Primary Group Meaning, Definition and Characteristics

Thu, 09/04/2014 - 02:56 -- Umar Farooq

Many scientists coined definitions of social group in different contexts. Some of the important definitions are given. Cooley gave this type of social group in the book "social organizations": "Primary group is the simplest and the most universal of all the forms of associations. This attains social solidarity among the members due to high rate of interaction, intensity in social contacts, and duration of contact being extensive and having a common focus of attention for the members."

According to MacIver and Page, group means "any collection of human beings who are brought into social relationship with one another". According Ogburn and Nimkoff "whenever two or more individuals come together and influences one another, called social group".  Emory S. Bogardus defines it as: "a number of persons, two or more, who have common objects of attention, who are stimulating to each other, who have common loyalty and participate in similar activities".

Meaning of Primary Group

Primary groups are primary in the sense that the members within are emotionally attached together sharing their basic ways of life with one another. In the basic affairs of life which are most essential for a social life those who fall into mutual sharing of one another form a group prime in importance called Primary group. Emotions, attitude, ideas and habits of individuals develop within this.

Characteristics of Primary Group

Following are the important characteristics of primary group:

  1. Face-to-face interaction: Primary groups are characterized by close intimate and face to face interaction.
  2. Intimacy: Here everyone knows everyone else and there is strong intimacy among the members. They are even known to nick names of their members.
  3. Mutual Aid & Help: Mutual aid assistance among the members of the groups always found. They cooperate with each other at the time of help.
  4. Consciousness of kind: Consciousness of kind exists. If means they recognize one another and express it whenever needed.
  5. We – Feeling: we – feeling (sense of unity and commonality) is found among the members of the group. It means they live together as one body.
  6. Small in Size: Primary groups are smaller in size. Large number decreases intimacy and loose the bond of the group.
  7. Physical proximity or nearness: face-to-face relation can be found only when members live in a particular area more or less on permanent basis.
  8. Frequent Interaction: Interaction among members of the group is frequent and it can be many times in a day.
  9. Personal relation: In this, interest of each is centered in others as persons. They interact with each other on the basis of personal relation.
  10. Similarity of background: Members must have more or less similar background.

These conditions are necessary for a primary group. Family members like father, mother, brother, sister, wife, and children are its members. Neighborhood members are also a part of this. Close friends and relatives are also part of this group.

Any person who is influenced and builds his personality from other persons is a member of his primary group. All such persons affecting personality of individual are his primary group members. Any person to whom you cannot refuse is a member where you are belonging. It is the most important for the individual.

Examples of Primary Groups in Sociology

Family neighborhood, play group, gossip group and the gang are the examples of primary group.

What are the Functions of Primary Groups in Society

Primary group is important for both individual and society and the medium which help to learn from our culture. These groups make individuals of the society to lead better social life. Following are the important functions

  1. Personality Development of individual of society by establishing social nature & ideas
  2. These Satisfy psychological needs of members of society like mental peace and security etc.
  3. A source of motivation in pursuit of their members’ interest and objectives through inspiration and cooperation and promoting efficiency
  4. Increasing the democratic spirit of individuals with strong behavior with people and social institutions
  5. These are the important informal factors of social control of its members and to organize their relations in a more formal way.