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Changing Structure of Family

(Project Report)

Submitted to: Submitted By:

Dr. Uttam Kumar Panda Shivam Agrawal

Assistant Professor Sem 1, Sec. A, Roll No. 147

Faculty of Sociology

Hidayatullah National Law University

Naya Raipur, Chhattisgarh

I hereby declare that this research work titled Changing Structure of Family is my own work
and represents my own ideas and where others ideas or words have been included, I have
adequately cited and referenced the original sources.

I also declare that I have adhered to all the principles of academic honesty and integrity and have
not misrepresented or fabricated or falsified any idea/data/fact/source in my submission.

Shivam Agrawal


I , Shivam Agrawal, would like to humbly present this project to Dr Uttam Kumar Panda. I
would first of all like to express my most sincere gratitude to Dr. Uttam Kumar Panda for his
encouragement and guidance regarding several aspects of this project. I am thankful for being
given the opportunity of doing a project on Changing Structure of Family. I am thankful to the
library staff as well as the IT lab staff for all the conveniences they have provided me with,
which have played a major role in the completion of this paper.

I would like to thank God for keeping me in good health and senses to complete this project. I
would also like to thank my family members and my friends for giving their valuable opinions in
the completion of this paper.

I present this project with a humble heart.

Shivam Agrawal

Semester 1

Section A

Roll Number: 147


S. No. Particulars Page No.

1. Declaration i

2. Acknowledgements ii

3. Chapter 1 , Introduction 1

4. Chapter 2 , Review of Literature 2

5. Chapter 3 , Objectives and Research Questions 4

6. Chapter 4 , Methodology of the Study 5

7. Chapter 5 , The Family 6

8. Chapter 6 , Origin of the Family 11

9. Chapter 7 , Change in Family Structure and 16

Family Functions

10. Chapter 8 , Future of the Family 21

11. Chapter 9 , Major Findings of the Study 25

12. Conclusion 27

13. References 28

Chapter 1


The family forms the basic unit of social organization and it is difficult to imagine how human
society could function without it. The family has been seen as a universal social institution an
inevitable part of human society. According to Burgess and Lock the family is a group of
persons united by ties of marriage, blood or adoption constituting a single household interacting
with each other in their respective social role of husband and wife, mother and father, brother
and sister creating a common culture. G.P Murdock defines the family as a social group
characterized by common residence, economic cooperation and reproduction. It includes adults
of both sexes at least two of whom maintain a socially approved sexual relationship and one or
more children own or adopted of the sexually co-habiting adults.

Nimkoff says that family is a more or less durable association of husband and wife with or
without child or of a man or woman alone with children. According to Maclver family is a group
defined by sex relationships sufficiently precise and enduring to provide for the procreation and
upbringing of children. Kingsley Davis describes family as a group of persons whose relations to
one another are based upon consanguinity and who are therefore kin to one another. Malinowski
opined that the family is the institution within which the cultural traditions of a society is handed
over to a newer generation. This indispensable function could not be filled unless the relations to
parents and children were relations reciprocally of authority and respect. According to Talcott
Parsons families are factories which produce human personalities.

Chapter 2
Review of Literature

Changing Family Structure and Youthful Well-Being

Assessing the Future JOHN N. EDWARDS

The vanishing nuclear family constitutes one of the most significant demographic and social
transformations in recent history. A voluminous body of theoretical and empirical literature in
family studies, proceeding on the assumption that the nuclear family is the optimum child-
rearing structure, suggests this change will have dire consequences for the well-being of future
generations. The present essay challenges that conclusion, pointing out various methodological
and conceptual problems with the extant research on which this prediction is based.

Some of the major changes that occurred in the family patterns after industrialization are as
follows: 1. Decline of Extended Family System 2. Changing Authority Pattern 3. Changing
Status of Women 4. Changing Economic Functions 5. Free Choice of Mate Selection 6. Decline
in Family Size 7. Changing Attitudes towards Sex and Marriage 8. Declining Trend in Non-
essential Functions.

