Social Group is an aggregate collection of persons having a common interest and interacts with each other and share similar characteristics and a sense of unity.The nature of social group is either formal or informal. When there are rules and regulations, scheduled meeting times, official roles assigned to members then it is called formal social group which is mainly created by the organization. Informal social groups lack formality and there may be unwritten values which governs the interaction of the members of the group (group of friends, family, etc.).Some of the important characteristics of social groups are as follows:
- Collection of Individuals:
Social group is the collection of individuals which are the base of social groups. Just as a college or any other institutions cannot be imagined without students and teachers, etc. a group cannot be imagined without people. People are the most important for any group.
- Interaction among Members:
Interaction is the basis of social life and in every social group there must have regular interaction among its members. Only having a collection of individuals does not make a social group if the members do not interact with each other.
- Mutual Awareness:
Just gathering of people cannot form a social group. Mutual relations are considered essential for the formation of a social group. The members inter-related to each other and they are aware of one another. Their behavior is determined by their mutual recognition.
- We feeling:
The sense of we-feeling is most important for any social group. This helps to create group unity among the members and also develops sympathy and co-operation among the group members which is necessary for the smooth running of the group functions.
- Common interests and Group Unity or Solidarity:
People generally form groups in order to fulfill common interests and needs. An individual may join several such groups, as political group, religious group, economic group, educational group, and so on, in order to fulfill her varied and objectives which are identical to other members of that group .The common interest ties the members of a group and they form a sense unity. By virtue of such sense, members of develop loyalty or a feeling of sympathy among themselves.
- Group Behavior:
Group behavior is the social process by which people relate and respond to each other and perform their respected roles as member of the group. Group behavior is guided by a basic unity of purpose and identity of interest. As being a group member all the members in a group behave more or less in a similar way for the achievements of interests and goals.
- Group Norms:
Rules and norms vary from group to group. Thus Group norms like customs, folkways, mores, traditions, conventions (rules), laws etc. which may or may not be in written form, should be followed by the member of the group and every group has its own means of rewarding, correcting and punishing people if they break the values and norms.
- Size of the Group:
Every social group is different in their sizes. A group may be small as a dyad or big as a political party. In small groups people seem to be more unified, and in large group people seem to be less unified and satisfied.
- Groups are Dynamic:
Groups are Dynamic in nature. Groups experience changes either because of internal or external pressures or forces. For instance, although some groups like families are permanent in nature, they gradually go under changes since old members die and new ones are born.
- Influence on Personality:
Every human being learns the culture like language, norms, beliefs etc. from the members of his group which help him/her to adapt in the environment. Social group provides opportunities of interactions for its members where they can sharpen and flourish their talent and skills.
Stability is one of the important characteristics of social group. Groups are permanent or temporary in nature. Stable groups are family, school group etc. and unstable groups are like the crowd, etc.
Source: Fundamentals of Sociology (Buddha Publication)