Secondary Groups

definition of secondary group in sociology

Definition / June 15, 2017

The people within their contact second to the primary group form secondary group no matter whatever the type of relationship is there. Sometimes they are also special interest group. The intimacy within the group is relatively lower than that in primary. The relations of teacher and student, buyer and seller, voter and candidate, are secondary. The frequency, duration, intensity and focus in interaction may be there but their degree being lower than the one in primary group. The group is second in importance of life to the participants. He is first affected by the primary members and later by those in the secondary.


Ogburn & Nimkoff: "groups which provide experience lacking in intimacy can be called secondary group."

Frank D. Watson: "the secondary group is larger and more formal, is specialized and direct in its contact and relies more for unity and continuance upon the stability of its social-organization than does the primary group."

Characteristics of Secondary Group

  1. Large in size: Its members are relatively larger in size than the primary one. They can be thousands and hundreds of thousands of members.
  2. Less physical proximity: their physical proximity is rarely found and most of the members reside quite way from each other.
  3. Impersonal or secondary relation: Its basic elements are indirect, impersonal contractual as well as non-inclusive relations. Usually, they come close to each other for achieving common interests.
  4. Membership: Membership in this case is mainly voluntary. Individuals are free to join or avoid it. There is no emotional bondage on the members.
  5. Specific ends or interests: Members of the secondary groups are interested just because they have specific ends to aim at. That's why, it is also called special interest group.
  6. Indirect communication: contacts and communication in the case of secondary group are mostly indirect. Telephone, internet, post and telegraph are the mains sources of it.
  7. Social control: Here means of social control are usually formal. Laws and other regulations are enforced on the members by the authorities. The degree of relationship among members is not very strong here. This group is second in importance.

Example of Secondary Groups in Sociology

Members of the same profession, mohallah fellows, residents of the same village, class fellows, playmates, relatives, members of the same political party, people offering prayers in the masjid in congregation are secondary group members.

Importance of Secondary Groups

It is an important fact that group have substantial impact on members whether the members of primary or secondary. Secondary groups are more organized and tend to accomplish its members' aims and objectives, thus have more influence on its members. In the early ages primary groups were so important due to small and agriculture based society. But in the age of industrialization and Information technology members of society prefer secondary groups. The individual man of the society cannot escape for its dominancy and must rely on, to fulfill his needs of the day.

  1. These are efficient in fullfilling their own and their members aims and goals.
  2. These provide better opportunities to boost in in the field of education, business, communication etc.
  3. Wider outlook means these are large size and its members are spread all over because it accommodate variety of individuals.