The 18th and 19th century industrial revolution, which has been largely technical in nature
(brought changes in technology), has also brought with it the spirit of materialism and hedonism.
This spirit has greatly affected the society as a wholeits economic and social values and
ideology. Any change in the society has some bearing on the system of familya basic
institution of society.

Today, the family is not the same as it was before industrialization. Industrialization has changed
the concept of the family largely. About a half century back, Burgess and Locke, in their book,
The Family (1953) said that the family is moving fast or slowly from institution to
companionship. It is united not by work and external pressures but by shared interests and

The direction of change is from the traditional family systemusually extended or joint family
system to some form of conjugal family system (neo-local and nuclear form) of which the
kinship network is not strong. Commenting on this new form of family, William J. Goode
(1963) argued that this nuclear family pattern is in itself a world revolution.

Renowned social philosopher Erich Fromm once remarked about the declining trend of family:
We tend to love things more than people and to use people for personal advantage very much as
we are things . Frequently today people are valued for what they acquire or achieve more than
for what they are.

Commenting over the declining functions of the family, Talcott Parsons remarked that the
family has shed some of its less necessary functions, such as economic, political, health,
education, recreation, but it still performs the most important functions of socialization and
tension and emotional management which are keeping alive the institution of family in face of
so many onslaughts on it.

Chapter 3

Objectives and Research Questions

The project seeks to achieve following objectives:

1. To explore the concept of Family

2. To understand the changing pattern of Family
3. To analyze the future of the Families.

While making of this paper, the following research questions have been tried to answer:

1. What do you mean by the term Family?

2. How did the concept of Family originated ?
3. What are the different forms of Family?
4. How has the structure of Family changed over years?
5. What are the features of modern form of the Family?
6. What will happen with the concept of the most premium primary group i.e. the Family in

Chapter 4

Methodology of the Study

The projects seeks to explore about the concept of family, including its meaning and various
definitions given by some great sociologists. The term family is interpreted by various
sociologists in their own ways. When it comes to the origin of the said concept, it has been
agreed by the thinkers that the need of a family arose in order to satisfy some basic human needs.

Dealing with the structure and the functions of the family, its ever changing nature has been
highlighted. Its not a new but rather an old thing to say that the structure of the family has been
changing over the years and will keep doing so. It supports the law of nature which says that the
only thing which is permanent is the change.

Coming to the way in which the project has been made i.e. the methodology of the project, the
descriptive and analytical modes of research is being adopted while making this project.
Analytical approach was applicable in all the stages of research, right from the articulation to the
formulation of arguments on the issues mentioned in the project. Also, a lot of observation made
by eminent sociologists have been taken into the consideration while making this project. The
said method concentrates on observing the subject and the drawing the conclusions.

The secondary sources of data has been used in this project. Various books and different sites
have turned to be useful in context of the subject matter. All the secondary sources of data have
been mentioned in the paper as references. Faculty of Sociology has been primarily helpful for
the completion of this project. Footnotes have been provided wherever necessary.

Chapter 5

The Family

Of all human groups the family is the most important primary group. It is a small social group
consisting ordinarily of a father, mother and one or more children. Historically it has undergone
several changes emerging , according to Burgess and Locke, from a hard and fast social structure
or institution and becoming a flexible social relationship1. In this chapter, we propose to study
this important social group, which despite several changes in its forms and functions, continues
to serve the community.

The meaning of Family:

At the outset, it is more important to explain the sense in which the term Family used. The
word Family has been taken over from the roman word famulus meaning a servant. In Roman
law, the word denoted the group of producers and slaves and other servants as well as members
connected by common decent or marriage. The meaning of the term Family can be understood
by the following definitions:

M F Nimkoff says that, Family is a more or less durable association of husband and wife with
or without children, or of a man and woman alone, with children.

Burgess and Locke define family as A group of persons united by ties of marriage, blood or
adoption, consisting a single household, interacting and inter-communicating with each other in
their respective social roles of husband and wife, mother and father, son and daughter, brother
and sister creating a common culture.

