The word “aggregate” is used in sociology to describe a group of people who do not have any informal or formal structural foundations. Large groups of individuals may behave as aggregates or as unorganized collectivities, but they can also function as groups with some degree of a collective objective. It refers to a group of individuals present in the exact location at the same moment but do not have similar interests and may not interact. In such a setting, individuals may not have similar characteristics to other members close to them. Physical proximity to one another is the only factor that connects such individuals.
Social aggregate and aggregate data
These are the two types of aggregates most often utilized in sociology. The first is just a group of individuals who just so happen to be there at the exact moment, while the second is the use of summary statistics like averages to illustrate a demographic or societal trend.
Communities and Groups vs. Aggregates
It is used to differentiate between unorganized groupings of people brought together by accident and collectivities like groups, which always possess an internal structure. The internal structure, coherence, cohesiveness, and relative permanence of groups and communities are all observable.
Any gathering of units or components, regardless of how fleeting or fortuitous, may be considered an aggregate; as a result, the distinction between simple aggregates without internal organization or a solid foundation for persistence may sometimes be made.
The phrase is also applied more generally to describe research or analysis, which only deals with aggregate data, that are statistics generated for large groups or categories like specific types of households or businesses, and in which the traits of individual participants are no longer distinguishable.
When sociologists conduct research using a convenience sample, social aggregates might sometimes come into play. They may also be found in sociologists’ participant observation or ethnographic studies. For instance, to offer a description of the social aggregate at that business, a researcher observing what occurs in a specific small environment may note the customers there and record their demographic composition by age, ethnicity, class, caste, gender, and so forth.
When a group of people lacks any organizational structure or enduring social links, we may say that group is an aggregate and refers to the audience or crowd as a whole.
One frequent example of a social aggregate is the spectators at a sports event or the audience at a play or movie.