I expect to start teaching a new class next Wednesday night, a 7-part series I call "Tzibburology." We'll be looking at the intersection of Halachah and Social Science: Breakaway minyanim; Social eating, seudot mitzvah and sumptuary laws; Maris Ayin (concern for the appearance of impropriety) and more.
The first class, Gd-willing, will be on the issue of Breakaway Minyanim: Halachic issues, How they are good and/or bad for a community, and What a community can do about them.
Of course, from a halachic perspective there is a great deal of literature on the topic, dating back many centuries. Some relevant in-favor issues include the positive value of building a shul, and the need for kavvanah in prayer as well as for a comfortable social network. On the other hand, there is a concern about multiplying institutions which then detract from each other (קפסקת לחיותאי), as well as an element of avoiding schism (לא תתגודדו), and of pursuing prayer in large communal gatherings (ברב עם).
The sociology standpoint is equally fascinating, I am finding. I've been doing some research into Dunbar's Number and the idea that social networks can only grow to a certain size (Malcolm Gladwell famously developed this theme in The Tipping Point), and therefore the possibility that shuls truly should remain at a capped size, in order to preserve unity and religious growth. I'm also looking into ways communities can mitigate the disaffectedness that comes with growth, to enable shuls to serve larger populations.
Churches, of course, have been dealing with this issue for a long time, and have a lot of material out on the matter. Here are some of the articles and sites I've been perusing to prepare for the Social Science aspect of this shiur:
I'm really looking forward to this.