Primary and Secondary Groups A group is composed of people who share several features: they must be in regular contact with one another; share some ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving; take one another's behavior into account; and have one or more interests or goals in common. Groups are classified according to how they develop and function. Primary groups meet emotional and support needs, while secondary groups are impersonal and goal oriented.
Other Groups and Networks Reference groups are important in helping us evaluate ourselves and form identities. The formation of in-groups and out-groups demonstrates how groups form boundaries. A social network consists of all of a person's social relationships.
Types of Social Interaction Five types of social interaction are basic to group life. Cooperation occurs when individuals or groups combine their efforts to reach a common goal. Conflict can arise when groups or individuals work against one another. In social exchange, one person voluntarily does something for another and expects a reward in return. Coercion implies forcing others to give in, while conformity is behavior that matches group expectations.
Formal Organizations Two other types of groups are formal organizations and informal organizations. A formal organization is deliberately created to achieve one or more long-term goals. The most easily recognizable examples of formal organizations are bureaucracies. Informal organizations are groups within a formal organization in which personal relationships are guided by norms, rituals, and sentiments that are not part of the formal organization.