Eliott and Merrill state Family is the biological social unit composed of husband, wife and

MacIver defines family as a group defined by sex relationship sufficiently precise and enduring
to provide for the procreation and upbringing of children.

1. Burgess and Locke, The Family, pp.26-27

Characteristics of a Family
Out of these definitions the following characteristics of a family may be stated:
(i) Marital relationship:
A family comes into existence when a man and a woman establish mating relation between them
through the institution of marriage in order to satisfy their sexual desire. When the marital
relations breakup, the family disintegrates.

(ii) Forms of Marriage:

Various form of marriage like monogamy, polygamy, polygynous or group marriage may take
place to establish mating relationship between man and woman. Partners may be selected by
parents or by the elders, or choice may be left to the wishes of the individual concerned.

(iii) A system of nomenclature:

Every family is known by a name and has its own system of reckoning descent. Descent may be
reckoned through the male line or through the female line. When a descent is reckoned through
the father, it is called patriliny. When it is reckoned through the mother it is called matriliny.
When descent is traced through both the lines it is called biliny.

(iv) An Economic provision:

Every family needs an economic provision to satisfy the economic needs of its members. So the
head of the family and other members of family carry on certain profession or business to earn
money in order to maintain family.

(v) A common habitation:

A family requires a home for the living of family members. Without a dwelling place the task of
child bearing and child rearing cant be adequately performed. The family thus a biological unit
implying institionalised sex relationship between husband and wife. It results from the
physiological union of two married persons who creates the other members of the unit. It is both
an association and institution. It is universal institution found in every age and in every society. It
is the primary cell out of which the community develops.

Forms of Family:
1.On the basis of marriage practices family is divided into two types.

They are:
(1) Monogamous, (2) Polygamous

(1) Monogamous:
Under this system one man marries one woman at a time. Both the husband and wife are
prohibited to have any extra-marital relationship. It is regarded as an ideal form of family in the

(2) Polygamous family:

Polygamous family is further subdivided into two types

Polyandrous family and polygynous family.

Polyandrous family:
One wife, many husband.

Polyandrous family is seen among Eskimos, South Sea Islanders and Wahums of Africa, among
Mundas and some ancient tribes of the Malay Peninsula.

The causes of such practice are: Lesser number of women, High bride price, Poverty condition,
Backwardness, The need of strengthening joint family system.
Polygynous family:
One husband many wives.

This type of family is found in many tribes of America, Asia and Australia and among the
Negroes of Africa and Eskimo tribes. In India till today it is prevailed among Muslims.

The causes of this type of family are: To acquire social prestige, Earlier aging of female, To
obtain more women and children for economic support, To make up unbalanced ratio of women
and men of the society.
2. On the basis of authority a family may be patriarchal or matriarchal.

The patriarchal family:
In patriarchal family the male head of the family is possessed of inclusive powers. The family
father or the eldest male descendant is the protector and ruler of the family enjoying full
authority over the family members. His power over the family is absolute. When the father dies,
the headship goes to the eldest son.

The matriarchal family:

In a matriarchal family the authority is vested in the woman head of the family especially the
wife or the mother with the male being subordinate. It is otherwise known as maternal family.
She is the owner of property and rules over the family.

3. On the basis of residence the family may be classified as matrilocal, patrilocal, bilocal,
avunculocal, neolocal residence.

Matrilocal family: In this type of family the husband goes to live in the house of his wife.
Patrilocal family: In this kind the wife goes to live in the house of her husband.
Bilocal: Couple decides to live with the parents of either the groom or the bride.
Avunculocal: The word avuncu means uncle. It is family where the couple lives in uncles house
after their marriage.
Neolocal: The marriage couple stays in a complete new residence neither in the grooms family
nor in the brides family.
4. On the basis of ancestry the family is classified into:
Partilineal, Matrilineal, Bilateral family, Ambilineal family.

