In this article we will discuss about meaning and types of group.
Meaning of Group:
When we talk of psychology of the group, by group we do not mean a crowd or mob of people, without any common goal or aim. Every collection of the people does not constitute a psychological group. The fundamental condition is that the members of the group should act, feel and think together.
The distinction between an ordinary crowd and a psychological group is made clear by the following examples:
(a) Thousands of people, constituting of all sorts of people, buyers, sellers, pedlars, rickshaw-pullers, tonga-drivers, scooter-drivers, taxi-drivers, hawkers, jugglers etc., pass through a bazar, say Chandni Chawk, Delhi. Every one of them is bent upon his own task. Hence these do not form a psychological group. But on Republic Day, when the State Procession passes through the same bazar, all the people watching the procession form a psychological group, for they have a common goal. The persons engaged in the procession form another group.
(b) In public park, everyone or every family has its own back of sitting and enjoying. But the moment, a juggler begins to display his feats, all the people assemble round him and form a psychological group.
(c) Some boys may be loitering in the bazaar or in a compound. But as soon as the school bell rings, and all the boys assemble in the school or class-room, they form a group.
Definition of Group:
(1) Fielder – “By group, we generally mean, a set of individual whoshare a common fate, that is who are interdependent in the sense that an event which affects one member is likely to affect all”.
(2) M.C. David defines a group, “A Social Psychological group is an organized system of two or more individuals who are interrelated so that the system performs some functions, has a standard set of the role relationship among its members and has a set of norms that regulate the function of the group and each of its members.”
Types of Groups:
A group a can be classified as follows:
When two or more individuals meet, they form a crowd. It is a psychological group which has come together temporarily, only to dissolve soon. An accident takes place, and a crowd gathers. A magician begins his magic, a snake crawls amidst people, a boy is drowned in the pool, an auctioneer announces his auction of goods, a drumbeater makes the royal announcement, a street quarrel takes place, a player falls unconscious in the play-field and in all such situations, a crowd is formed.
The crowd has no permanent goals, but only transitory aim. Its collective modes of thinking, feeling and acting are temporary. The crowd may be compared to an individual on the perceptual level of mental development. ‘Like a very young child or animal, it merely follows the impulse of the moment.’
The chief characteristics of the crowd are:
(i) Crowd is a collection of people for a short time, as long as the common source of interest lasts.
(ii) Crowd may adopt a conduct different than that of the individual. The individual may not be courageous, but he shows exceptional courage in the group.
(iii) The crowd is governed by emotions. The tendencies of sympathy and suggestion are most active.
A club has a common interest, ideal, sentiment or goal, more permanent than that of a crowd. It is not held together by a purely temporary impulse or excitement. The Rotary or Y.M.C.A. has a definite aim, objective and goal, by which all its members are bound together. The goals of a club are clearly defined. The club meets in a planned manner, not instantaneously (as a crowd does). It has got some past memories, traditions and cultural interests, which bind the individual members.
A dramatic club in the school has the common goal of display of creativity and self-expression through dramatization. It may have already acquired a name in the past, by staging dramas. It wants to continue the past traditions, and act as an agency of publicity for the school.
(c) Community or Nation:
It is more permanent than crowd or club. It represents not merely common interests and sentiments but the entire life of the members. A community has its past – a racial mneme. It has its past culture and civilization, art and literature and common economic, political and social bonds. A nation is the community of this type.
But a school also is a community, as the entire body of students and teachers are bound together by a permanent goal. The school has its past traditions. It is concerned with the whole life of the pupils, and not with just one single interest (as in the case of a club).
Some writers have classified groups into:
(a) Primary, and
In a primary group, the members are in face to face relationship with one another e.g., in a family, class, club and village panchayat. In a secondary group, the members meet only indirectly through various means of communication, e.g., trade union, pen-friends, nation etc.
Many more methods of classification have been presented. One is permanent and temporary groups. Family, village community and school are permanent groups. Accidental crowds in the street or at the bus stop or railway station are temporary groups. These may also be named as purposive and accidental groups respectively. Another name for the same is organised and unorganised groups.
On the basis of magnitude of the groups, these are named as major and minor groups. In some groups everybody can become a member. These are open groups. In secret societies, where membership is not open to all is closed group.