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Primary and secondary groups

Primary and secondary groups shape our social interactions. Primary groups, like family and close friends, offer intimacy and shared identity. Secondary groups, such as work partners or distant relatives, are more formal and goal-oriented. Understanding these groups helps us navigate our social world. Created by James Howick.

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Video transcript

- [Voiceover] Each of us belongs to several types of groups. Some groups provide intimacy and close relationships, while others do not. And two main types of groups are called primary and secondary groups. But first, let's look at primary groups. An example that helped me understand primary groups is a wedding. And as we can see, there's a bride and a groom here. And think about who gets asked to be a bridesmaid or a groomsman. It's usually the bride and groom's closet friends or their really close family members. And that's an example of primary group because in primary groups there's a sense of belonging and a shared identity. And group members care about you and you would care about other members of the group as well. And you have this sense of loyalty to each other. And belonging to the group is the whole value of the friendship in itself. You're not in it to gain any sort of goal or anything like that. So individuals in primary groups, they provide sort of an anchor point, and you were born into a primary group, your family. And you meet with members of your primary groups face to face and you know a lot about their lives. And these close relationships are often seen as a source of close human feelings and emotions such as love, cooperation, and concern. Now, another type of group is called secondary groups. And secondary groups are those with formal, impersonal, and business-like relationships, and they're often temporary. And they, on the other hand, are based on a specific limited purpose or goal. So these relationships are usually short-term as we said, and you would only do a few goal-directed activities with these people in your secondary groups like maybe attending a lunch meeting to talk business. So people in secondary groups often see them as a means to an end, meaning that they're only part of the group to accomplish a task or to earn money, for example. So let's say that this wedding is over now, and let's head to the reception to look at some of the different primary and secondary groups. So the bride and groom are gonna sit with their bridal party as we said, and these are the close friends that they have known for a very long time and close family. So let's say the groom played football in college and a lot of his teammates are attending the wedding. So they sit close to him as well because they are in his primary group. They put countless amounts of hours in practicing with each other, and they really grew up and learned how to live on their own in college. So they're an example of one of his primary groups. Sitting together in the primary group, we may also have the bride and groom's immediate family like their brothers and sisters or their moms and dads. So let's say the bride grew up in a really great neighborhood and was friends with everyone on her street. Everyone grew up together and hung out on the weekends, and they often would take trips to the beach and have cookouts as a neighborhood, as a community. So this is an example of her primary group. So you can say that all these people, the neighborhood friends, the close family, the teammates, these are examples of primary groups within the bride and groom's life. But as we make our way around the reception, we can see that there are many different secondary groups as well. Over here, the bride and groom's parents may have invited some of their important work partners and over here there is some distant family that is only seen once or twice a year or at big family gatherings. And then let's say over here there's some acquaintances. They aren't close friends, but they're well-connected so maybe they could help the bride and groom in the future so they invite them to the wedding. So these secondary groups are more formal and goal-oriented. So looking around this wedding reception, there are a lot of guests who are there to keep strong relationships in case they are needed in the future to make money or maybe even the distant family members are also there to keep everyone happy and to avoid family drama and hurting anyone's feelings. So these are all examples of the bride and groom's secondary groups. They aren't close relationships. They're more informal. So we'll just put an S for secondary. So the big takeaway from this video is that primary groups are close, intimate, long-term relationships and that secondary groups are short-term and often goal-oriented relationships.