Patrilineal family: In patrilineal family the ancestry continues through the father. The property
and the family name also are inherited through the male line. This is the common type of family
prevalent today.
Matrilineal: In matrilineal family mother is the only basis of ancestry. In this family the female
members only enjoy the rights of property and inheritance. Such type of family is prevalent
among the people of Malbar the North American Indians and a few other sects of India.
Bilateral Family: In this type of family the ancestry is reckoned through both father and mother.

Ambilineal family: It is a family in which one may trace ones ancestry through father in one
generation but in the next generation ones son may trace ancestry through his mother.
5. On the basis of structure:
On the basis of structure the family has been classified as nuclear and extended family or joint

Nuclear family:
Nuclear family is composed of a husband, wife and their unmarried children. The children leave
the parental households as soon as they are married. It is an autonomous unit fee from the control
of elders and economically self sufficient. Children enjoy maximum care, love and affection of
the parents.

In this family both husband and wife maintain harmonious relations to take care their children
but the children in a nuclear family may develop emotional problems owing to the excessive
centeredness of the family and the solicitude of the parents for them. Also in crises like deaths or
separations, the children of nuclear family may get depressed and may suffer a lot. Modern
family is the best example of this type of family.

Extended family:

Extended family can be viewed as a merger of several nuclear families. It may include an old
man and his wife, their son, the sons wife and the sons children. Such type of families is large
in size. The eldest male is the head of the family and all adult members share responsibilities of
household tasks.

However it is a permanent institution where children enjoys care, attention of elders. They also
learn to adjust to persons of varying age levels as well as they inculcate some qualities like co-
operation, sympathy etc. at an early age. A wide range of protection is given to its members. On
the other hand however it may make the children more dependent and stifle the development of
self reliance and initiative. It may be pointed out that though the family is classified into various
types yet the patriarchal and nuclear family is prevailed in the greater parts of the world.
Everybody wants to go for a nuclear family in the modern society because of its advantages
which certainly outnumber the disadvantages.

Chapter 6
Origin of the Family
Legendary accounts of family origin:
To trace the origin of the family in the unknown past is a much harder task. Family has been
found in every human society. It is hard to conceive of any stage of society wherein some degree
of social regulation over sex relationships did not exist, and wherein family in one form or the
other could be entirely absent.

Thus there can be no question of its having originated. Nevertheless, most people have within
their folk lore certain mythical or legendary accounts of the origin of the family. Another is the
Sanskrit myth which is in many respects similar to the Biblical story.

In the beginning when Twashtri came to the creation of woman, he found that he had exhausted
materials in the making of man, and that no solid elements were left. In this dilemma, after
profound meditation, he did as follows: He took the rotundity of the moon, and the curves of
creepers, and the clinging of tendrils, and the trembling of grass, and the slenderness of the reed,
and the bloom of flowers, and the lightness of leaves, and the tapering of the elephants trunk,
and the glances of deer, and the clustering of rows of bees and the joyous gaiety of sunbeams,
and the weeping of clouds, and the fickleness of the winds, and the timidity of the hare, and the
vanity of the peacock, and the softness of the parrots bosom, and the hardness of almond, and
the sweetness of honey, and the cruelty of the tiger, and the warm glow of fire, and the coldness
of snow, and the chattering of jays, and the cooing of the kokila and the hypocrisy of the crane,
and the fidelity of the chakrawaka and compounding all these together, he made woman and
gave her to man. But after one week, man came to him and said. Lord, this creature that you
have given to me makes my life miserable and so I have come to give her back, as I cannot live
with her.

So Twashtri said, Very well: and he took her back. Then after another week, man came again to
him and said. Lord, I find that my life is very lonely, since I gave you back that creature, I
remember how she used to dance and sing to me, and look at me out of the corner of her eye, and

play with me, and cling to me, and her laughter was music, and she was beautiful to look at, and
soft to touch; so give her back to i.e., again. So Twashtri said, Very well; and gave her back

Then after only three days, man came back to him again and said: Lord, I know not how it is,
but after all I have come to the conclusion that she is more of trouble than a pleasure to me, so
please take her back again. But Twashtri said, Out on you! Be off! I will have no more of this.
You must manage how you can. The man said. But I cannot live with her. And Twashtri
replied: Neither could you live without her. And he turned his back on man. The man said
What to be? For I cannot live either with her or without her.

