Social Group: Primary-Secondary, Introduction, Meaning and Characteristics

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  • Man is a social animal/creature who cannot live alone
  • Social interaction system is social group
  • Established pattern of interaction
  • Any number of people larger or smaller between whom such relations are discovered that they must be thought of together


  • Bogardus said, ″ A social group may be thought of as the number of persons two or more who have some common object of attention who are stimulating to each other who have common loyalty and participate in similar activities
  • Group Is a major unit of analysis in sociology with different criteria
  • on the basis of which social groups may be classified
  • for e. g. on the basis of nature of their interest, degree of organisation, kind of contact among members, et cetera


  • Individuals of a group must be conscious of a common belongingness
  • of sharing some common understanding
  • and excepting some rights and obligations
  • therefore, a family or a class can also be a group


  • Two or more than two individual
  • mutual recognition through distance too like skype
  • Common interest
  • Temporary, once interest is fulfilled the group gets apart like study group
  • Voluntary membership
  • Social groups are smaller in size, interactive members, identify with each other.
  • Small size means 15 - 20 members
  • Shared values and norms
  • So, strong interpersonal bond among and within the group


  • C. H. Cooley in 1909 in his book “Social Organisation”
  • Primary group and secondary group

Characteristics of Primary Group

  • small
  • Homogenous
  • deep emotional relationship
  • selfless relationship
  • meeting is itself the purpose which gives pleasure and joy
  • No specific other goals
  • It ends when members leave
  • Eg friends, family, peer group, neighborhood

Secondary Group Characteristics

  • Large interest-based relationship
  • Shortened superficial relationships
  • Temporary in nature
  • Secondary group is also called the representative of cold war
  • According to Paul Landis , it is based on impersonal relationship
  • the needs of individual creates needs for his secondary group

Tertiary Group

  • Neither primary nor secondary
  • Example: relationship between PM and citizens of India
  • This concept was given by WG Green


1. The classification of group into Primary and Secondary group has been done by —

(a) Cooley

(b) Tonnies

(c) Sumner

(d) Maclver

Ans. a

2. Which are not the characteristics of a primary group?

(a) Own norms/rules

(b) Age

(c) Sex

(d) Face to face interaction

Ans. B and c

3. Which of the following is NOT a primary group?

a) . Mob

b) . Family

c) . Gang

d) . Peer group

Ans. a

#Sociological Concepts