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Reference Groups, Socialization and Achievement

Theodore D. Kemper
American Sociological Review
Vol. 33, No. 1 (Feb., 1968), pp. 31-45
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2092238
Page Count: 15
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Reference Groups, Socialization and Achievement
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Abstract

This paper suggests that there are three important types of reference groups which act together to foster achievement level striving. These are the normative group, the role model and the audience. The normative group defines the roles the individual is to assume, the model provides exemplification of how the role is to be performed, at least adequately, and the audience provides anticipation of rewards for outstanding performance in the role. Expectations for performance level attained in two types of situations are discussed: (a) instances where one or more of the three reference groups is missing in the individual's reference group reporters, and (b) instances where the three reference groups are not "located" in the same concrete group or person. Finally, the reference group theory of achievement is compared with David McClelland's theory of n-Achievement and Max Weber's theory of achievement implicit in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.

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