Differences between Primary Social Group and Secondary Social Group!
A primary group is small in size as well as area. The membership is limited to a small number and usually confined to defined area.
It is not spread over the whole world, i.e., in family, play-group, study-group. Membership is confined within small limits. At the other end, in a secondary group the membership is widespread. It may contain thousands of members scattered in different parts of the world as is the case with a corporation.
(ii) Kind of Co-operation:
In a secondary group the cooperation with the fellow-members is indirect. It is formed more or less deliberately and in terms of common interests in the achievement of some recognized goal. The members cooperate only to achieve the group’s objective. It is not the process that binds them together but the object to whose attainment they unite.
They do not work together but one works for the other; they do assigned tasks toward a common object. Individuals are selected to act on behalf of the whole, a hierarchy of officials arises and the executive becomes distinct from the members. In a primary group, on the other hand, the members directly co-operate with each other participating in the same process. They sit together, discuss together, play together, decide together.
(iii) Types of Structure:
Every secondary group is regulated by a set of formal rules. A formal authority is set up with designated powers and a clear cut division of labour in which the function of each is specified in relation to the function of all, the rest follows. In a word, the organization of a secondary group is carefully worked out.
The primary group is based on an informal structure. The members, as told above, participate in the same process. There is spontaneous adjustment in the working of the group. No formal and detailed rules are drafted. The structure is simple.
The relationship of members with each other in a primary group is direct, intimate and personal. There is congeniality among the members. They meet face to face and develop direct contacts. The primary group is concerned with the total personality of a person. The relations are inclusive.
A secondary group is regulated by formal rules which mean a substitution of impersonal for personal relationships. The relations now become secondary and formal. It does not exercise a primary influence over its members because they do not live in the presence and thought of one another.
They need not meet face to face and may communicate with each other by indirect means. They perform their jobs, carry out the orders, pay their dues and contribute to the group interest, still may never see each other. The members of national political party pay their annual subscriptions, carry out the orders of the High Command, work for the party interest, but hardly establish personal and direct relationships with each other.
The average member plays a passive role and often comes to feel that the party lies beyond the area of his control. Paul Landis called secondary groups the representative of the “cold world”. Primary groups are relationship-directed whereas secondary groups are goal-oriented. In fact, the warmth of the relations in primary groups cannot be found in the secondary groups. The relations in the secondary group are of ‘touch and go’ type.
Some thinkers are of the opinion that classification of groups into primary and secondary is not very satisfactory. No group can be classified as wholly primary or wholly secondary. Even a large scale group cannot work without a certain identification of its members with the organisation as a whole. Instead of classifying the groups into primary and secondary it is easier to classify contacts.
The main difference between primary and secondary groups is not one of size or structure but of relationship. If a nation is called a secondary group, it is so called because its members do not have close, personal and warm relations. It is devoid of personal inter-action; its members express the body of oneness through impersonal and indirect methods. Even if the members of a secondary group meet face-to-face it is of the touch and go variety.