper level Group Communication course on a study abroad semester. The book provides excellent foundational theories that students can then use to analyze our group. It is also one of the few books that gets into peer groups instead of the traditional task oriented groups.

Peggy Kendall
Communication Studies, Bethel College
February 8, 2017

It did not meet our expectations

Professor John McNerney
Humanities Comm Graph Des Dept, Suny Cobleskill
September 28, 2009

Sample Materials & Chapters

Ch. 1 - Peer Group Lenses



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