20. Family

What is family? If we want to know this than it is necessary to know various definition given by many philosophers and psychologists.
According to Beisnz, “The family may be described as a weapon with a child, and a man to look after them.” Generally some people clarifies the word family to mean a wife but from this definition of sociology we came to know that the child is an indispensable part of the family.
According to MacIver and Page, “The family is a group defined by a sex relationship sufficiently precise and enduring to provide for the procreation and upbringing of the children.” So we can say that a temporary relationship between a man and woman for sexual gratification cannot be considered as a family. In order to constitute a family the sex relationship should be permanent and definite enough to admit of the birth of children.
Chief characteristics
Permanent relation between husband and wife: A family is made by the husband, wife and their children. A permanent relation between husband and wife is the main characteristic of a family. Marital relations in many countries may be more or less permanent. But the relation between man and woman have some permanency because without this neither can the children be brought up nor there would be existence of family.
Permanency of sexual relationship : Without marriage there can be no family even though there may be any relation between man and woman. So there should be permanency in sexual relation between man and woman because temporary relation, either they are sexual or any type, are not considered as a family.
Blood relations : Another unique characteristic of a family is the existence of blood relationship among family members. All family members are closely related with each other because an attachment exists among all the members. But there is no blood relation between husband and wife.
Common residence : If the members of a family reside at different places it is very difficult to considers them as a family inspite of their blood or any other relation. Generally all the members of a family live in one place either it is a room or an entire place, rented or the ancestral home of the family.
Functions of family
Many experts have describe the functions of family. Mainly there are two types of functions :
Basic and Universal
1. Traditional
2. Basic and Universal Functions
Biological Function : The primary biological functions are :
Re-production : According to Hindu culture procreation is the main and basic function of a family. It is written in Hindu Shastras that it is a religious activity to have a son. If he is not able than he suffers in hell. In almost every part of the world barren women are the objects of hatred and mockery. Even Hindu Shastra permits a second marriage if there is no son from first marriage. If the husband of a woman is incapable of procreation, the woman conceives a child from another man through ‘Niyoga’. Some Hindu philosophers have considers reproduction to be the main aim of marriage.
Arrangement of food, housing and clothing : Food, housing and clothing are the basic requirements of human life. The earning members of the family arrange food and clothing to all the members. Every family has a house to live in.
Psychological Functions : The second basic and universal function is psychological. Burgess and Locke have written, “Mutual affection is becoming the essential basis of marriage and the family.” The relation between man and woman in the family are not only physical but they share happiness, joy and sorrows of each other. This relation is physical as well as sentimental. An all round progress in personality of a child is not possible without family.
Sexual Satisfaction : According to Reed, “The fundamental functions of the family is to regulate and gratify sexual needs. In modern age the satisfaction of sexual needs is one of the primarily functions of the family because if there is no satisfaction in sexual life, it may cause disputes in family. According to Havlock Ellis, “With failure of sexual harmony, marriage structure rests on shifting sands.”
Protection and Care : According to Groves, “The protection and care of children is one necessary function of the family.” In order to maintain the existence of a child or an old man family is basic requirement. Because both the human child and old man needs care and protection.
Traditional functions
Under mentioned are the traditional functions of the family :
Economic function
Labour division : The work and duties are divided among the family members according to their status and age. Male members generally do the work. On the other hand the woman take care of household works and children normally does that type of work which helps in their development. All the members of the family should understand their responsibility and work co-operatively.
Arrangement of Income : The family makes arrangement of income to fulfil the needs of the members. Money is the necessary requirement for food, clothes, house and other requirements of life.
Care and Organising of Property : Most of the family have some property in the shape of land, house, jewellery, vehicle, cash etc. All family members looks after there property and in case of an emergency, it distributes among the members.
Social Functions
Family is one of the Basic and Primary unit of society. Following functions are its social function.

  • To Maintain Status : An important function of the family is to maintain the respect and status the society
  • Socialization : The family tries his members to educate on all those subject like eating, conversing, behaviour, cooperation so that he became an ideal member of society.
  • Transmission of Social Heritage : The family hand over the social heritage to the new generations. So, the social traditions, customs and principle, etc. are transmitted continuously from one generation to the next.
  • Religious Responsibilities : According to Hindu culture and Hindu Shastra, family life is considered as the basis of the fulfillment of religious responsi-bilities. According to Hindu shastra wife is a life partner. The presence of wife is essential in religious duties and they were considered incomplete if the wife is not present. Presence of son is also essential in many religious activities. The family members fulfil their religious duties while living in family.
  • Cultural Activities : The family moulds its member to keep the culture of society alive. The family establishes such an environment that their members specially children learn to live and behave according to their culture.
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