Types of Social Groups in Sociology

Thu, 09/04/2014 - 00:41 -- Umar Farooq

We may classify social groups from various viewpoints. If we consider size as the criterion, the single person as a focus of group relationship is 'monad' two involved in interaction to affect its organization is 'dyad' and 'triad' with the participation of three. If we consider the nature of social contact and intensity of social interaction the types of social group will be as such:

Primary Groups

The primary group is primary in the sense that the members 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 here.

Secondary Groups

The people within their contact second to the primary form secondary group no matter whatever the type of relationship is there. The intimacy is relatively lower than that in primary. The relations of teacher and student, buyer and seller, voter and candidate, are secondary. The frequency, duration, intensity and focus in interaction may be there but their degree being lower than the one in primary group. This is second in importance of life to the participants. He is first affected by the primary group members and later by those in the secondary.

In-Group and Out-Group

These types were given by W. C. Sumner.

During the processes of our daily life we divide people into 'we and they'. The interest of the individual rests within those people with whom he is closely affiliated and places his confidence in them. They may be Members of his family, neighborhood, play-group or immediate or close relatives. He develops his subjective attitude and forms opinion about the acceptance or rejection of a certain object or idea through his in-group members. Consciousness kind also falls in this type of social group. The members are tied in the bonds of 'we feel', It is the group to which the individual is member.

'Out group' members are considered in relation to in-group. Those not included in 'we' and fail in `they' are the members of out-group, its members are not members of individuals self. We (in-group) the Russians, they (out-group) the Americans: we the Pathans and they the Sayyed are the examples. It means a person member of a certain group falls in its in-group and a person not member to a group falls in his out-group.

Formal and Informal Groups

Here membership is defined. Those who fulfil the conditions can become member. The entry is made under written rule and the membership can be cancelled on violation of its rules and regulations. The offices are distributed according to the rules. The students in a class are a formal group, other example is the Union Council, people enjoying a match on tickets. United Nations Organization (U.N.O.), SAARC, Punjab Professors and Lecturers Association (PPLA), Youth Club in a mohalla, are also formal groups.

Informal group membership is not defined. Any person can participate and leave it when he likes. People in markets, fairs, listening radio, watching television, listening to a speaker and enjoying the feats of an acrobat on the roadside are the examples of informal groups. Other example is people gossiping in mohalla and children playing in street.

Reference Group

The term reference group was introduced by Muzafer Sherif in his book "an Outline of Social Psychology". Here individual was socialized. Here he identifies himself may include the old members of the family and those who influenced him. Those who left bright effects on the social life of the individual are the members of his reference group.

Ethnic Group

It is the social group which has its cultural traits different from the general culture of the society. These are smaller one widespread at different places in society. They are always in minority and have strong social solidarity among their members due to close and intense social interaction. This has its marriage, customs, beliefs and rituals different from other ones. In Pakistani society, the people of tribal areas, the nomadic tribes, the Hindus, the Christians, the Americans, the Iranians are ethnic groups.


Caste is a permanent social group in which the status of an individual is fixed through heredity alone. The members of a caste usually create Biradri in Indo-Pakistani societies. Caste is the described status received at birth. Caste is an element in determining social stratification in our society. Different castes have different social positions in our society. The people of the same caste from Biradri for intermarriages. Therefore the binding force of Biradri creates Social control among the people. This caste system still prevalent Indian and Pakistani society.


It lays pressure on government to change its policies in its favour. Here are participants are high class people, especially the rich and the diplomats. This enjoys high status in society. Its members also participate in running government and administration.

Vested Interest Group

It is social group which has its own ends. Mostly the economic benefit are the major aims. This one is for the sake of its aims does not interfere in government like the pressure group. But it has its own way by following the government. This sort of social group derives benefit from the government