Functions of Family




Functions of Family:

Basic functions of family can be summarised as follows:

(1) Socialization: Family is the basic unit of socialization. According to Talcott Parsons, family fulfils the basic need of primary socialization of children. This involves the moulding of the personality of children according to shared norms and values. Family plays a crucial role in the on-going process of socialization.

(2) Regulation of sexual activity: As pointed out by Murdock, the family provides scope for the expression of sexual desires and drives and sexual gratification for the spouses. At the same time, by framing rules and forbidding sexual activity outside marriage, it provides control and stabilises society. Every culture regulates sexual activity mainly to maintain the kinship organisation, a network of close relations. Sexual relations or marriage between kin is forbidden. (Incest taboo) Precisely which kin falls within this regulation varies from culture to culture. Family and kinship regulate sexual and reproductive activity.

(3) Emotional security: Family provides physical protection, emotional support, and also material assistance to its members. Family as a unit of primary relations serves as a ‘haven in the heartless world’, a unit characterised by caring, cooperation, support, and acceptance. Parsons sees this as the stabilisation of adult personalities. Family provides emotional security and acts as a counterweight to the stress and tensions of modern life.

(4) Economic stability – The importance of family as an economic unit has lessened, as production is separated from family. Members of a modern family do not work together as they did in the old system. However, the family still provides its members with economic security, through the sharing of economic and material resources. Property is protected and maintained through the family.

(5) Social identity – Family provides social identity to its members. Social identity based on race, ethnicity, religion, caste, and social class is ascribed to an individual, at birth, through the family. Families play a crucial role as agents of stable transmission of social standing, from parents to children. All these functions taken together explain why family is seen as ‘the backbone of society’.

Example for better understanding:

When we speak about socialisation, family plays a pivotal role as they are the first agents who help you with communicating, walking, and even moulding you to become independent in life. Everyone needs emotional support and the first one we cling upon is our family. Because that’s our safe space (there can be exceptions). Most of you all are still studying without doing any part-time job and that’s because your family provides you with economic stability. The best example of social identity is the most commonly used phrase “Sharma Ji Ka Beta”. The popular example that parents give or the memes feature is this phrase. The family gives you a social identity, that’s also your ascribed status.

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