Learn English – Describing a group consisting of groups of people


Is there a word/phrase to describe the charateristic of a group of people being composed of small and independent groups of people?

In Chinese, we would say that a group has a lot of "小團體", which literally means small group. That expression often means the group is divided and everyone only interacts with few people in the group. This happens very often in school and workplace and is usually considered a negative thing because it's hard for the whole group to work together.

How can express the same idea in English?

Edit: I think words like separated is too general, and saying that a group has a lot of subgroup doesn't convey that meaning.
Edit: For example, My college is (word/phrase) and everyone sticks to their friends when doing stuff.

Best Answer

The groups sound like cliques:

a ​small ​group of ​people who ​spend ​their ​time together and do not ​welcome other ​people into that ​group: Our ​golf ​club is ​run by a very ​unfriendly clique (of ​people). There's a clique at ​work that never ​talks/who never ​talk to anyone ​else. (-- Cambridge Dictinaries Online)

You can speak of a situation as being "cliquey", in other words a larger group beset by smaller cliques, with a negative effect.