Under primary group we understand a small social group, members of which share personal and close relations with each other. Secondary group is usually a social group member of which do not have so close personal relations as in the primary one (Marshall, 1998). Emotional ties in the secondary groups are not as strong as in primary ones. Secondary and primary groups have opposing characteristics.
Primary groups usually have personal orientation while secondary groups are mainly goal-oriented. Relations last long in primary groups while in secondary groups duration of relations may vary and generally these relations last less than in primary groups.
Activities are also different in primary and secondary groups. In primary groups the scope of activities is broad.
Member of one primary group may be involved in many activities. The situation is different for the secondary groups. In secondary groups activities are usually narrow. They are limited by the goal of each secondary group. The meaning of relations inside primary and secondary groups is also different. In primary groups relations themselves make the main value for the members of the group. For example, family relations are valuable themselves, they do not serve for special goals. In secondary groups relations of the members serve to reach some definite goals. For example, the member of one working organization work together and their goal is to serve to this organization and to earn money (Rothwell, 2004). Primary groups exist in our life since birth. Some primary groups, such as family, for example, we are not able to choose. Primary group becomes the first experience of socialization for the new-born child. He or she gets first experience of relations from the first primary group he or she is born in. Later a child enters larger group but does not loose connections with primary groups. Family is a typical example of primary group. Relations in the family are very close and involve many aspects. The members of this group perform different kinds of activities together. These relations are valuable themselves without any other specific goals. Close friendship and romantic relations also belong to primary groups. The members of primary groups have very strong connections.
People from our primary groups have important influence on our life and these relations always influence us during our lives. We are not always free to choose the members of our secondary groups. For example, when we employ for any kind of work our co-workers will make our secondary group. Since the main goal of entering this secondary group is not personal communication with co-workers, but rather making money, we will choose an organization according to our goals and pay less attention to its members. From the other side if our relations grow and develop with the flow of time some members of our working organization can become our close friends and this way they will pass to our primary group. This kind of relation reflects the situation when we communicate we our ex-coworkers even when we do not work together with them any more.
Primary and secondary groups are important components of social structure. Primary and secondary groups are fundamentally different by their meaning and functions. Thanks to different functions they possess these groups have different meaning for us. Primary groups provide close and personal communication with people who are really close for us. Secondary groups help people to share and achieve common goal and to spend time.