Different sociologists have classified groups in different ways. While some thinkers have given a simple classification, other has given an elaborate classificatory scheme. However, on the basis of the accumulated work of sociologists, we may classify the following ten dichotomous groups and grouping from as many angles as possible.

1) Primary group and secondary group.

2) In-group and out-group.

3) Community and Association.


4) Permanent group and transitory group.

5) Vertical group and Horizontal group.

6) Formal group and Informal group.

7) Contractual group and Non-contractual group.


8) Voluntary group and involuntary group.

9) Homogeneous group and Heterogeneous group.

10) Institutional group and Non-Institutional group.

1) Primary group and secondary group:


American sociological theory has generally followed the dichotomy of primary and secondary groups on the basis of distinction drawn by C.H.Cooley. In a primary group, there is a face-to-face and intimate relationship. It refers to small groups like the family, the play group, the neighborhood and the like.

The secondary group may be defined as a kind of associations which is characterised by indirect, impersonal or secondary relations. The trade union, the business corporation, the political party, and the state are examples of secondary groups.

2) In-groups and Out-groups:

William Graham Summer made destination between an in group and out-group. It is characterized by the expressions “we belong” “we believe”, “we feel”, “we act”. We identify ourselves with our own group’s family or tribe or college or occupation by virtue of our awareness or likeness or “consciousness of kind”,


The out-group is an association of persons towards which we feel a sense of in difference, avoidance, dislike or competition. The out group is thus opposite of the “in group”. Towards in-group a man has “we are feeling” but towards on out-group have feeling of they.

3) Community and Association:

Ferdinand Tonnies classified groups into community (Gemeinschaft) and Association (Gesellschaft). In community individuals are involved in the process of interaction as ‘persons’. The family, kin-groups, the neighborhood, the rural village, the friends groups represent the community. In such groups, intimate, friendly and personal relations are found among the members.

Association is defined as “public life”, as something, which is consciously and deliberately entered upon. Business corporation, towns, cities are examples of the association. Members look to the group for the satisfaction of the specific interests.


4) Permanent and Transitory groups:

The distinction between permanent and transitory groups is based on the extent of the permanence of relationship of members. If the relationship among members continues for a longer period, the group is relatively permanent. Family, nation and castes are permanent groups.

But, if the relationships among the members do not last for a longer period, the group is known as transitory group. Crowds, mobs are transitory groups.

5) Vertical and Horizontal groups:


D. Miller divided groups into Vertical and Horizontal groups. The vertical groups are large, inclusive groups such as nations, religious organisations and political parties.

The Horizontal groups are small divisions consisting mainly, of members from; social class, a group of doctors, teachers and engineers are some of the examples of horizontal group.

6) Formal and Informal groups:

A formal groups consists of a number of persons working together for the attain of a given goal. It functions according to a set of rules under the authority of a set of off It has a definite structure. A bureaucratic group is an example of the formal group.

An Informal group consists of a number of persons working together to achieve common goal. There is no set of formal rules and regulations in it. It has no definite structure Crowd is an example of informal group.

7) Contractual and Non-Contractual groups:

The contractual group arises out of a contract. Here, the powers and responsibility the members as well as of the group are clearly defined. A trade union, a business corporal are examples of contractual groups. But, non-contractual groups do not rest upon contract. The family, village are examples of non-contractual groups.

8) Voluntary and In-Voluntary groups:

A voluntary group is one which a man joins according to his own wish. He withdraws his membership at any time of his own sweet will. Political parties, Youth associate are examples of voluntary groups.

An involuntary group is based on kinship such as the family. The membership of the groups is compulsory. A man has no choice to what family he will belong.

9) Homogeneous and Heterogeneous group:

The student community is a heterogeneous group, because students come from differ age, sex, family, intellectual attainment and social back ground. The Indian nation is a medley of heterogeneous group, when viewed from the standpoint of national or racial origins religious pursuits. But culturally, India is a homogeneous entity.

10) Institutional and Non-institutional groups:

The institutional groups are those which function through rituals, officers, codes conduct and regulatory power including the power to punish. The state is an institution group. But a public or a mob is a non-institutional group.