The Hinge: Civil Society, Group Culture, and the Interaction Order

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Although often perceived as distant, social psychology and political sociology have much to offer each other. I build upon a meso-level analysis to examine how groups provide the basis for involvement within civil society. Erving Goffman's concept of the interaction order proves auspicious for this analysis as it permits the examination of how action routines, organized through groups, connect individuals with larger social systems. Commitments to group cultures-idiocultures-permit allegiance to larger social systems and help to solve the Hobbesian problem of how order is possible. To demonstrate the value of a meso-sociological approach, I address six themes that provide for a group-centered analysis of civil society: (1) group cultures serve as commitment devices, (2) social capital and social relations provide opportunities for creating efficacy, (3) shared spaces serve as platforms for a public sphere, (4) performances permit the coordination of frames of action, (5) collective pasts create the basis for a common future, and (6) forms of social control establish interactional stability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-26
Number of pages22
JournalSocial Psychology Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2014


  • civil society
  • group culture
  • idioculture
  • interaction order
  • political sociology
  • small groups

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

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