Characteristics of Social Group
The main characteristics of social groups are as follows:
Collection of Individuals: Social group consists of people without individuals there can be no groups. Just as we cannot have a college or a university without students and teachers we cannot have a group in the absence of people.
Interaction Among Members: Social interaction is the very basis of group life. Hence mere collection of individuals does not make a group the members must have interaction. A social group, is in fact a system of social interaction. The limits of social group are marked by the limits of social interaction.
Mutual awareness: Group life involves mutual awareness. Group members are aware of one another and their behaviour is determined by this mutual recognition. This may be due to what Giddings calls ‘the consciousness of kind”.
‘We-feeling’: ‘We-feeling’ refers to the tendency on the part of the members to identify themselves with the groups. It represents group unity. ‘we-feeling’ creates sympathy in and fosters co-operation among members. It helps group members to defend their interests collectively.
Group Unity and Solidarity: Group members are tied by a sense of unity. The solidarity or integration of a group is largely dependent upon the frequency, the variety, and the emotional quality of the interactions of its members. A family or a friends’ group, or a religious group is highly united and integrated, because its members are related by several common interests and have frequent social contacts with one another and express a high degree of morale and of loyalty. Unity is maintained more often by conscious effort.
Common Interest: The interests and ideals of group are common. Groups are mostly formed or established for the fulfillment of certain interests. In fact, men not only join groups but also form group for the realization of their objectives or interests. Form of the groups differs depending upon the common interests of the group. Hence, there are political groups, religious groups, economic groups, educational groups, racial groups, national groups and so on.
Similar behaviour: The members of the group behave in more or less similar way for the pursuit of common interests. Social groups represent collective behavior.
Group Norms: Every group has its own rules or norms which the members are supposed to follow. These norms may be in the form of customs, folkways, mores, traditions, conventions, laws, etc. they may be written or unwritten norms or standards. Every group has its own ways and means of punishing or correcting those who go against the rules. The continued group-life of man practically become impossible without some norms.
Size of the Group: Every group involves an idea of size. Social groups vary in size. A group may be as small as that of dyad (two members’ group e.g., husband-and-wife-family) or as big as that of a political party having lakhs of members. Size will have its own impact on the character of the group.’
Groups are Dynamic: Social groups are not static but dynamic. They are subject to changes whether slow or rapid. Old members die and new members are born. Whether due to internal of external pressures or forces, groups undergo changes.
Stability: groups are stable or unstable, permanent or temporary in character. Some groups like, the crowd, mob, audience, spectators’ group etc., are temporary and unstable. But many groups are relatively permanent and stable in character.
Influence on Personality: Social groups directly or indirectly shape the personality of their members. They also provide opportunities for the expression of individuality.