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The Social Institution Known as Family

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Sociology
Wordcount: 897 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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One important basic aspect in society is the institution of family, and the comprehensive roles performed by it makes it a much needed institution in society. Family is important in a society, important functions that are achieved by family include, procreation of children and teaching them social values with providing them with emotional and physical care. In fact, family is an institution which solves or reduces a number of problems in the social spectrum.

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Family has been characterized by a number of sociologists and anthropologists. Society characterizes family as a social group bound by a common house, financial co-operation and rearing of children. Family consist of two married adults, one of both sexes, who engage in a socially supported sexual relationship and one or more children Adults who are not married and living together and are sexually involved, this type of household is considered to be the living arrangement of a family unit.

The connection and affection or responsibility leads to cooperative decision making, from family budgets to assemble cooperative work roles and parenting within a structure of ethnically accepted planning about the division of rights and responsibilities not only by sex but the hierarchy of generational position (UN, 1996).

Family institutions are cast into two groups by the sociologists. The nuclear family is one group, which consists of two adults and their children, often referenced as the immediate family. The second group is the extended family consisting of an older style family system which has close relationships of two or three and possibly four generations of relatives, such as grand parents, daughters, sons, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews and their husbands and wives (Bilton et. al., 1996; Giddens, 1993).

Taking into account the extent of family household, two equally elite classes can be seen, specifically the family of orientation and the family of procreation. A child born into a family is categorized as the family of orientation. The family of procreation is raised by the adult individual who conceives a family as they become adults. Sociologists categorize family systems by habitation of the couple who create the family unit. For instance, if a bride and her new husband move into her parent’s house or with the same area as her family, this arrangement of family is known as a matri-local family, while the opposite of this representation is recognized as the patri-local family (Giddens, 1993).

With the large scale migration from rural to urban areas created an accelerated abundance of nuclear families, mainly among young adults who left the isolated villages and their extended family systems, in search of employment in inner-city areas, thus obscuring their memory of the function of the extended family. With easier employment mobility of younger generations and the fading of the extended family system new social problems and disorders were rising and giving way for long term human population repercussions, such as dilapidated fertility, This is recorded and confirmed by low child birth proportion in inner-city areas and the increased age at which couples of both sexes were getting married giving way to the nuclear families structure and functions. Families are becoming less extended and becoming more isolated meaning that the nuclear family and the bond between a husband and his wife becomes more equal, with both partners working and distributing the household tasks. This type of family is characterized as the symmetrical family (Marsh, et al., 1996)

Social changes bring new trends that ultimately affect families with a mainstream of adapting to new situations and social values. With the increased contribution of women in the work force proved to be an effective, functional and structural change in the family institution.

New models of marriages were emerging replacing the pre- arranged marriages, mostly on the part of younger generations ignoring the blessing of the procreated family for the sexual promiscuous of the times, marriage and divorce increased in most countries, particularly in the Western World. Children born out of wedlock became an ordinary occurrence.

Living together without being legally married became popular among the younger age groups, believing this kind of sexual behavior was a pre-marriage experiment. This type of living arrangement was common in Western European countries, including Asian countries as well (De Silva, 1998). This living arrangement had a strong impending change in the attitudes of young adults, who experienced the changes and experimented with the changes, creating an outline of delayed marriages resulting in a birth rate decline or to delay child birth until they have their careers well established (De Silva, 1998).

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With the availability of different contraceptive methods preventing pregnancies the amount of children in families decreases, the ratio of older family member’s increases. Family members will endure various changes, placing a burden on society in the form of need for a social welfare system for the older generations, and thus the need for more financial resources. The family as a social institution bestows a lifetime of emotional, social, economic and health support for each member.


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