How to classify social group in sociology?


Different sociologists have classified social groups in different ways. The chief base of these classifications are functions, scope and stability. Following are the important classifications of social groups.

1. Dwight Sanderson’s classification:

Dwight Sanderson has classified social group into three types, namely (i) Involuntary group, (ii) Voluntary group and (iii) Delegate group


(i) Involuntary groups: – Involuntary groups are those, which are based on blood relationship or kinship. Family is an involuntary group.

(ii) Voluntary groups: – Voluntary groups are those groups the membership of which depends upon the sweet will of the individuals. Their membership is not compulsory rather voluntary. Cricket Association is an example of voluntary group.

(iii) Delegate groups: – Delegated groups are those in which a man joins as a representative or a number of people elected rather by them or nominated by some authority. The Indian Parliament and the State Legislative Assembly are the bright examples of delegate groups.

2. Ferdinand Tonnies’ classification:


According to Ferdinand Tonnies, social groups are of two types such as: (i) Gemeinschaft or community and (ii) Gaselischaft or society.

(i) Gememschaft or community: – Gemeinschaft is that type of group whose relationship is characterised by close, intimate and personalities, mutual trust and co-operation. Family is an example of Gemeinschaft.

(ii) Gesetteschaft or society: – Geselleschaft is that group which is characterized by competition, self-interest, efficiency, progress and specialization of relationship. The bureaucratic corporation is the ideal example of gesellschaft.

3. F.H. Gidding’s classification:


F.H. Giddings classifies social groups into four types, namely: (i) Genetic group, (ii) Congregate group, (iii) Disjunctive group and (iv) Overlapping group.

(i) Genetic group: – Genetic group is the family in which a man is born involuntarily.

(ii) Congregate group: – Congregate group is the voluntary group into which an individual moves or in which he joins vountarily.

(iii) Disjunctive group: – A disjunctive group is one, which does not allow a person to be a member of other groups at the same time. A college or a nation is the bright example of disjunctive group.


(iv) Overlapping group:- An overlapping group is one whose members may belong to other groups at the same time, The Indian Sociological Association or All Orissa Sociological Association is an example of overlapping.

4. George Hassen’s classification:

According George Hassen, social groups are classified into four types such as (i) On-social group, (ii) Pseudo-social group, (iii) Anti-social group and (iv), Pro-social group.

(i) Un-social group: – Un-social group is one, which does not mix up with other groups and remains aloof from them.


(ii) Pseudo-social group: – A pseudo-social group is mat group, which participates, in the larger social life mainly for its own gain not for the gain of society.

(Hi) Anti-social group:- An anti-social group which acts against the interest of society. A group, of vagabonds that destroy public properly is an example of anti-social group. Similarly, a political party that plan to overthrow a popular government is an anti-social group.

(iv) Pro-social group:- A pro-social group is the opposite of anti-social group. It works for the larger interests of society. It does ail the constructive works for the welfare of society.

5. D. Miller’s classification:

D. Miller has classified social groups into two type’s namely (i) Horizontal group and (ii) Vertical group.

(i) Horizontal group: – A horizontal group consists mainly all members from one social class. A group of doctors, engineers, teachers, electricians, etc. is some of the examples of horizontal group.

(ii) Vertical group: – A vertical group is a larger group consisting of large number of people such as nation, religious organisations, caste groups, political parties and so on.

6. Charles A. Ellwood’s classification:

Social groups have been classified by Charles A. Elwood into four types such as (i) Voluntary group, (ii) In-voluntary group, (iii) Permanent group and (iv) Temporary group.

(i) Voluntary group: – A voluntary group is one in which a person joins according to his own wish. The membership of this group is not compulsory rather voluntary and one can withdraw one’s memberships at any time without any reason. The recreational club is an example of voluntary group.

(ii) Involuntary group: – An involuntary group is one, which is based on blood relationship such as, family, kinship, tribe, clan etc. The membership of this group is compulsory because man is born in it and also die in it.

(iii) Permanent group: – Permanent group is that type of group in which the relationship among the members continues for a longer period. The family is a permanent group. This group is more stable than the other groups.

(iv) Temporary group: – The temporary group is just the opposite of permanent group. In this group, the relationship among the members does not continue for a longer period. A mob or a crowd is a temporary group.

7. Park and Burgess’ classification:

Park and Burgess has classified social groups into two types such as : (i) Territorial group and (ii) Non-territorial group.

(i) Territorial group: – A territorial group is one, which has its own definite territory. The village, city-state, nation etc. are the examples of territorial group.

(ii) Non-territorial group: – A non-territorial group is one, which does not possess any territory of its own. A Trade Union or a Kissan Union is a non-territorial group.

8. Gillin and Giflin’s classification:

Lewis Gillin and Philip Gillin have classified social groups in the following types,

(i) On the basis of blood relationship.

(ii) On the basis of bodily characteristics.

(iii) On the basis of physical proximity.

(iv) On the basis of culturally derived interests.

9. C.H. Cooley’s classification:

According to C.H. Cooley, the famous American sociologists, there are two types of social groups. They are,

(1) Primary group whose relation is direct, intimate and personal.

(ii) Secondary group whose relation is indirect, less intimate, impersonal and formal.

10. W.G. Summer’s classification:

W.G. Summer, an eminent American sociologist, has classified social groups into two types in his book ‘Folkways’. These are:

(i) In-group to which individual belongs.

(ii) Out-group to which individual does not belong.


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