Theory of Primitive Promiscuism:

Some early anthropologists as J. L. Lubbock. L. H. Morgan, J. G. Frazer and recently R.
Briffault have put forward the theory that the original state of mankind was one of animal-like
sexual promiscuity with no stable marital relationships among them. There was neither family
nor marriage but there were only promiscuous relations between men and women.

Briffault tells in his The Mothers that man originally lived in a state of social promiscuity and
that the earliest human family consisted of a mother and her child. It was only after the mother
began realizing the economic advantages of having a man attached to her that she tried to turn
the casual attachment of the male into a more permanent relationship. He argued that such
institutions as the sororate the levirate, sex hospitality, exchange of wives point to an early state
of promiscuity.

The advocates of this theory were also impressed by classificatory systems according to which
the members of the senior age group are indiscriminately called fathers or mothers; those of
the same age group brothers and sisters; and of the child age group, sons or daughters.

Moreover, the ignorance of the fact of paternity reported of the Central Australians and the
Trobriand Islanders was also cited by them in support of their hypothesis that at the beginning of
human society there was no family in the accepted sense of the term.

Evidence refuted:
The evidences cited above, however, are not solid ones to refute the fact even in the earliest
society known the family was an established institution. From the existence of the above facts it
cannot be concluded that originally there was the state of promiscuity, as these facts can be
explained on more logical grounds.

The classificatory system was a conventional device in order to observe the rules of exogamy.
Under these rules all those women with whom marriage is forbidden may be called sisters,
while the name wives may be given to those women from whom it is permissible to choose a

Even today we use the term sisters or brothers for our fellow members. As regards the
ignorance of paternity, firstly, there is no agreement as to whether this ignorance is real or
conventional. Malinowski thinks it to be real though he does not believe it to be a remnant of an
early state of promiscuity. Moreover, most primitive peoples were not much troubled about
physical paternity. Periodic license and prenuptial promiscuity are not incompatible with some
forms of a marriage system.

Freedom of intercourse though not universal does prevail in some human societies. Freedom of
conception outside marriage is, however, never allowed. In these societies where pre-nuptial
intercourse is regarded as legitimate, marriage is yet a condition sine qua non of legitimate
children. Liberty of sexual intercourse is not, therefore, identical with liberty of parenthood.

Further, there is no information of any people on earth among whom sexual promiscuity existed
as a permanent practice. Linton, a modern anthropologist, says, The old concept of a
promiscuous horde as the starting point for family development was required by the type of logic
which made the Victorian family the last step in social evolution but there is nothing else to
support it. Westermark concluded that far from living in promiscuity, man originally lived
under a monogamous form of marriage.

Family has no origin:

Thus, no clear traces of early promiscuity can be found among the primitive peoples. The family
has no origin in the sense that there was ever a stage in society from which the family was

entirely absent and that it was at a later stage that it emerged. Modern anthropological evidence
supports the view of Lowie that the family, and especially the bilateral family, has been an
absolute universal unity of human society.

Family has its origin in certain needs of man. Hence the origin of family cannot be explained in
any historical fact or circumstance which at any stage in human history might have determined
its existence, rather it is to be explained in a complex of human desires and conscious needs
which find fulfillment in the family.

As soon as many felt these needs, family emerged to satisfy them:

(i) The need for procreation:

There is in the first place, the need for procreation of children in order to perpetuate the family.
The wish for children, says Pliss, apart from religious and moral motives, is rooted in the
instinct of the self preservation of mankind. In general it belongs to the most urgent wishes of
individuals, races and peoples and finds its expression in all immense richness of forms. There
is immense evidence to support this statement.

