Human nature itself requires men to group together. Life in society is a necessary condition for the survival of the human species.
Since the beginning, men have lived together, forming social groups , such as families, for example. For sociologist Karl Mannheim, the contacts and social processes that bring individuals closer or further apart cause the emergence of different forms of social groupings, according to the stage of social integration. Such forms are social groups and social aggregates.
Let’s look first at social groups: those that, due to more lasting social contacts, result in more stable forms of social integration. Social groups have their own rules, habits and customs, division of functions and defined social positions. As examples we have: the family, the school, the Church, the club, the State etc.
Social group is the meeting of two or more people, associated by interaction, and, therefore, capable of joint action, aiming to achieve a common goal.
The individual, throughout his life, participates in various social groups.
The main ones are:
- Family group – family;
- Vicinal group – neighborhood;
- Educational group – school;
- Religious group – Church;
- Leisure group – club, association;
- Professional group – company;
- Political group – State, political parties.
Main characteristics of a social group
- Plurality of individuals– there is always more than one individual in the group;
- Social interaction– in the group, individuals communicate with each other;
- Organization– every group, to function well, needs a certain internal order;
- Objectivity and exteriority– social groups are superior and external to the individual, that is, when a person enters the group, he already exists; when it leaves, it continues to exist;
- Intentional content or common objective– the members of a group unite around certain principles or values, in order to achieve an objective of the whole group; the importance of values can be seen from the fact that the group usually divides when a conflict of values occurs; a political party, for example, may be divided when a part of its members disagrees with its basic principles;
- Group conscience or feeling of “us”– these are the group’s ways of thinking, feeling and acting; there is a more or less strong feeling of sharing a series of ideas, thoughts, ways of acting; an example of this is the fan who, when talking about the victory of his team, says: “We won”;
- Continuity– temporary interactions do not form organized social groups; for that, it is necessary that they have a certain duration; as an example, we have the family, the school, the Church, etc .; there is; however, groups of ephemeral duration, which appear and disappear easily, as, for example, the task force.
Based on the classification of contacts in primary and secondary, social groups can be classified into:
- Primary groups– are those in which primary contacts predominate, that is, the most personal, direct contacts, such as family, neighbors, the group of toys, etc .;
- Secondary groups– these are the most complex social groups, such as churches and the State, in which secondary contacts predominate; social contacts, in this case, take place in a personal and direct way but without intimacy – or indirectly, through letters, telegrams, telephone, etc .;
- Intermediate groups– are those in which the two forms of social contacts alternate and complement each other (primary and secondary). An example of this type of group is the school.