What is a Group?
The preceding introduction illustrates theimportance of groups in our lives. Onequestion that comes to mind is: “How aregroups (e.g., your family, class, and thegroup with which you play) different fromother collections of people?” For example,people who have assembled to watch a cricket match or your school function areat one place, but are not interdependent on each other. They do not have definedroles, status and expectations from eachother. In the case of your family, class, andthe group with which you play, you will realise that there is mutualinterdependence, each member has roles,there are status differentials, and there areexpectations from each other. Thus, your
Think about your day-to-day life and the various social interactions you have. In the morning, before going to school, you interact with your family members; in school, you discuss topics and issues with your teachers and classmates; and after school you phone up, visit or play with your friends.In each of these instances, you are part of a group which not only provides you the needed support and comfort but also facilitates your growth and development as an individual. Have you ever been away to a place where you were without your family, school, and friends? How did you feel? Did you feel there was something vital missing in your life? Our lives are influenced by the nature of group membership we have. It is, therefore, important to be part of groups which would influence us positively and help us in becoming good citizens. In this chapter, we shall try to understand what groups are and how they influence our behaviour. At this point, it is also important to acknowledge that not only do others influence us, but we, as individuals, are also capable of changing others and the society. The benefits of cooperation and competition and how they influence our personal and social lives will also be examined. We will also see how identity develops — how we come to know ourselves. Similarly,we would try to understand why sometimes group conflicts arise; examine the perils of group conflict and apprise ourselves of various conflict resolution strategies so that we are able to contribute towards making a harmonious and cohesive society.
family, class and playgroup are examplesof groups and are different from other collections of people.
A group may be defined as an organised system of two or more individuals, who are interacting and interdependent, who have common motives, have a set of role relationships among its members, and have norms that regulate the behaviour of its members.
Groups have the following salient characteristics :•A social unit consisting of two or moreindividuals who perceive themselvesas belonging to the group. Thischaracteristic of the group helps indistinguishing one group from theother and gives the group its uniqueidentity.•A collection of individuals who havecommon motives and goals. Groups