These are “in-groups”, because feel belong to them. There are other groups to which do not belong – other families, cliques, occupations, races, nationalities, religious, the other sex – These are “out-groups”, for an outside them.
Two Aspects of this Classification:
This classification hinges on two important factors: Firstly, an individual’s mental preparedness or readiness to identify himself with a group or a set of groups and to separate himself from the ‘other’ groups, Secondly, the classification depends on an attempt to identify the boundaries of groups which serve as “in-groups ” Ian Robertson too has pointed out “All groups, however, tend to maintain their boundaries by developing a strong sense of the distinction between the “we” of the group and the “they” who are outside the group.”
In group and out-group relationships are overlapping:
In the simple tribal societies ‘in – and out-group’ relationships are very simple and direct. All those who belong to the same class or totemic group, or kin group are identified as members of ‘in- groups’ and others out-sliders.
In modern society, people belong to so many groups that a number of their in-group and out- group relationships may overlap. For example, a person in the urban neigbourhood may consider all the people [who belong to different social classes, caste groups, religious groups, political groups, linguistic groups, etc.] living in his neighbourhood as members of his ‘in-group’ for some limited purposes.
When the question of his caste interest or linguistic interest or religious interest arises the same person may consider people who belong to his own caste or linguistic or religious group as members of his in-group and others are outsiders.
Relative Influence of In-groups and Out-groups:
In-group and out-group relations lead to some consequences. Members tend to regard their own group, the in-group, as being something special, more worthy, more intimate, helpful, and dependable and so on. On the contrary, an out-group to which other people belong is considered less worthy, less intimate, not dependable, and it may even be viewed with hostility.
Exclusion from an in-group can be a brutal process. Most primitive societies treated outsiders with hostility. The word ‘stranger’ meant for them nothing but “enemy” [Even the Nazis during Hilter’s regime treated Jews with utmost hostility and animosity],
In-groups and out-groups affect behaviour:
In-groups and out-groups are important because, they affect behaviour. From fellow members of an in-group we expect recognition, loyalty and helpfulness. From outsiders our expectation varies with the kind of out-group. We expect hostility from some out-groups, a more or less friendly competition from some others; from still a few others, total indifference.
As far as in groups are concerned, they draw the members together and increase the solidarity and cohesion of the group. In the presence of a common enemy, real or imaginary, in-group plays a vital role in uniting people against the common ‘danger’.
In-group and Out-groups and Social Distance:
People keep different social distances” between different in-groups and out-groups. People are not equally involved in all of their in-groups. One might, for example, be a rodent admirer of a political party and be a rather indifferent Rotarian. Nor do the people feel equally distant from all their out-groups. For example, member of the Bharathiya Janata Party will feel ideologically closer to the Congress (I) party than to the communists.
Sumner also stressed upon the fact that strong in-group solidarity and identity often lead to the development of ethnocentric attitudes. Strong sense of in-group loyalty may induce the members to judge other people’s behaviour from the standards of the in-group. Because of the ethnocentric attitude, “out-groups are often shown in stereotyped ways which emphasise their imperfections.”