What are the essential characteristics of Primary Group in sociology ?

On the basis of nature and quality of social interaction groups have been classified into primary and secondary groups. The concept of primary group' is a significant contribution of an American social psychologist Charles Horton Cooley. He has introduced the term Primary Group in his book 'Social Organisation' published in 1909. In this book he mentions primary group as the nucleus of all social organisations. It is a small group in which few persons come in direct contact with one another.

Characteristics of Primary Group:

Primary groups are universal groups. They are the chief basis of what is universal in human nature and human ideals. The 'self is developed and moulded by the primary group relations. Primary groups socialise the individuals. Before the growth of cities, the majority of associations occurred in primary groups.

(1) Small size:

The main characteristic of primary group is its small size. The character of the group tends to change with its size. The increase in the size of the group has a negative effect on the intimacy of the members.

(2) Physical :

Physical proximity provides an opportunity for the very development of primary groups. Eating, playing, studying together are the symbol of closeness.

(3) Direct Co-operation:

Primary group is characterised by direct co-operation between its members. The members do not act independently nor even interdependently, but all participate in the same process. Work is essentially a mode of sharing a common experience. Thus its members work directly and in co-operation with each other to achieve their common interests.

(4) Identity of ends:

The identification of end is connected with the fusion of personalities within the group. They work together for the attainment of their common ends without dis-agreement. They look at the world through the same eyes.

(5) Personal relationship:

Kingsley Davis says, "The primary relationship is a matter of persons; it exists because of the person, not despite him". This means the relationship in primary group is personal and disappears it the particular person disappears from it.

(6) Stability of the group:

A primary group is relatively a permanent group. It is one of the main features of primary group. The longer the group remains together, the deeper are the contacts between its members.

(7) Limited self-interest:

Members of the group sub-ordinate their personal interests to the interests of the group. The common interest of the group is strong enough to control individual interests.

(8) Similar background:

The members of a primary group must have more or less the same background. Each must have something to contribute, to give as well as to take. The person who is too far above or below it, disturbs the process of group participation.

(9) Unspecialised character:

A primary group is not deliberately created nor it is specialised in character. It has not come into being for the pursuit of any particular interest of the people. On the other hand, the interest of primary groups are always comprehensive. Hence, the group is unspecialised in character.

(10) Communication:

In case of primary group communication is very quick and effective. Direct or face-to-face contact helps easy
communication between the members.


Primary groups secure external advantages for its features.