A primary group is one in which members share a close face to face relationship. They offer love and support to its members. Examples of primary groups would be family groups,religious groups, crisis and support groups.
Secondary groups have large number of members who share common goals. The main role of a secondary group is to set and achieve specific and clearly defined goals. Examples of secondary groups are the army, police force and employees of a company.
Secondary groups are governed by a set of formal rules for members to follow. For example, in a classroom, the structure of the group is set by rules determined by the teacher and the school governing body.
Goals The goals of secondary groups often determine who their members are. Members are often assigned into the same group because they share a common goal to fulfill a specific need or task. For example, in a company, the employees share the goal of completing a given task which may be to produce goods and services for profit.
Location The location of secondary groups is also determined by the goals of the group. The location needs to be a common, neutral ground used for the purpose of carrying out the given tasks of the group. A classroom, for example, is found in a school where the teacher and students meet. In a company, the location is determined by the work the employees do. A business organization often has a mutual meeting place such as a factory or office space.
A voluntary group is a collection of persons who work for free to help others in the community. Voluntary groups often work alongside other organizations such as the church. They are often found engaged in activities to raise money to care for the sick, homeless and clean the environment.
A peer group is an association of people who are similar in age, social status and background. As children, individuals tend to get together for the purpose of play. As they grow into teenagers they take on a more formal structure in which one needs to abide by certain rules and beliefs to be a part of the peer group.
Peer groups help people to have a sense of belonging. It gives them the opportunity make rules and uphold rules. A peer group can form a club or a debate team which may have a name and rules to abide by such as times to meet, clothing to wear and modes of behaviour. Not all peer groups are positive however. Gangs for example tend to influence their members to break rules and carry out illegal activities.
A formal group is one that aims to accomplish an organizational objective or task. It is created by formal authority for some defined purpose. A formal group can be relatively permanent such as an accounting firm. There are managers, supervisors and those who work below them in rank. They work cooperatively to achieve the goals of the company.
A formal group may also be temporary. A commission of inquiry or committee may be set up to undertake an investigation. Upon completing the task the group is disbanded.
A committee can also be temporary such as a special task force that is set up for a particular purpose and is then disbanded when the purpose is achieved. For example, the committee to reelect the President is temporary in nature and is disbanded after the election.
An informal group is one which is formed naturally through social interaction between people who share similar interests. These groups do not have formal structures but leaders can be appointed spontaneously based on their standing in the group. Informal groups exist outside of formal legal framework and operate without the approval of any authority system that would enforce rigid rules.
In a company a group of workers may come together in defense of a coworker they believe was treated unfairly. They may show their support for their colleague by staging a protest. Although informal groups have no set rules or rigid structure they can be very effective in their role of seeing to the welfare of their members.