The absence of children in a family casts gloom over the unfortunate parents and sometimes
causes domestic feuds and psychological in-equilibrium. The urge to have a child is said to be
strong in the mother but in the father also it is no less developed. His desire to transmit his name
and property to posterity, the need for help in old age inspire him to have an offspring.

(ii) Sexual urge:

Secondly, there is the need for sexual satisfaction. This need motivates man to seek a recognised
basis for its satisfaction to find some safeguard against the precariousness of unlimited
competition. The consequence of the sexual act is the family.

(iii) Economic needs:

Thirdly, the economic needs lead man and woman to combine into a family. The woman fulfills
functions within the household, while the man undertakes functions outside. Both co-operating
with each other lead a happy family life.

Besides these three needs of reproduction, sexual satisfaction and economy, there are also other
reasons and urges on account of which people marry. To have a partner in life, to share lifes
joys and sorrows, to get love and affection, tenderness and devotion, a man is led to marry and
thereby establish a family.

From all this it may be concluded that family did not come into existence all of a sudden at a
particular date but it emerged as soon as the above mentioned needs were felt by mankind. Its
origin cannot be explained on an instinctive basis, it must be recognised as a cultural product.

If we are to speak of the origin of family, we can speak only in terms of its evolution consisting
of its transformation from a small self-sufficient society to a specialized institution within a
gradually enlarging society.

According to Morgan, the family has passed through five stages:

(i) Consanguine Family: In this stage of family, marriage between blood relations was not
(ii) Punalaunt Family: In this stage restrictions were imposed on incestuous marriage. But sex
relationships among different persons were not definite.
(iii) Syndasmian Family: In this stage one man married one woman but the sex relationships of
the woman married into the family were not clearly defined and certain.
(iv) Patriarchal Family: In this stage mans ascendancy was established. He could marry many
women and have sexual relationships with them.
(v) Monogamous Family: This is the present state of the family where one man marries one
woman at one time.

It is difficult to believe that there has been evolution of the family in the same sequence of stages
in all societies. Historical facts do not support Morgans theory. Linton remarks. Societies have
not followed a single consistent line of evolution, but a multitude of diverging lines2.

2. Linton. R., The study of man, p. 147.

Chapter 7

Change in Family Structure and Family Functions

The structure of the families present in this modern era can be said to be significantly different
from the structures of primitive families or any middle aged family. The major structural change
in the family structure has been seen in the past hundred years. This paper will help us to
understand the topic by referring to particular points which will tell us about the ways in which
family structure has changed.

Family Size Has Decreased: It is no secret that the twelve child families of the last century are
rare today. The birth rate has been falling in from the past deveral years. But the question is why
has overall family size declined?. contraceptive devices have provided the means but not the
motive. Contraceptives are not the cause of smaller family any more than ropes are the cause of
suicides. The shift from illiterate agricultural society to literate industrial society has changed
children from an economic asset to an expensive burden. At present, the traditional idea that
raising a large family is a noble service to society is rapidly being replaced by the idea that
bearing many children is an act of a irresponsible self indulgence. Changing technology,
changing economics and changing values are all involved in the change in family size.

Single Parent Families Have Increased: Throughout most of the western history, children
remained in the custody of father in those few families broken by separation rather than death.
Within the past century the idea that children of separated parents belonged with the mother
gained an acceptance that was seldom questioned. Looking at America, statistically, of all the
families with children one parent families increased from 11 percent in 1971 to 21 percent in
1981. At present, 20 percent of todays children are living in a single parent household, while
todays child has a 50:50 chance of living in a single parent household at sometime before the
age of 18.3

Unmarried Parenthood Has Increased: Over the past few years, the number of babies born out of
wedlock has increased. There is bigger number of babies available in context of their birth from

3. U.S. bureau of the census, 1982a.

a womb of an unmarried teenager. Also there is an increasing trend of single person household.
Because of varies issues related to unwillingness to marry, the trend is witnessing an inclined

