Maharashtra State BoardHSC Science (General) 11th

Types of Social Group

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Types of Social Group:

1. In-group and Out-group:

  • Any group or category to which people feel they belong is called as an ‘In-Group’.

  • It’s a group where you regard yourself as ‘we’ or ‘us’.

  • Any group or category where people feel they do not belong is called as an ‘Out-group’

  • William Sumner’s differentiation-
    -In group means ‘we group, and Outgroup means ‘they group’.
    -In group - the sense of belongingness
    -Feeling towards out-group- sometimes sense of indifference, avoidance, disgust, competition or conflict.

  • However, the distinction is a matter of situational definition.

Let us understand this with an example:

When we have intraclass competitions, you would definitely support your class and stand against the other class because of competitiveness. So now In-group here is your division and out-group is the other division. But as it is mentioned, it is a matter of situational distinction, therefore this competitiveness only comes during competitions and you can have an in-group comprising of students from the other division during regular college working days.

2. Voluntary and Involuntary Group:

Charles Elwood’s classification-

  • The voluntary group includes political parties, trade unions, youth organisations, cultural associations etc.
  • Involuntary groups include: family, caste, race etc

Voluntary group

Involuntary group

Membership is based on choice. Consent is mandatory.

Membership is based on birth. It is a compulsion rather than on choice.

Joining or resigning is voluntary.

Leaving is not an option. Rarely, this is possible but the process can be difficult.

Examples: political parties, trade unions, youth organisations etc.

Examples: family, caste, race etc

One relatable example: (Informal example for better understanding of the concept)

Being the part of the class Whatsapp group is involuntary i.e. you don’t have the choice to leave since it’s important and mandatory for all college students and thus, it's an involuntary group. But being the part of the student’s council or member of any club is completely your choice. There is no compulsion and thus, it’s a voluntary group.

3. Small and Large Group:

  • George Simmel’s classification :

  • Sizes are the basis of classification.
    Small groups include- Dyad (a group of two people), Triad (a group of three)
    Large groups include - racial groups, nations and bigger associations.

    Small group

    Large group

    Informal in nature and unpatterned

    Formal in nature and patterned

    based on the informal nature of the interaction

    based on the formal nature of the interaction

    There is personal interaction

    Personal interaction is difficult

    Examples: family, Dyad, Triad, Kin group

    Examples: Race, nation, state, university.

One relatable example: (Informal example for better understanding)

You have a close friend circle in college comprising of maybe three friends, whom we call a ‘Trio’ is the millennial lingo. The way you interact with them isn’t similar to the interactions that you have with the whole class during an interactive session or when you work for an assignment. This is the simple difference between the nature of small groups and large groups.

Things you should know:

  • German sociologist George Simmel is credited as the first sociologist to emphasize the importance of interaction processes within groups.

  • The smallest group of all social groups is the ‘Dyad’ ( two-member group). Eg - A married couple.

  • When a married couple has their first child they become a ‘Triad’ ( a three-member family).

4. Primary and Secondary Group:

  • The groups in which individuals work through mutual co-operation and are very closely related are called primary groups.

  • In secondary groups, mutual relations of persons are not very close.

  1. Primary Group:

  • Charles Horton Cooley coined the term ‘Primary Group’ in 1909 in his book ‘Social Organisation’ to refer to a small group characterised by intimate, face-to-face interaction and co-operation.

  • Primary groups play an important role both in the socialization process and in the development of roles and status. Indeed, primary groups can be instrumental in a person’s day-to-day life. Family, close friends circle, neighbours are primary groups. This group is based on informal relations. Social life begins through this group.

Characteristics of Primary Group:

(i) Physical proximity: This is essential for a primary group. It is on account of physical proximity that family and neighbourhood are primary groups.

(ii) Smallness of the group: It is necessary that the size of the primary group should be limited. The smallness of the group brings out the close relations among its members.

(iii) The permanence of relationship: Permanent close relations create more solidarity among the members.

(iv) Face-to-face relationship: Primary group is based on closeness. In such a group, face-to-face relations creates greater closeness. It is useful for maintaining group stability.

(v) Similar objectives and goals: There is similarity or uniformity of objectives, goals among the members of primary groups. The members respect each other and share all kinds of feelings also.

(vi) The relationship is an end in itself  : The relationship in a primary group is not a means to fulfill any kind of objective. It is an end in itself. The relations in this group are very natural.

(vii) Informal control: There is no formal control over its members. It is conventional and based on emotional bonds.

  1. Secondary Group:

  • The term ‘secondary group’ refers to a formal, impersonal group. This group is exactly the opposite of the primary group and totally different in nature.

  • Dressler and Willis have defined secondary group as follows: “A group in which the relationship among the members is relatively impersonal is called secondary group.”

Characteristics of Secondary Group:

(i) Large size: It is large in size. Membership is large and unlimited when compared to primary groups.

(ii) Indirect relations: The relations among its members are normally indirect. The relations are based on letters, phone, e-mail, WhatsApp etc. Indirect relations are because the members may be spread over distant places.

(iii) Impersonal relations: Persons in secondary groups may not be known to each other personally. Due to its large size, there is limited personal interaction. According to Horton and Hunt, ‘Secondary groups are goal-oriented’.

(iv) Deliberate establishment: As a ‘Special Interest Group’ secondary groups are intentionally formed to fulfill the objectives of its members.

(v) Formal relations: The relations of members of the secondary group are formal in nature. They are based on rules, laws, functioning etc.

Primary group

Secondary group

Intimate face to face relation

Distant relationship

Mutual co-operation is the base

Mutual co-operation is difficult

Instrumental in a person’s day to day life

Non-instrumental in a person’s day to day life

Informal relations

Formal relations

Physical proximity

Physical distance

Small in size

Large in size

Permanence of relationship

Not long-lasting relationship

Identity is the end

Deliberately established for ends

A relationship is an end-in-itself

A relationship is a means to an end

Informal control

Formal control

Examples: Family, Neighbourhood, Peer group, Kin group

Examples: Nation, State, Commercial Companies, Labour Union

One relatable example: (Informal example for better understanding)

Your relationship with your college friends and that with the association of any club are poles apart. They are two distinct relationships and can’t be synonymous in any aspect. In your friendship, there’s no goal to be achieved but is a member of XYZ club you have to think ways to promote your club and achieve goals that are set. They are temporary or they exist only for a short period. Since it’s a college club, you are a member of that club for an academic year. But in friendship, this isn’t the case.

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