Social integration is the degree to which an individual feels connected to the other people in his or her group or community.
The term social integration first came into use in the work of French sociologist Émile Durkheim. Durkheim wanted to understand why some people were more likely than others to take their own lives.
Durkheim’s term for a lack of social integration was anomie. He concluded that three characteristics put some people at a higher risk of suicide than others, and that anomie was partly to blame:
Durkheim’s connection of social integration to the suicide rate is still relevant today. People who attempt suicide are much more likely to say they feel lonely and isolated from others and claim to have few significant relationships, confirming what Durkheim hypothesized over one hundred years ago.
The term group dynamics implies that our thoughts and behaviors are influenced by the groups to which we belong and that, in turn, we influence how the group as a whole thinks and behaves.
Example: Children’s behavior is influenced by the behavior of other children. Clothing styles, speech patterns, and mannerisms spread quickly among groups of children. When a few children in a classroom begin using a particular expression, soon all the kids in the class will be using the same expression.