Group, Types of Group and Differences


Group is a fundamental sociological term that has existed since the beginning of society. A human child is born from a group known as a family. Humans have been living in groups since the beginnings of hunting and gathering society because they realized that it was impossible to survive without living together. People have also lived in groups to protect their existence, gather food, and defend themselves against wild animal attacks.

Just because a band of people is gathered together does not make them a group. Initially, a group can only be called if there is a certain relationship and fellow feeling between multiple people.

In sociology, we can define it more specifically-

A group is reciprocity of more than one person, who interact basis on a goal with similar norms, ethics, values, and perceptions.

It play an important role in modern society’s socialization process. According to Richard T Schaefer

“Groups play a vital part in a society’s social structure. Much of our social interaction takes place within groups and is influenced by their norms and sanctions. Being a teenager or a retired person takes on special meanings when we interact within groups designed for people with that particular status. The expectations associated with many social roles, including those accompanying the statuses of brother, sister, and student, become more clearly defined in the context of a group.”  (Schaefer, 2013)

Sociologist Gisbert in his book Fundamentals of Sociology discussed as-

“A social group is a collection of individuals interacting on or each other under a recognizable structure.” (Gisbert, 1956)


Social Group

Is there any difference between group and social group?

When we talk about any group of people, it will be-

  • a number of people with common objectives,
  • to interact with one another
  • to accomplish their objective and
  • are aware of each other

A social group also needs these fundamental elements. It is therefore hard to distinguish group from social group. But with social group, it may be put some emphasis as a sociological term.

Types of Group

Sociologist Charles Horton Cooley proposed that groups can be broadly classified into two types and coined the terms Primary and Secondary Group (1909).

Primary Group

A primary group is a small group that is recognized by intimatcy, sentiment of loyalty, intensive cooperation and emotional involvement. Cooly uses the terms “members of a family living in the same house” and “play group in a school” as examples (more..).

Secondary Group

Secondary groups are more formal and impersonal in nature, with little social intimacy or mutual understanding. These groups are also larger in size. Industrial workers or office coworkers are examples  (more..).


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