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Meaning and Definition of Family, Characteristics, Importance and Types of Family


Meaning of Family 


Where people married as husband and wife produce children from sexual relations and nurture them, that is called family.

Definitions of Family 


According to MacIver and Page – “A family is a group organized on the basis of sex relations small and permanent enough to enable the procreation and rearing of children.”

According to Ogburn and Nimkoff- “When we imagine family, we picture it as a permanent relationship of husband and wife with children.”

According to Bergesh and Locke- “Family is a group of persons united by the bonds of marriage or adoption, and forming a household and consisting of husband and wife, parents, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters in their respective social act and influence each other, behave and relate and create a common culture.


According to Zuckerman- “A family group, consisting of the man, the owner, his wife and their children, and sometimes one or more married men may also be included.”

From the definitions of family, it is concluded that family is the group which consists of children resulting from male and female sex relations. Or the definition of natural family can be considered. In various cultures, this natural group is joined by other adopted members who are closely related by blood.


Features of Family |Characteristics of Family 


1. Universality- The institution named family is universal. It is found in every social organization in the form of committee. This institution has been found in every society irrespective of its stage of social development. Every human remains a member of the family, and will continue to remain so in the future. Family organization is found not only in humans but also in many species of animals.

2. Emotional basis- This committee is based on many natural basic instincts of human beings. Membership of the family is full of emotion. A mother's love inspires her to sacrifice everything for the children. It is all because of sensory feeling. The basic instinct of desire for children is found in mother and father. Along with this basic tendency, affection is also found towards them. They play an important role in maintaining the family.


3. Limited size- The size of the family is limited. The main reason for its limitation is zoological conditions. Its member can be the same person who was born in the family or joined them by dispute or adoption. The family is the smallest unit in social organization as well as in formal organization. Characteristically, its size has become limited in the modern era. Because now the family is completely separated from the blood group. Nowadays only husband, wife and children are its members.

4. Central position in the social structure- The family occupies a central position in the social structure. It is the main unit of social organization. The entire social structure is based on the family. Other social organizations develop from the family.


5. Institution of socialization – The family also has a constructive influence. Man's or first is the social environment. First of all man does his socialization in this committee. The sanskars that fall on a person in childhood remain indelible. It is on these values ​​that the personality of a man is built.

6. Responsibility of the members- The responsibility of the members is maximum in the family. Family is a primary group. In relation to the primary group, it can be said that the responsibility remains unlimited in them. Man always works for the family. He is so busy that family becomes everything for him. Both men and women work hard in the family. The feeling of responsibility towards the family is found in human nature only.


7. Social Control: Social control is exercised by the family. This rule teaches man that the weapons of the family are the practices given by the society, prohibitions and laws. Certain rules are made by marriage. The two partners cannot make any changes to these rules. In the modern era, any woman or man can combine according to their wish by the department. Can't leave each other at will. In ancient times, these rules were even more strict. The control of the family was mainly based on love and sentiment.

8. Permanent and temporary nature: The family is temporary in the form of a committee. Two husband and wife together form a committee. This committee comes to an end on the death of either of the husband and wife. Seen from this point of view, families are temporary. But if seen as an institution of the family, it is permanent. The family survives forever as an institution. Only the working people keep on changing.


Functions of Family | Importance of Family


Family is the basic unit of the society. Man has made many inventions, but till date he has not been able to make any such arrangement, so that he can take the place of family. The main reason for this is that other unions and organizations are unable to do the work done by the family. We will briefly mention the function of the family here. The importance of family becomes clear from these different functions of the family.

1. Zoological functions: 

The zoological functions of the family are as follows:-


Fulfillment of sexual desires - Sexual satisfaction is also important in the basic needs of human beings. Family is the youth group where the individual fulfills his sexual desires in the manner accepted by the human society. ‌ No society can give regular and freedom to establish sexual relations because as a result of sexual relations, children are born, kinship system is born. Officers and successors and genealogical systems are also linked to this.

Procreation- Sexual satisfaction does not end in the form of an act, it also results in procreation. To maintain the continuity of human society, it is necessary that the places of the members who die are filled by new members. The family itself performs this important function of the society. Children can be born outside the family as well, but no society accepts illegitimate children. Only the children of Vedas get the office and succession.


Continuity of the species – The family has made the human race immortal, it is the confluence of death and immortality. The family has maintained the stability and continuity of the human being by giving birth to new generations. Goode writes that "if the family does not make adequate arrangements for the zoological needs of man, society will end."

2. Physical work- 

All the physical work of the family is like this:-


Physical Education: The family provides physical protection to its members. In the event of old age, illness, accident, helplessness, condition, disability, etc., the family serves its members.

Nurturing of children- In this time, children are brought up by the family only. At present, many organizations have been formed for the upbringing of the child, but only the family can provide the emotional environment which is necessary for the development of the child.


Arrangement of food- The family arranges food for the physical existence of its members. Gathering food for its members has been the main task of the family since time immemorial.

Arrangement of residence and clothes: The family also arranges residence for its members. Home is the place, where a human gets complete peace. The family itself provides clothes and space to its members to protect them from cold, heat and rain.

3. Economic work- 

All the economic work done by the family are :


Determination of Succession- In every society, there is a system of giving property and positions by the old generation to the new generation. In a patriarchal family, the succession goes to the estranged son, whereas in a matriarchal family, it is passed from the mother to the daughter or from the maternal uncle to the nephew.

Productive unit: Family is the unit of consumption and production. In societies since ancient times, most of the work of production is done by the family. In the primitive stages of human society, such as hunting, animal husbandry and agriculture, the entire production work was done by the family.


