Social dynamics & social groups Social dynamics (or sociodynamics) can refer to the behavior of groups that results from the interactions of individual group members as well to the study of the relationship between individual interactions and group level behaviors. The field of social dynamics brings together ideas from Economics, Sociology, Social Psychology, and other disciplines, and is a sub-field of complex adaptive systems or complexity science. The fundamental assumption of the field is that individuals are influenced by one another's behavior. A social group can be defined as two or more people who interact with one another, share similar characteristics, and collectively have a sense of unity. Other theorists disagree however, and are wary of definitions which stress the importance of interdependence or objective similarity. Instead, researchers within the social identity tradition generally define it as "a group is defined in terms of those who identify themselves as members of the group". Regardless, social groups come in a myriad of sizes and varieties. For example, a society can be viewed as a large social group. Primary group vs secondary group Primary groups are small and characterized by close, personal, and intimate relationships that last a long time, maybe a lifetime. These relationships are deeply personal and loaded with emotion. The members typically include family, childhood friends, romantic partners, and members of religious groups who have regular face-to-face or verbal interaction and a shared culture and frequently engage in activities together. Secondary groups comprise relatively impersonal and temporary relationships that are goal- or task-oriented and are often found in employment or educational settings. While the relationships within primary groups are intimate, personal, and enduring, the relationships within secondary groups are organized around narrow ranges of practical interests or goals without which these groups would not exist. Secondary groups are functional groups created to carry out a task or achieve a goal. In-group vs out-group Social Categorization is the process of classifying people into groups based on similar characteristics: nationality, age, occupation, race etc. Such categorizing is a mental shortcut that allows us to infer properties about a person based on the properties of others in the same category (although these inferences may be incorrect). Within such categorization people find comfort and meaning in the groups they place themselves in. An ingroup is a group to which a person identifies as being a member. An outgroup is a social group with which an individual does not identify. Reference groups A reference group is a group to which an individual or another group is compared. Ie: Demographic Sociologists call any group that individuals use as a standard for evaluating themselves and their own behavior a reference group. Reference groups are used in order to evaluate and determine the nature of a given individual or other group's characteristics and sociological attributes. It is the group to which the individual relates or aspires to relate himself or herself psychologically. It becomes the individual's frame of reference and source for ordering his or her experiences, perceptions, cognition, and ideas of self. It is important for determining a person's self-identity, attitudes, and social ties. It becomes the basis of reference in making comparisons or contrasts and in evaluating one's appearance and performance. Network A social network is a social structure made up of a set of social actors (such as individuals or organizations), sets of dyadic ties, and other social interactions between actors. The social network perspective provides a set of methods for analyzing the structure of whole social entities as well as a variety of theories explaining the patterns observed in these structures. The study of these structures uses social network analysis to identify local and global patterns, locate influential entities, and examine network dynamics.