Secondary group is a large group in which a large number of persons come into indirect contact with one another. Sometimes these groups are called, "Special Interest Groups"., City, nation, political party, trade union etc. are the bright examples of secondary groups.
Elbert W. Stewart defines, "Secondary groups are created for specific purposes and interested in their members mainly for their contributions to those purposes."
Characteristics of Secondary Group:
The important characteristics of secondary groups are as follows:
(1) Large size:
The size of the secondary group is large, because it is formed by a large number of people. Secondary groups have spread all over the country. For example, a political party which is a secondary group, consisting of thousands of members and work throughout the country.
(2) No physical proximity:
The members in a secondary group do not live in the same place at the same time. There are some secondary groups like the Red Cross Society and the Rotary Club which are international in character whose members are scattered over a vast area.
(3) The relationship is a means to an end:
Secondary groups are goal oriented. So the relationship in secondary group is considered not an end in itself but a means to an end. The members join secondary groups are the means to attain the ends or objectives.
(4) Voluntary membership:
The membership of a secondary group is not compulsory but voluntary. People may join secondary groups on their sweet will. For example, one may join a political party or may not join it.
(5) Indirect Relations:
In a secondary group all the members are indirectly related to each other, because secondary group is bigger in size. Contacts and communications in secondary groups are mostly indirect.
(6) Impersonal relations:
The relations among the members of secondary group is impersonal. The members do not have face-to-face relations. According to K. Davis, the relationship in secondary groups is 'the touch and go variety. For example - In a political party the members are scattered throughout the country,
(7) Formal rules:
Secondary groups are regulated by formal rules and regulations. A secondary group exercises control over its members through formal ways like, police, jail, court, army, law, act and various other formal means.
(8) Goal orientation:
The main purpose of a secondary group is fulfillment of a specific aim. The members are not interested in maintaining close and personal relations but they are only interested in achieving the aim for which they have joined the group.
(9) Status of individuals depend upon their roles:
In secondary group the position or status of every member depends upon his role. For example, the status of the president of a political party depends upon the role he plays in the party and not upon his birth. Every member in a secondary group, plays a role or a number of roles.