Secondary groups are just the opposite of the prima group. These groups are of special significance in modern Industrial societies. Secondary, group is a large group in which a large number of persons come into indirect contact with one another. Physical closeness, intimacy and personal relations are not desired in secondary group.
In other words secondary group may be defined as those associations, which are characterized, by indirect and impersonal or secondary relations and specialization of functions. The relations between the members of secondary groups are touch and go type indirect, less intimate, impersonal, formal, short and temporary. Secondary groups are very large in size. Sometimes these groups are called “Special-interest groups”. A city, a nation, a political party, a trade union, a corporation and the modem large-Scale organizations are the bright examples of secondary groups.
Definitions of Secondary Group:
Different sociologists have defined secondary group in many ways. Following are the important definitions of secondary group.
C.H. Cooley defines: “Secondary groups are wholly lacking in intimacy of association and usually in most of the other primary and quasi-primary characteristics”. .
Ogburn and Nimkoff define: “The groups which provide experience lacking in intimacy are called secondary groups”.
H.T. Mazumdar defines: “When face-to-face contacts are not present in the relations of members we have secondary groups”.
Characteristics of Secondary Group
The important characteristics of secondary groups are as follows:
1. Large size:
The first characteristic of secondary group is its large size. The size of secondary group is so 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 consisted of thousands of members and work through out the country.
2. Indirect relations:
Secondary groups are characterized by indirect relations. All members are indirectly related to each other because a secondary group is bigger in size than a primary group and the members contact and stay together. The specialization of functions leads to indirect relations in secondary groups.
3. Formal and impersonal relations:
Relation among the members of secondary groups are formal and impersonal. The members do not have face-to-face relation. People do not develop personal relations among themselves.
4. Voluntary membership:
The membership of secondary group is not compulsory but always voluntary. People may join secondary groups according to their sweet will. For instance, one may join a political party or may not join it. Similarly, one may or may not join a particular recreational club.
5. Formal rules:
Secondary groups are regulated by formal rules and regulations, a secondary group exercises control over its members through formal ways. The secondary relations are directly controlled by police, jail, army, court and various other formal means.
6. Status of Individual depends upon his role:
In secondary group, the position or status of every member depends upon his role. Every member in a secondary group plays a role or a number of roles. His status in the group is determined by his role. For example, the status of the president of political party depends upon personal qualities.
7. Individuality in persons:
Secondary groups are sometimes called special-interest groups. Individuality develops in the persons in secondary group because; their relations are based on self-interest, when their interests are satisfied they lose interest in the group. Thus, self-interest leads the members to develop their individuality in secondary group.
8. Active and inactive members:
A secondary group is very large in size. Physical closeness and intimacy are totally absent among its members. Owing to this reason, some members of the group become active and some others are quite inactive.
9. Self-dependence among the members:
The members of secondary group are self-dependent. They want or desire to fulfill their self-interests. For this purpose, the members of a secondary group depend upon themselves in order to safe-guard their own interests.
10. Goal Orientation:
Lastly, the main purpose of a secondary group is to fulfill a specific aim. That means each secondary group is formed to achieve a specific goal.