A family is formed by a married man and woman living with their unmarried children.
According to sociologists, family is the most important institution of a society because survival of human race is related with it. It is the family that brings up an individual by taking care and by training him. An individual passes most of his time in a family, affecting his personality most of all. Family is the center of a society and is a source of culture. However, family structure is under culture and is in harmony with its demands. The definition of family by different sociologists is given below.
Definitions of Family
1. “A family is parents and their children.”
2. “A family is a set of relatives.”
3. “A family is all the descendants of a' common ancestor.”
4. “A family is small or large group of close relatives.”
The definitions are limited to number of individuals and give nothing about the functions of a family. There are different societies and different cultures. So, culture is the measure to decide the structure and function of a family.
1. Broom and Selznick :
“The family is a kin-based cooperative unit.”
2. Murdock :
“The family is a social group characterized by common residence, economic cooperation and reproduction.”
3. Richard T. Schaefer :
“A set of persons related by blood, marriage or adoption who shares the responsibilities for reproduction and caring for members of society.”
Types of Family
The definition of family befitting every culture is difficult. It is necessary to explain its structure. For this purpose, types of family are necessary to be explained.
1. Family pattern (according to membership) :
i. The Nuclear Family :
This family consists of husband, wife and children. This is the characteristic of modern societies, however, urban societies consist of nuclear families because of its resembling structure and harmony with the urban societies. In Western societies, nuclear family is popular whereas in Pakistan, urban societies, there are nuclear families.
Characteristics of Nuclear Family :
1. It consists of husband, wife and children with no external interference and thus, having stability.
2. Social interaction is intense and deep, closeness and sacredness is more and individual gets more attention and have a deep impression on the personalities.
3. There is no cultural rigidity but there is a tendency to change, to innovate and to accept the changes easily that take place in society.
4. The relationship of husband and wife is based upon mental regard and harmony by giving weight to each other’s opinion and also giving the right of opinion to the children.
5. It is a unit and presents the best example of economic cooperation with intense unit and dependence on each other.
ii. Extended Family :
A family consisting of parent’s children and near relations likes grandfather or uncle etc. living in a same house. This was current in traditional families. In Pakistan, village has extended family system and is in harmony with demands of agrarian economy. In India Pakistan, extended family generally consists of parents, children, grandsons, aunts and uncles etc. Such a family is a sign of unity and .love and elders are thought a blessing of God.
Characteristics of Extended Family :
i. Its number is more, consisting of three generations i.e., parents, children, grand-children.
ii. The eldest of the family, man or woman, is head of the family who decides family matters and all obey his or her orders.
iii. All economic affairs are common and are spent with the approval of the head of the family just as, in India Pakistan, agricultural activities are done collectively and income is used commonly.
iv. This is a custodian of social values, cultural traditions and customs. In matters of death, marriage occasions and cultural tradition are abided by this type of family and dislikes any change.
v. Education of children in such a family, is a collective responsibility, lacking individual attention and thus producing personal problems. The abilities and personality of an individual do not get chance of promotion and personal complications become serious.
2. Family Pattern (According to Decent) :
It has three basic types :
i. Patrilineal Decent 'Family :
It is that type of family where decent comes from father and grandfather. With reference to property, only father side relatives have importance along with emotional attachment. In the world, in most of the societies this family pattern is current.
ii. Matrilineal Decent Family :
It is that type of family where decent is connected with mother and grandmother. Here heredity and emotional attachment is with mother’s relatives. This type is in the North India within certain tribes. In addition, in the Western societies due to certain social problems, decent is becoming attributed to mother
and legally an individual is recognized by reference to his/her mother.
iii. Bilateral Decent Family :
In this family pattern, both father and mother decents are considered. The relatives of both father and mother have importance. This type was found in traditional societies. In Arabian countries, this type has been very popular and even today has importance.
3. Family Pattern (According to Residence) :
In every society, there are certain norms for newly married people fart residence. These divide a family into three types :
i. Patrilocal Family :
If the new married people reside with father of the bridegroom, it is called patrilocal family. Its reason being the need of an emotional and economical support of kinsfolk for the couple. In Pakistan and India, this type is current.
ii. Matrilocal Family :
If the newly married couple lives with the parents of the bride, it is called matrilocal family. This type is less current in the Society but under specific circumstances, it comes into existence. In some tribes of India, this is popular.
iii. Neolocal Family :
If a newly married , couple resides separately from parents, is called neolocal family and this is found in modern industrial societies. However, in Arabia, this type has been current for centuries.
4. Family Pattern (According to Authority) :
Family is an important unit of society. Its decisions are important. Who is to decide and who has the power to decide culturally? From this point of view, the family pattern has three forms:
i. Patriarchy Family :
Such a family, where power to decide lies with father or man. Such a family is called patriarchy family. The headship of the family is with the elder man or the father. Women are not given importance and no consent or suggestion is taken from them. In Pakistan and India, such system is present.
ii. Matriarchy Family :
If a woman or elder woman of a family decides matters, it is called matriarchy family. Men have no concern with family matters and an elder woman decides matters and has all economic matters and sources with her.
Anthropologists think, that this was the custom in the beginning of the societies but today there is no trustworthy example of this. However, there are certain families where in the absence of men, women decide matters under their headship and their decisions are accepted.
iii. Egalitarian Family :
In this type of family, neither man nor woman is authority to decide but both wife and husband give equal importance to each other’s suggestion. Decisions are made with mutual consent. Children are also included but it does not mean that every decision is made in a democratic manner but domestic matters pertain to mother and business matters and education pertain to father. In the selection of mate, children are consulted. This type is current in modern industrial society and is thought a symbol c I culture and civilization.