Like primary group, secondary group is of special significance in modern society, and of which the large scale organisation is the most outstanding example. A secondary group is one which is large in size, such as, city, nation, political party, labour union etc. In this the relation of the members is limited in scope and exerts only indirect influence over the other. In this group co-operation among the members is indirect and very seldom comes face-to-face with them.
Ogbum and Nimkoff say that the “group which provides experience lacking in intimacy” can be called secondary group. Frank D. Watson defines secondary group as “a large and more formal, specialised and direct in its contacts and relies more for unity and continuance upon the stability of its social organization than does the primary group”.
H.T. Mazumdar says: “When face-to-face contacts are not present in the relation of members we have secondary group.”
Importance of Secondary Group:
The primary groups have an important place in a simple and small society but in modern society the trend is towards secondary groups. The small community has given way to large communities. Population has moved from village to city. The cottage industries are replaced by giant corporations. Man now depends more on secondary group for his needs. Most of the needs which were previously satisfied in the village is now satisfied in the cities. Not only the members but the variety of secondary groups are increasing. The importance of the secondary groups are as follows:
(1) Channels of opportunity:
The secondary groups have opened channels of opportunity. They provide a greater chance to develop individual talents. In earlier times there were only a handful of pursuits like agriculture and small trades. But now-a-days there are thousands of occupations which open the way for specialized careers.
A secondary group is marked by clear cut division of labour. There are sets up rules to regulate it. A formal authority is set up with the responsibility of managing the organisation efficiently. The great advances in material comfort would be impossible without the rise of goal-directed secondary organizations.
(3) Wider outlook:
A secondary group broadens the outlook of its members. In a primary group the outlook of its members gets narrowed because they think of their limited interests. But a secondary group has to accommodate a large number of individuals which widens the outlook of its members.
(4) Control over our life:
Today, our life to a great extent is controlled by secondary group. It becomes a necessity for the labourer to join the other to protect his rights and fulfill his interests. The secondary groups have entered almost all the parts of our life-political, economic, commercial, educational, religious etc.
Through the modem society the secondary group has overshadowed the primary group. Men have started showing their loyalties towards their larger groups. The spirit of sacrifice, love, co-operation etc. which are considered as the best qualities of primary group are now found in the secondary group. Man cannot function well so far as he belongs to a small group of people.