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Jurgen Ruesch “Social Process”

Ruesch, Jurgen 1972 . Social process. – Ruesch, Jurgen. Semiotic approaches to human relations. The Hague, Paris: Mouton: 21-46

[…] „social process“, can be studied through the observation of four sets of phenomena. The actual events – that is, those that stand for themselves – can be divided into: (1) behavior, or the functioning of whole organisms or machines and (2) field, or the environment or situational structure in which this behavior takes place. The symbolic events – those that stand for other events – can be divided into: (3) communication, or the symbolic functioning of whole organisms or machines and (4) organization, or the social order (context) in which communication takes place. (21)

The purpose of social organization is to: define group tasks; delineate boundaries in time and space (to each his own); establish priority systems (value systems); provide emergencies (protective services); make new rules (legislature); interpret the rules (judiciary); reinforce the rules (law enforcement); allot positions within the organization (civil service); make decisions (executive); initiate and implement group action (exploration of outer space); and regulate exchange with other groups (competition, cooperation). (25-26)

Inside a social organization the position that an individual holds defines his tasks, his rights, and his obligations. With it goes power, or the ability to make other people act in certain ways. (26)

The role that a person assumes is determined by what he thinks, feels, and does. Role is independent of position and does not wield power. A role is nothing but a typology of expressing the mutual relationship of people: father-son, leader-follower. Role is self-chosen, and the public may show respect for certain roles (hero) and, conversely, contempt for others. (26)

In the first instance, the action serves need satisfaction; in the second instance, it may be perceived by self or by others, and at that moment it becomes a message. Intention, therefore, which plays such a role in legal procedures, cannot be used in communication, because unintentional messages may have as much impact as intentional messages. (28)


The operational disciplines thus are distinguished from the basic sciences in that they are more familiar with the specifics than with the general, more apt to  seize on the exceptionn than on the rule, more likely to be confronted with breakdown than with smooth procedures. […] the operations expert is called in when long-term predictability fails. (30)

But order can only be understood, explaine, and implemented through use of the symbolic process which enables a person or a group to represent events that have already occurred or will occur at another time or place. (32/34)

With the influence of cybernetics and social and behavioral science, there seems to emerge at the present in the managerial disciplines a general theory of social process suitable for a variety of purposes. It is based upon three verifiable assumptions: (1) that information controls action; (2) that feed-back of the effects of action changes the informational state of the cell, organ, organism, or group; and (3) that this new informational state becomes the base for the next action. (34)

To acknowledge and to be acknowledged are satisfactory to the individual, proving that he is connected with others in spite of being separate or different from them. Agreeing implies the isolation of a certain aspect within the universe of discourse, and the establishment of corresponding views or opions between two or more peope with respect to that aspect. To reach an agreement is a most satisfying experience and a prerequisiste for action. With these three processes, people regulate their social encounters and the tensions that these encounters produce. (36) [under and over-organization tensions]

[…] informal communication serves adaptation, while programming and organization aim at better control. Programming of an individual’s life or of a group’s activities contains the following ingredients: allotment of proper space; allotment of proper time; regulation of energy household; allotment of proper funds; allotment of proper technical resources; and integration of space, time, energy, funds, and resources into a pattern of living. (38)

The rules of the small group have in some ways to be coordinated with the laws of society at large, and the roles held in a small group must be familiar to members of other groups. (38)

Underlying all of the approaches to the study of man is his ability to interact and relate to others – a faculty which has been described as „social process“. (39)

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