Division of Labour: The simplest form of division of labor can be seen in the family where there is division of work between men, women and children. The basis of division of work in the family is both sex and age. Women work at home, men work outside and children do menial jobs.

Management of property – It is through this economy that he receives income. The poverty and prosperity of the family is known from the income. The head of the family also decides how the family will spend its income. Each family has movable and immovable assets in the form of land, jewellery, gold, silver, tools, animals, shops etc. which are looked after by it.


4. Religious Work- 

Every family is a follower of one or the other religion. The family also imparts the knowledge of religious, education, religious, customs, ethics, festivals etc. to the members. A person learns worship and worship of God, ancestors, worship authorities from other family members only. A person learns the concept of sin-virtue, heaven-hell, violence-non-violence only from the family.

5. Political work: 

The family also does political work. From primitive society where the administrator works in consultation with the head of the family, the family plays an important political role. In India, there is a judge who settles the disputes of the joint family and administers justice. He represents his family in Gram Panchayat and Caste Panchayat.


6. Work of Socialization: 

The socialization of a child begins in the family. Through the process of socialization, a biological animal becomes a social animal. He gets knowledge of the customs, practices and conventions and culture of the society in the family.

7. Educational work - 

Family is the first school of children, where their personality is formed. The teachings given by the family keep getting assimilated in life. The biographies of great men bear testimony to the fact that family has played a major role in the formation of their personality. In primitive times, when there were no educational institutions like today, the family was the main institution of education. It is in the family itself that the child learns the lessons of affection, love, kindness, sympathy, sacrifice, obedience etc.


8. Psychological Functions: 

The family provides psychological security and satisfaction to its members. There is mutual love, sympathy and harmony among the members of the family. That instills confidence in the child. If the children do not get the love and affection of their parents, they become criminals.

9. Cultural Work- 

The family protects the culture of the society and imparts the knowledge of culture to the new generation.


10. Transfer of human experiences- 

Preservation of knowledge and experience accumulated by the older generation makes its invaluable contribution to the home family society. In its absence, every generation of the society will have to search for knowledge anew.

11. Recreational Function: 

The family also performs the function of entertainment for its members. Small children's cute speech and their mutual quarrels and love are the center of family entertainment. Festivals celebrated in the family, festivals, religious rituals, marriages, festivals, feasts, bhajan kirtan etc. provide entertainment in the family.


12. Position Determination: 

The family also does the work of determining the position of its members in the society. What will be the place of a person in the society depends on the family in which he was born? In a monarchy, only the eldest son of the king becomes the king.

13. Social control- 

The head of the family controls the members and motivates them to behave according to the customs, traditions, customs and laws of the gotra, caste and society. Scolds them for not doing so. Threatens to ostracize the family. The atmosphere of the family is such that every person there fulfills his duties and responsibilities. There are few opportunities for control by force.



It is clear from the mention of these different functions of the family that the family is an important unit of the society. Today, many associations and organizations are taking over the functions of the family, but still, in some form or the other, the existence of the family has remained and will continue to exist in the society.

Types of Family 


1. On the basis of power

Patriarchal Family - Families in which the family power is in the hands of the father and the father is the doer of the family and the entire authority is vested in the hands of the father, then such families are called patriarchal families. Hindu families of India are of this type.

Matriarchal Family: The families in which the family authority is in the hands of the mother or the female class and instead of the male head of the family, those families are called matriarchal families. This type of family is found in the tribal tribes of India.

2. On the basis of lineage 


Matrilineal Family - The families in which the name of the family and the introduction of the family are determined on the basis of the family of the mother, those families are called mere family families.

Patrilineal family- The families in which the family name and lineage of the children are determined on the basis of father are called patrilineal family.

Bilateral family- The families in which family name and family identity of close relatives other than mere and son's line are determined, they are called bisexual family.


Binomial family- The families in which the family name and children's lineage run traditionally on the basis of both mother and father's family, such a family is called binomial family.

3. Based on location

Paternal Local Family- The families in which the new bride comes to her in-laws' house and resides at her husband's house after marriage, such families are called Pitru Local Family.


Maternal local family: The families in which boys start living with their bride after marriage, such families are called matrilocal family. Whom we call son-in-law in simple language.

Neo local families: These types of families are those which are formed by the newly married couple. In some people, after marriage, neither the boy resides in the father's house nor in the husband's house, but both husband and wife live in a new house, then such families are called new local families.

4. On the basis of marriage 


A matrimonial family: When a man marries a family and settles down, such a family is called a matrimonial family.

Polygamous family: These types of families are those in which a man keeps more than one wife. This type of marriage is seen in Muslim tribes.

Polygamy: When a woman establishes a family by keeping marital relations with several men, such a family is called a polygamous family.

Polygamy: When a man marries more than one wife, such a family is called a polygamous family.

5. On the basis of number of members 


Nuclear family - This is a very small form of family whose number of members is very less, in these families husband wife and their children live together. Such a family is called a nuclear family.

Joint family- There are joint families and families in which the number of members is very high, in which up to three generations of members live together, these are called joint families, under the joint family, people of up to three generations live- 


(i) Extended family - This family in which members of up to three generations and other blood relatives reside together and whose members number from 10 to 50.

(ii) Large family- This family whose member number ranges from 5 to 15 members in which parents and their married and unmarried children reside, such family is called large family.

(iii) Small family- This family in which only husband wife and their children live together whose number is up to 5, 6, such family is called small family or small family.