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Author: Zach Lamb

Differentiate between primary and secondary groups.

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Source: Intro Music by Mark Hannan; Public Domain

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Hello, welcome to sociological studies. Thank you for joining me. In this lesson, we're going to give an introduction to groups, are very basic idea, a very basic part of society, social life, and a subject to sociological study. So we have social groups. And then we have two kinds of these social groups, primary groups, and secondary groups. And we're going to elaborate on the differences between them.

We belong to many groups of all different levels. A group is just simply a collection of two or more people who regularly interact with each other for some purpose. So couples, family, friends, business, your co workers, your business organization, or lifestyle groups like activist groups, environmental groups, even the church at your neighborhood. Just regular interactions. We're a part of many groups at the same time of different types, of primary, and secondary, and we'll elaborate that.

For starters, primary groups are smaller social groups whose members share intimate and lasting personal connections. This is our immediate family and friends. This is what like immediately comes to mind when you hear primary groups. And primary groups are characterized by what sociologists call strong ties.

We're bound together by loyalty and emotional connection. You can't go out and replace your brother in the same way that you can replace a coworker. Primary groups are very first form of human group contact. That's what we call them primary, they're our first form of interaction, and they're very, very important for socialization. We experience first the family and then the friends.

They give us our ideas of right or wrong, our attitudes and behaviors, our world views and outlooks. That's why if somebody's religious or not, or conservative or not, or liberal or not. Often this is shaped in that very first primary group contact.

Lastly then, we have secondary groups. Secondary groups are larger, more impersonal collections of people who join together for a purpose, often some kind of purpose or goal. So we don't know these people as well. We don't know them as well as the people on our primary groups. And secondary groups are characterized not by strong ties, but by what sociologist call weak ties.

Meaning, we have little emotional connection, or not that much personal knowledge of the other person beyond some vague group affinity. So secondary groups are a group of people you get together and play soccer with once a month. It could be your class, a class for a lecture you have. But once the class is dissolved, well, there goes that secondary group.

It could also be everyone in your company. You might see them in the office, you're familiar with their face, you might know their names, but you don't really know that much about them. But yet, you're still united, you still have that group affinity because you share the company. These are secondary groups.

Well thank you for joining me. I hope you enjoyed the discussion of social groups and primary and secondary groups. Have a great rest of your day.

Terms to Know
Primary Groups

A smaller social group whose members share intimate, lasting personal connections.

Secondary Groups

A larger and more impersonal social group that joins together for a specific purpose or goal.

Social Groups

Any collection of two or more people who regularly interact with each other for some purpose.