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Главная->Соціологія->Содержание->7.2. Classification of Social Groups

Соціология (Англ,рус перевод)

7.2. Classification of Social Groups


Primary and Secondary Groups

The classification of groups into primary and secondary is mainly based on: (a) the quality of relationship between or among the members of the group, and (b) the degree of group identity. People, for example, generally feel more loyal to their family and close friends than to the companies for which they work.

Charles H. Cooley was the first sociologist to use the term “primary groups” to describe such groups as family, neighbourhood and children's play groups. Such groups were the ”nursery of human nature” where the essential sentiment of human group loyalty and concern for others could be learned. Primary groups are distinguished by some of the following characteristics:

1.      There is face-to-face interaction among members.

2.      There is high sentiment or loyalty.

3.      Identification (group identity) and close cooperation among members.

4.      There is a high level of emotional, spiritual satisfaction to be derived from involvement in primary social groups.

5.      Concern for friendly relations as an end in themselves, not as a means to an end.

6.      Primary groups are often small in size.

7.      Primary group gives its members (individuals) their ”first acquaintance with humanity”.

8.      Primary groups, for a child, are a school for earning the ways of human interaction and the give and take of working and playing together.

Secondary groups are the more formal types of groups to which people belong. To start with clearly definitive examples, the Federal Army, Lion’s Club, Ethiopian Commercial Bank, etc., are secondary groups. As organizations, secondary groups do not give people the feeling of close identity that primary groups give. Considerable effort must be devoted to making people proud of the corporation for which they work, and this type of pride, if it is achieved at all, is not primary group sentiment. One can still be lost in the great organization; there is not the same sense of psychological security.

The main features (traits) of secondary social groups include:

1.      There is little or no emotional involvement.

2.      Members are more competitive than cooperative.

3.      Members are less intimate.

4.      Group identity is less relevant.

5.      Economic efficiency is given higher emphasis than psychological identity.

6.      The group is mainly a means to an end rather than an end in itself.

7.      Membership is unlimited.

         The classification of social groups into primary and secondary should not be taken as a sort of dichotomy. It should rather be considered as a continuum, i.e. at the two extreme ends, there may be crystallized primary and secondary groups, and in between the two extremes, there are mixtures of the two types.

Quasi-social groups

Quasi-groups are those kinds of social groupings which lack the essential features of social groups. In this kind of grouping, there may be no functional integration among members. There are little or no structured and patterned social relationships. There are two types of quasi groups: aggregates and categories.

A social aggregate is quasi-social grouping in which two or more people are physically together at a certain time and at a certain place. Physical proximity grouping a real social group can emerge. Examples of an aggregate include: two or more people in a taxi, bus, air plane, elevator, busy city street, cafeteria, stadium, market, hospital ward, etc.

Categories consist of a plurality or collectively of people who are physically dispersed, but who share common traits and interests. It refers to a social class; or a group of people who are more or less of similar lifestyles, and physical and psychosocial characteristics. There may be little or no social interaction, social structure, social norms, etc; but there is the feeling of belongingness, even though the people may never know each other. However, gradually, a meaningful social grouping can grow out of a category. Examples of a social category include: all female students in higher learning institutions, all students from rural background, HIV – positive persons, etc.

Elementary groups

Elementary groups include dyads and triads. The most elementary network form is the dyad, a social relationship between two nodes or social units (e.g., people, firms, organizations, countries, etc.).

Characteristics of the dyad:

1.      Both partners are intensely absorbed in the relationship.

2.      The dyad needs both partners to live but only one to die.

3.      No “free riders” are possible.

4.      Neither partner can deny responsibility by shifting it to a larger collectivity.

            Triad is a social relationship among three nodes or social units (e.g., people, firms, organizations, countries, etc.).

Characteristics of the triad:

1.      Intensity and intimacy are reduced.

2.      The triad restricts individuality by allowing a partner to be constrained for the collective good. A partner may be outvoted by a majority, for example.

3.      Coalitions are possible.

4.      Third-party mediation of conflict between two partners is possible.

5.      Third-party exploitation of rivalry between two partners is possible.

6.      Third-party divide-and-conquer strategy is possible.

7.      “Free riders” are possible.

8.    It is possible to shift responsibility to the larger collectivity.