Story vs RPG Part 8: Character emotions
Story vs RPG Part 9: Lies - Our characters darkest secrets
Story vs RPG Part 10: Setting - cultures
Story vs RPG Part 11: Pair Dynamics
Story and Game Structure: Storylines
Story vs RPG Part 12: Larger groups - conformity & deviance
As mentioned in the first culture post leaders of societies can be traditional, charismatic, and bureaucratic. Groups differ from pairs. In pairs two characters are dealing with their personalities mostly. In groups characters are dealing with leaders, status, roles, and ethics. They're more likely to have common group goal and an established means to achieving the group's goal. And judging the members may depend on how well the characters fit within the acceptable means and goals of the group.
Forms of Group LeadershipIn addition to this, there are three leaderships styles. Authoritarian, democratic, and laissez-faire (leave it alone). Authoritarian leadership focuses on instrumental issues, is proactive, and demands conformity of its constituents. Democratic leadership focuses on expressive communication. It tries to be inclusive - involving everyone in the process. A 'leave it alone' leadership doesn't try to fix anything that isn't broken.
Common among fantasy, especially dystopian fantasy, is the concept where an authoritarian regime holds total control over most of society. Then along comes a more democratic rebel group which tries to overthrown the totalitarian regime.
And sometimes the opposite is true as well. A weak scatter fragments struggle in isolation. Along comes some savior type character who tries to unify the fragments and oppose some force or threat to all the groups of the region.
We must unite our tribes to fend off the newly arrived demonic beasts.
Conform vs DeviateAs mentioned in the first post also there are roles, expectations, and assumptions made not only for those in specific roles in a cultural group. There is also many times the desire to make those in the group conform to fit in with everyone else. Conformity pushes obedience. Rejection of conformity can be seen as deviance.
Conformity can range from something simple like some sort of agreed upon rule to a peer group to something much more important like breaking the law - a criminal. Murdering someone breaks an important social law. Killing someone in battle doesn't break the law, unless it is in a manner that is questionable. Stealing breaks the law, but taking a stolen item from someone is okay as long as done correctly. Everything depends on the rules and laws the society has created - their ethical structure. See my post on ethics and morality for a list of different ethical systems.
Sometimes in the attempt suppressing conflict the cultural group leads to groupthink. This is a somewhat common occurrence where eliminating deviance also eliminates creativity, independent thought, and rational decisions. A group under groupthink can become irrational and dysfunctional.
We don't want to fight.
Merton's Strain Theory of DevianceRobert Merton said that social arrangements lead to deviance. In it he looked at two contributing factors which I discussed in the ethics section: the goal and the means to achieve the goal. Once those two things are defined in a group by any type of leader, it also defines deviancy as well.
Accept goal, accept means = conformity
Failure to succeed through normal means leads to these four failures.
Accept goal, reject means = innovation
We need to change how we do things.
Reject goal, accept means = ritualism
I'm just doing what I've got to do.
Reject goal, reject means = retreatism
Why bother. Unplug and dropout.
New goal, new means = rebellion
We're doing the wrong thing in the wrong way.
Also within this structure you can see an implied progression of people from a conformed group all the way to rebellion. A character may start out conforming and then move to either ritualism or innovation. Then to retreatism. After retreatism it could lead to rebellion.
The opposite is true as well. A rebel might find their way slowly into conformity.
Events and experiences have a way of changing characters.