Family: A Social Institution for Maharashtra PSC Exam 2022

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Family: A Social Institution

Family: A Social Institution, Introduction, Definition & Classification (Anthropology, Sociology)

  • The word ‘family’ has its origin in the Latin word familia derived from famulus meaning servant. Familia must have been used to refer to all slaves and servants living under one roof, including the entire household that is the master, on the one hand, and the wife, children and servants on the other living under his control.
  • Today, when we use the term family it covers all the various groups of relatives representing a household (all the individuals living under one roof) , gens (all those descended from a common ancestor) , agnatic (relatives on the mother՚s side, and then by extension all blood relatives

What is Family?

  • Family is considered universal in nature and it is difficult to trace the origins.
  • A family is a social and economic unit consisting minimally of one or more parents and their children. Members of a family always have certain reciprocal rights and obligations, particularly economic ones. Family members usually live in one household.
  • Though common residence is not instrumental for a family. In our society, children may live away while they go to college or some members of the family members deliberately set up separate households in order to manage different business enterprises while maintaining economic unity.
  • L. H. MORGAN in his work Ancient Society (1877) stated that the principal institutions of mankind originated in savagery, were developed in barbarism, and are maturing in civilization. This is called unilinear theory of evolution.
Theory of Evolution
  • In like manner, the family too has passed through successive forms, and created great systems of consanguinity and affinity which have remained to the present times. He said family was advancing from consanguine, through intermediate forms, to the monogamian.
L. H. Morgan՚s Classification of Family
L. H. Morgan՚s Classification of Family

Morgan՚s evolutionary scheme in family is the first classification of family and is based on five different types of marriage:

  • The Consanguine Family- founded upon the intermarriage of brothers and sisters in a group.
  • The Penaluna Family- derived from the Hawaiian relationship of Penaluna. It was founded on the group marriage of several brothers to each other՚s wives in a group; and of several sisters to each other՚s husbands in a group.
  • The Syndyamian or pairing of family founded upon the marriage of single pairs, without giving the right of exclusive cohabitation to any person over the other.
  • The Patriarchal family -marriage of one man to several wives, each wife being secluded from every other.
  • The Monogamian family- marriage between single pairs, with the married couple having exclusive cohabitation with one another the latter constituting the essential of the institution.
  • In early 20th century, R. H. Lowie defined family as a group based on material relations , rights and duties of parenthood, common habitation and reciprocal relations between father and children.
  • Ralph Linton defined family as a group that involves marriage, rights and duties
  • George Peter Murdock examined 192 societies and formulated a definition of family as ‘the family is a social group characterized by common residence, economic co-operation, and reproduction. It includes both sexes, at least two of whom maintain a socially approved sexual relationship, and one or more children, own or adopted.’
Morgan՚s Evolutionary Scheme in Family
  • Nuclear family: consists of a married couple (man and woman) with their children own or adopted. In certain cases, one or more additional persons may also reside with them. Such type of family is prevalent in almost all societies.
  • Composite family: composed of two or more nuclear families which can divided into polygamous family and the extended family.
  • Polygyny family: One man having many wives.
  • Polyandrous family: One woman having many husbands.
  • Patrilocal family: composed of two or more nuclear families residing in the same house, it is an extension of father-son relationship.
  • Matrilocal family: founded with two or more nuclear families affiliated through an extension of mother daughter relationship.
  • Bilocal extended family: combination of patrilocal extended family and matrilocal extended family. The extended family consists of two or more lineally related kinfolk of the same sex and their spouses and off-spring occupying a single household
  • Avunculocal extended family: consisted of two or more nuclear families affiliated through an extension of maternal-uncle and sisters son relationship. Such a family includes a nuclear family formed by a man his wife and daughters and the nuclear family formed by his sister՚s son and wife and children.
  • Fraternal extended family: like patrilineal extended family wherein the family comprises of a man and his wife and their sons and the sons՚ wives and children.

#Definitions of family

#L. H. Morgan՚s classification of family

#G. P. Murdock՚s classification of family