Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Types of Groups

All of us are simultaneously members of various types
of groups. We are members of the family, members of
friendship groups, members of work organisations and
members of fan club or a religious group. Sociologists
have attempted to classify/differentiate the various
types of groups as follows:
Voluntary and Involuntary Groups
Voluntary groups are those we join through our own
choice and effort. We may join a political party or a
particular occupation. In contrast involuntary groups
are those that we are forced to join or those that we
are automatically members of without choice. For
example, everyone is without a choice, automatically a
member of sex, age and racial groups.
Open and Closed Groups
An open group is one in which virtually anyone can
become a member. For instance, all can join the Hrithik
Roshan fan club. A closed group, however, is much more
difficult to join. Some exclusive clubs restrict
membership so that all cannot join. Only a few elites
manage to get memberships in such clubs. Similarly
the mafia (underworld) is a closed group.
Vertical and Horizontal Groups
A vertical group consists of members from all walks of
life, while a horizontal group consists predominantly of
members from one social class. Occupational groups –
of doctors or electricians for instance – are composed
largely of members from the same social class. On the
other hand religious groups may have members from
all classes.
Primary and Secondary Groups
Primary group is one where members develop close,
personal, intimate and enduring relationships. Family,
neighbours and work associates are examples of such
groups. Members know one another well, greatly
influence each other and feel closely related. On the
other hand, in secondary groups individuals act towards
one another in rather impersonal, superficial and
utilitarian ways.
Natural and Formed Groups
Natural groups consist of members who come together
in a spontaneous fashion on the basis of naturally
occurring events, interpersonal attraction or the
mutually perceived needs of members. Family, peer
groups and street gangs are examples of natural groups.
On the other hand formed group consists of members
who come together through some outside influence or
intervention. These are groups that are formed for a
particular purpose. Therapy groups, encounter groups,
committees and teams are examples of formed groups.
The type of group that we discussed last – formed group
– is of great interest to group work as the groups that
we come across in group work predominantly belong to
this type of groups.