Co-Operation in Social Process: Meaning, Types and Role!
Meaning of Co-operation:
Co-operation is the most pervasive and continuous of the social processes. It is an integrating activity and is believed to be the opposite of competition. In reality, however, it is conflict rather than completion which is the opposite of co-operation. Co-operation generally means working together in the pursuit of like or common interest.
Green defines cooperation as “the continuous and common Endeavour of two or more persons to perform a task or to reach a goal that is commonly cherished.” In the words of Merrill and Eldredge, “Cooperation is a form of social interaction wherein two or more persons work together to gain a common end.”
Fairchild writes, “Cooperation is the process by which individuals or groups combine their effort, in a more or less organised way for the attainment of common objective.” The word ‘co-operation’ is derived from two Latin words, ‘Co’ meaning together and ‘operari’ meaning to work. It is thus joint activity in pursuit of common goals or shared rewards. It is goal oriented and conscious form of social interaction. It involves two elements (i) common end, and (ii) organised effort.
Cooley says, “Co-operation arises when men see that they have a common interest and have, at the same time, sufficient intelligence and self-control to seek this interest through united action: perceived unity of interest and faculty of organization are the essential facts in intelligent combination.”
Co-operation, it may be noted, imposes restraints on the participant. The self cannot have its way entirely if it is working co-operatively with another self. Co-operation always implies inhibition of certain ego-centred drives. From the restraint so imposed there arises a moral control which is lacking in uninhibited conflict.
Co-operation is brought about by several circumstances which are (i) desire for individual benefits, (ii) desire to give, (iii) devotion to common purposes, (iv) situational necessity, and (v) desire to achieve larger goals.
Types of Co-operation:
There are many modes of co-operation in social life but its principal types are the following:
(i) Direct Co-operation:
Under this category are included those activities in which co-operating individuals do like things together, that is, perform identical functions like moving a pile of stones or pushing a motor car out of the mud. Playing together, worshipping together, tilling the fields together are other instances of direct co-operation.
The essential character of this kind of co-operation is that people do in company the thing which they can also do separately.
They do them together either because the face to face situation is itself a stimulus to the performance of the task or because it brings them social satisfaction.
(ii) Indirect Co-operation:
Under this category are included those activities in which people do unlike tasks toward a similar end. In other words, in this type of co-operation individual’s work towards a common end but each has his own specialised functions too as is the case, for example, when carpenters, plumbers and masons co-operate to build a house.
This co-operation is based on the famous principle of the division of labour. In the modern society it is the indirect co-operation which is more in play than the direct co-operation because the present technological age requires specialisation of skills and functions.
(iii) Primary Co-operation:
It is the co-operation which is found in primary groups such as the family. In this form of co-operation, there is an identity of interests between the individual and the group. The achievement of the interest of the group includes the realisation of the individual’s interests.
(iv) Secondary Co-operation:
This type of cooperation is found in the secondary groups such as government, industry, church and trade union etc.
(v) Tertiary Co-operation:
This co-operation is found in the interaction between the various big and small groups to meet a particular situation. Thus, when Russia and America join together to defeat China in a war, or when a National Front is formed by different political parties to win the poll against the Congress party it is tertiary co-operation. In such a type of co-operation the attitudes of the co-operation parties are purely opportunistic; the organization of their co-operation is both loose and fragile.
It is often said that the individual of modern industrialised society increasingly separated from face to face Co-operation tends to become highly individualized and even develops neurotic characteristics. According to the psycho-analysts, the impersonal and competitive features of our society are significantly related to personality disturbances of various types.
Role of Co-operation:
Co-operation is a universal phenomenon. It is so important in the life of an individual that according to Kropotkin, it is difficult to survive without it. Mutual aid starts with co-operation in rearing of progeny and in the provision of protection and of food. Even among the lowest animals such as the ants and termites co-operation is evident for survival. Among higher animals also co-operation is apparent.
Co-operation for human beings is both a psychological and social necessity. People learn their first lessons in co-operation as members of the family. Most of the individual and collective goals cannot be achieved without co- operation.
It is needed at every step in our life. If one does not co-operate with others, he is left to live a solitary life, tired of which he is obliged to learn to co-operate with others. The physical, mental and even the spiritual needs of the individual remain unsatisfied if he does not agree to co-operate with his fellow-members.
All the progress that mankind has made in the various fields is to be attributed to the co-operating spirit of the people. The astounding achievements of science and technology, the initial success of man in his flight to the Moon, the attempt to bridge the gulf between the standards of living of the highly developed and the most undeveloped countries, all are the results of human cooperation.
So great is the realisation of the necessity of cooperation on the part of every nation in the solution of international problems that they are sparing no pains to secure it even at the risk of sacrificing some of their cherished convictions.