Importance of Primary Group for the Society!
Primary groups are important not only from the individual’s point of view, they are equally important from the view point of society. The primary group is the birth place of human nature. Primary groups help in the socialisation of the individuals and maintain social control over them. They teach the members to work in the society according to their rules.
They are the nuclear cells of social organisation. It is from these groups that the individual acquires basic attitudes towards people, social institutions and the world around him. The attitudes of kindness, sympathy, love, tolerance, mutual help and sacrifice which provide the cementing force to social structure are developed in the primary groups. Their disintegration soon leads to social disintegration.
Primary Group Decisions:
An important question which arises about primary group is ‘How does a group achieve consensus of opinion and how are the differences appearing among its members harmonised? How does the experience become our experience from mine or yours’?
Looking at the facts we find that any of the four following methods may be used to reach an agreement in a group:
In a group some authority like the president or the patriarch in the family may pronounce a decision and the members are asked to abide by it. In such a case there is little group participation. The members merely acquiesce or assent to the decision coming from the dominant authority.
The faculties of the members do not find any scope for their free expression. Their contributions to the group decision are suppressed. This mode of group decision is practised in small military units or disciplined revolutionary party cell and also in the boss ruled gang or the patriarchal families.
Sometimes the agreement in a group may be reached through compromise. The contending members agree to yield some of their claims or waive their opinions in order to reach a unanimous decision. The process here is that of bargaining, of give and take. The members get something for giving up something.
This method differs from the preceding method inasmuch as here the differences of the members do affect the decision, while under the preceding method the decision came from the dominant authority involving no more than the acquiescence of the other members. Compromise formula is quite common.
The students come into compromise with the Principal on the examination issue. They first boycott the examination but later on agree to appear in it provided none is detained. Many of the decisions of legislative committees are in the form of ‘compromise bills’; similarly are the decisions of the United Nations Security Council. Compromise is also frequently found in the group agreements reached by democratic families, clubs and many other primary groups.
Decision may be taken in a group through the mode of voting. The members vote on a particular issue and the majority decision carries the day. It is determination by majority. The minority members remain in opposition but to save the group from breaking up may show their willingness to abide by the result of polls. If they are not willing to abide, the group runs the risk of being split up. This method commonly prevails in modern democratic political groups.
The above methods of group decision do not produce a complete harmony within the group. The first method seeks to impose a decision upon the members the second produces a formal unanimous decision through compromise while under the third method decision is reached by the majority leaving the differences of members in stark opposition. None of these methods reveals the group as a unity with one mind and will.
To get a unity in the group the differences of the members are neither to be suppressed nor compromised but synthesized and harmonised. An attempt should be made whereby the different viewpoints of the group members are harmonized in a kind of composite idea as though the minds of several members become one mind with one idea.
Integration of different opinions into a composite idea through the free admission of difference should be regarded as an ideal. Though this ideal may be difficult to attain, yet its acceptance would create a new harmony of society and a new joy of living together.
The Secondary Group:
Meaning of a Secondary Group:
We now turn to the secondary group, which 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 a City, nation, political party, corporation, international cartel and labour union. Here human contacts become superficial and undefined.
The relations of the members are limited in scope and arrived at by much trial and error and in terms of self-interest calculations of the members. A member exerts only indirect influence over the other.
He knows personally only a very few of the other members and functions as one among almost countless members. His cooperation with his fellow workers is indirect and very seldom comes face-to-face with them. He communicates with them by such indirect means as the written word.
Some of the definitions of secondary group are as follows:
(i) “Secondary groups are those that are relatively casual and impersonal in their relationships….. Relationships in them are usually competitive rather than mutually helpful.” —P.H. Landis
(ii) “The groups which provide experience lacking in intimacy are called secondary groups”. —Ogburn
(iii) “Secondary groups can be roughly defined as the opposite of everything already said about primary groups.” —Davis
(iv) “When face-to-face contacts are not present in the relations of members, we have secondary group.” -Mazumdar, H.T.