What is a Group?

A social group is a number of individuals who share a common bond or relationship and have a particular goal or purpose. Members of groups interact with one another, have certain expectations of each other and try to accept each other.

Types of Groups:

  1. Primary Groups - these are small and identified by intimacy, face-to-face contact and the length of time that they exist.

    eg. A family and a class within a school are examples of primary groups.

  2. Secondary Groups - are much larger than primary groups. This leads to less frequent interaction among members, ant there is less intimacy than in the smaller primary groups.

    eg. Trade unions, political parties (UNC, PNM, ILP, etc.) and business organizations are examples of secondary groups.

Formal vs. Informal Groups:

Informal Group
Formal Group

The example of the Informal group above is a group of friends having drinks at a sidewalk cafe, while the Formal group is illustrated by Dr. Rudranath Capildeo (then Leader of the Opposition) giving an address in the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago, on 31 August 1962 (the afternoon of our Independence).
What do you think are the differences between the two types of groups shown above?

Characteristics of Formal & Informal Groups:

Informal Groups
Formal Groups
  • Does not have an official leader.
  • Has no set rules.
  • Can exist for brief/short periods of time.
  • Members can join and leave as they choose.
  • Has an official leader who is either elected or appointed into his/her position.
  • Has a constitution, or a book of laws/rules/regulations.
  • Has longevity, or exists for a long period of time.
  • Has requirements for members to join.

Group Dynamics:

Group dynamics involves the interaction between members of groups as well as the interaction between different groups. These types of interaction between and among social groups can be summarized into four major actions:

  1. Cooperation - when cooperation occurs within a group, it creates and environment in which members can work together to achieve a specific goal. When cooperation occurs between groups, it can encourage a greater level of cooperation within the participating groups. It also encourages development of team work and the feeling of the group as being one 'unit'.

  2. Competition - when there is an atmosphere of competition between members within a group, it often promotes motivation to improve skills and performance. Members constantly strive to complete their task/function to the best of their ability. When competition happens between groups forces members of the groups to cooperate in using their skills and abilities to their highest standard.

  3. Compromise - this is when members of the group balance or try to settle a problem or obstacle in a way that is beneficial to everyone. It can involve giving up something that you want for the greater benefit of achieving a goal/objective.

  4. Conflict - this arises when there is a 'clash of personalities' between members of a social group. In some cases, conflict may arise because of a difference of opinion about another member or about how to achieve a group goal/objective. One way that groups avoid situations of conflict is to practice 'conflict resolution'.

Groups and Leadership:

Good leadership ensures that the group's goals and objectives will be set and achieved. Leaders provide a vision for members. A good leader should be able to adapt and change, because of the needs of the group members, the goals of the group, and the environment that the group exists in.

As a result, the leader may adopt several styles to function effectively in different situations.

Types of Leaders/ Leadership Styles:

  1. Democratic or Participative Leader -
    • shares decision making with others.
    • accepts suggestions from others members.
    • uses the talents, skills, abilities and experiences of all.
    • interacts with members.

  2. Authoritarian or Autocratic Leader -
    • makes all the decisions and then informs the group.
    • does as he/she wants.
    • believes that getting the task done is the most important thing.

  3. Delegative or Laissez-faire Leader -
    • leaves group members to do things on their own.
    • does not get involved much in the group.
    • has little influence/effect on the group members.
    • delegates/assigns tasks to others.
    • does not interfere with the decision-making process.
    • allows the followers to make the decisions and the leader takes responsibility for the decisions.

Home Assignment:

Please read and answer the questions in the article below. Write your answers in your notebook so that your teacher can assess it.