The concept of emergence is becoming increasingly important in many fields that study complex systems, including biology, meteorology, and cognitive science. In an emergent system, interaction among constituent components leads to overall system behavior that could not be predicted from a full and complete analysis of the individual components of the system. Group behavior must be thought of as emergent in those cases where there is not a structured plan guiding the group and where there is no leader who directs the group (Sawyer, 1999).
A small but growing group of psychologists, generally known as socioculturalists, have begun to draw on such theories to draw on such theories to study human action from an interdisciplinary perspective. The concept of emergence has always been a central theme among socioculturalists, who argue that social groups are emergent phenomena and cannot be understood by analyzing the individual members of the group. Socioculturalists are fundamentally concerned with individual agency and with the processes of interaction and communication that give rise to these emergent phenomena--what social theorists sometimes refer to as the "micro-macro" issue (Knorr-Cetina & Cicourel, 1981).