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David brings up a good point about losing important information about
interaction contingencies by aggregating across a conversation. However,
Bales and colleagues found (and so have I) that such aggregation also
yields some robust summary information (particularly in task groups like
meetings). For example, those who address proportionately more remarks
to the group as a whole tend to also speak more in general and also be
the recipients of more directed speech from others. This kind of
information gets lost by coding group-directed speech as (weighted or
unweighted) speech directed to each other participant. To retain that
information you would need to treat the group as a separate "node" if
you were using network techniques. So, for studying hierarchy it may be
more useful to take that kind of approach while looking at outdegree,
whereas if you're more focused on information flow then it may be more
important to treat group directed remarks as if directed to each of the
other members. And, if you really want to understand the interdependence
if the communication turns, you might want to retain and use full
sequencing information. But, to answer your question: yes, it is
legitmate to include "group" as a recipient of communication in a
directional conversation network -- if it helps to answer a question.


Bales, Robert F., Fred L. Strodtbeck, Theodore M. Mills, and Mary E.
Roseborough. 1951. "Channels of Communication in Small Groups." American
Sociological Review 16: 461-468.
Robinson, Dawn T. and Lynn Smith-Lovin. 2001. “Getting a Laugh: Gender,
Status and Humor in Task Group Discussions” Social Forces 80(1):123-158.
Robinson, Dawn T. and James W. Balkwell. 1995. "Density, Transitivity,
and Diffuse Status in Task-Oriented Groups." Social Psychology Quarterly

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>>>In analyzing the communications matrix of a group meeting (who addresses
>>>whom) is it legitimate to include "Group" as a recipient of
>>>communications addressed to the group as whole in a directional network?
Dawn T Robinson
Associate Professor of Sociology
University of Georgia
Athens, GA 30602-1611
phone: 706-542-8948
fax: 706-542-4320

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