Cooperation is an associative and basic process of social life. Society cannot exist without this. It is the very basis of social existence. It is one of the continuous social processes. The term 'Co-operation' is derived from the two Latin words 'Co' meaning together and 'Operari' meaning to work. Literally, Cooperation means 'joint work' or 'working' together' for a common goal'.
Merrill and Hdredge says, 'Co-operation is a form of social interaction wherein two or more persons work together to gain a common end.'
According to Fairchild "Co-operation is the process by which the individuals or groups combine their effort, in a more or less organized way for the attainment of common 'objective'.
From the above definitions, two characteristics of co-operation become clear. They are:
1. Organised effort.
2. Common end
There are difference of opinion among the sociologists regarding the types of co-operation. Mac Iver and Page speak of two types of co-operation. They are -
1. Direct co-operation.
2. Indirect co-operation.
1. Direct Co-operation:
Direct co-operation implies direct relationship among the individuals. In this type of co-operation, people do like things together. In other words, when people directly co-operate with each other for the achievement of a common goal it is called direct co-operation. Playing together, working together, worshiping together, ploughing the field together, traveling together and so on are some of the examples of direct co-operation.
2. Indirect Co-operation:
Indirect co-operation is just, the opposite of direct co-operation. In indirect co-operation people do different tasks towards a similar end. In other words, in this type of co-operation people work individually for the attainment of a common goal and this is based on the principle of division of labor and specialization of functions. For example, in a college the principal, lecturers, office assistants, accountant, typist, librarian and dispatcher perform different functions but they make co-operative effort towards a common goal.
A.W. Green has divided co-operation into three types such as
1. Primary, Co-operation.
2. Secondary Co-operation.
3. Tertiary Co-operation.
1. Primary Co-operation:
Primary co-operation is generally found in the primary group, children's play group and so on. Primary co-operation is that type of co-operation in which there is no selfish interest. Every member works for the betterment of all. Thus primary relation leads to primary co-operation,
2. Secondary Co-operation:
Secondary co-operation is that type of co-operation in which an individual co-operates with others for the achievement of some selfish interests. Secondary cooperation is the characteristic of modern industrial society, which is mostly found in secondary groups such as social, economic, religious and political group where work is based on division of labor and specialization of functions. Secondary co-operation does not provide equal benefit to all the members. Each may work in co-operation with others for his own status, power and prestige.
3. Tertiary Co-operation:
In tertiary co-operation, different groups make mutual adjustment with each other under certain compelling circumstances. Tertiary co-operation is purely voluntary in nature. People or groups co-operate with each other according to their sweet will. The attitudes of the co-operating parties or groups in the field of tertiary co-operation are very opportunistic and selfish. For instance, when two political parties of different ideologies are co-operative together to defeat their rival party in an election, it is known as tertiary co-operation.
4. Role of Co-operation
Co-operation is so important in human life that it is difficult for man to survive without it. Cooperation is the foundation on which our social life is built up. Without active co-operation of fellow beings, a man cannot lead a happy and comfortable life. In a family without active co-operation of wife, a man cannot lead a happy conjugal life; Man cannot fulfill his basic needs like food, clothing and shelter without co-operation. Progress in science, technology, art, literature depends upon cooperation. Co-operation brings all round development of individual as well as of society. Without this, the very existence of human society is impossible.