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The distinction between primary and secondary groups serves to identify between two orders of social organization through analysis of the group relationships and their nature.

A primary group is typically a small social group (small-scale society) whose members share close, personal, enduring relationships. These groups are marked by members' concern for one another, in shared activities and culture. Examples include family, childhood friends, and highly influential social groups. The concept of the primary group was introduced by Charles Cooley, a sociologist from the Chicago School of sociology, in his book Social Organization: A Study of the Larger Mind. Although the group initially referred to the first intimate group of a person's childhood, the classification was later extended to include other intimate relations.[1] Primary groups play an important role in the development of personal identity. A primary group is a group in which one exchanges implicit items, such as love, caring, concern, animosity, support, etc. Examples, of these would be family groups, love relationships, crisis support groups, church groups, etc. Relationships formed in primary groups are often long-lasting and goals in themselves. They also are often psychologically comforting to the individuals involved and provide a source of support.

People in a secondary group interact on a less personal level than in a primary group. Since secondary groups are established to perform functions, people’s roles are more interchangeable. A secondary group is one you have chosen to be a part of. They are based where many people can meet close friends or people they would just call acquaintances. Secondary groups are groups in which one exchanges explicit commodities, such as labour for wages, services for payments, etc. Examples of these would be employment, vendor-to-client relationships, etc.

See alsoEdit

Sources and external linksEdit

  • Appelbaum, R. P., Carr, D., Duneir, M., Giddens, A., 2009, "Conformity, Deviance, and Crime." Introduction to Sociology, New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., p 137.
  • McGraw Hill online Sociology Glossary


  1. ^ Andersen, Margaret L. and Taylor, Howard F. (2010) Sociology: The Essentials, p.129, Cengage Learning