For the clear understanding of primary groups, it is necessary to understand its characteristic. According to Professor K. Davis some of these characteristics are internal while some of them are external.
1) Physical proximity:
Physical proximity or nearness is very much essential for the formation of primary groups. It is true that intimate relations arise when people are in close contact with each other. Face-to-face relations provide such contact. It is not possible to exchange thoughts and
Ideas and to help each other if the members are not physically close. Seeing and talking with each other facilitates the exchange of ideas and opinions.
2) Small Size:
The size of the primary group is very small. When the group in small the members can know one another personally and personal relations can arise. The small size of the groups leads the members to develop a better understanding among them. The smaller the size of the family, for example, the greater the intimacy among the members. Intimacy declines when the number of persons increased. If the audience is large, everybody cannot see the speaker and also can not listen to him clearly.
3) Durability of the Relationship:
Intimacy among the members becomes deeper because they meet frequently and! Exchange their thoughts with each other. To promote closeness, the primary group should be stable to some extent.
Internal Characteristics of primary group are those which relate the inner relations of the members. It is due to the external characteristics, which gradually these internal characteristics also develop. Main internal characteristics are as follows:-
1) Identity of Ends:
Members of the primary groups have similar desires and attitude. They work together for the attainment of their common goal without conflict. Every member tries to promote the common welfare of the group. In primary group like family etc., every member’s pleasure an ‘ pain is shared by the whole family group, and all the members work for the some common aims, The interest of one individual member are the same as the interests of the other member of the group. In this connection, Davis points out that child’s needs become the mother’s ends.
2) The Relationship is an end in itself:
The primary relationship is not regarded as a means to an end, but rather as an end in itself. It is not based on any selfish motive. If a friendship is formed for some specific purpose, we do not regard it as a genuine friendship. The basis of genuine friendship is pleasure; Family relations are of this nature.
3) The Relationship is personal:
In the primary group, the relations among the members are personal. Maclver says that, “In the primary group life our relations with others are always, to some extent personal. Here we feel sympathy or antipathy, we often love and hate”. The relationship disappears if the particular person disappears from primary group. This relationship is not transferable and this is why the gap of one member’s absence is not filled completely by the other. For example, after the death of wife, a person may marry again, but the memory of the first wife does not end with it. The relations between a husband and his wife, a man and his friend are personal in nature.
4) The Relationship is inclusive:
The individuals in a personal relationship is not an abstraction, Individuals are treated as complete human beings. Ina primary group, a person comes to know his fellow in all the details of his life, as a whole being.
5) The Relationship is spontaneous:
A primary relationship is voluntary. It is not based on contract. There is nothing like compulsion or pressure between them. Relationship between members develops naturally and spontaneously. The relationship between the mother and the child husband and wife, friend and a friend develop spontaneously.
6) Maximum Control over the members:
Due to the intimacy, physical closeness, spontaneity and the small size, all the members of a primary group know each other very well. It is not possible to conceal the affairs of any member from the other. The group exercises maximum control over its members.