The Dual Career Household Has Become Common: For some years, many wives have worked,
but few had their careers. Most working wives viewed their job as temporary, supplemented or
supportive, and subordinate to their husbands careers. Several studies have concluded that
working wives are much more satisfied when compared to housewives. But the national
commission on working women reports that the average women worker is a lonely person in a
dead-end job, seething with frustration over her lot. No matter what, the fact is that the structure
of the family is getting affected by this change in a silent matter. Working of women is somehow
affecting the size and need of a family. One study have found out that a majority of a dual career
couples were either childless or past child rearing age. Dual career household with children often
have to employ domestic help for the nurturing of child which may affect negatively to the child
in terms of his or her mental, emotional, and even physical capacity. To avoid this problem, the
common solution adopted by these couples is to commute to the houses while working which
also affect their productivity in their work. Over all, we can easily conclude that this
comparatively new trend has affected the working of the concerned households.

The Status of Divorce Has Changed: There are several reasons because of which the rate of
divorce have increased. The decline of set of uniform sex role expectations increases the
likelihood that a husband hand a wife may disagree about their rights and duties.the increasing
specialization, individuation, and mobility of modern life together with our rapid rate of social
change makes it less likely that a couple will share the same tastes and values for their lifetime.
Also the way in which womens dependence on men have decreased has lead to affect the rate
of divorce. Now, a women is not helpless but are rather self sufficient to pull their lives and
hence are not getting oppressed by men in the way they used to get in the past. In fact, divorce
has become quiet common and socially acceptable with no longer branded as moral lepers or
social outcasts. We can easily say that this has changed the way in which a common person looks
at the structure of a family. Now, the structure is not that rigid as it was in the past.

Structure and Functions are two aspects of same thing. Change in one is both the cause and the
effect in the other. In fact, change is an unchangeable law of nature. Family is not an exception
to this universal law. Besides, family also responds to the changes in society. With the change of
time a number of changes are also introduced both in the structure and functions of family.
Different internal and external forces have acted upon family which introduces radical changes
in the functions of family. So now we will try to explore the way in which the functions of the
family have changed over these years.

The Changing Functions of Family

(1) Changes in the functions of sexual regulation:

Satisfaction of sex needs is one of the most essential functions of family. Though much changes
are not introduced in this important function still some changes are marked. Some relaxation is
marked in this function of family.

As a result pre-marital and extra marital relations are increasing. Number of prostitution centers,
dance bar etc. are also increasing. Marriage are made in temples and in court at many times
without parental permission. Modern family fails to exercise its traditional control in regulating
sexual behavior of its members.

(2) Changes in the reproductive functions of family:

In traditional societys reproductive functions was one of the most important essential functions
of family. But with the change of time this function of family is also affected to certain extent. At
present a child is born in hospitals and in clinics. With the development of science and
technology particularly with the development of genetic engineering test tube babies are born
which greatly affects the reproductive functions of family. Birth of more number of children are

(3) Changes in the child rearing functions:

A great deal of changes are marked in the child rearing functions of family. These functions of
the family have been shifted to certain external agencies such as hospitals, maternity home,
Anganbadi Kendra nurseries etc. working women at present prefer to send their children to these
agencies. As a result children are debarred from family affection and ties.

(4) Changes in the protective functions of family:
In ancient times family used to protect its members against all odds. It is primary duty of family
to provide security and protection to old, aged, invalid diseased, handicapped etc. But now a
days these important function of family has been taken over by other specialised agencies such
as hospital, clinics, old age home etc. Day by day these functions of family has been gradually
squeezed. Hence a lot of change occurred in the protective functions of family.

(5) Changes in the Socialization function of family:

In ancient times family plays a vital role in the process of socialization of the child. Human child
became a human being living in direct and personal care of family members. As a result the child
attains a full- fledged personality. But a lot of change occur in the socialization functions of
family. In modern times family plays very less role in socializing its children. Some of the
socialization functions of family now is being performed by many other specialized agencies
such as school, college etc.

(6) Changes in the educative functions of family:

Traditional family performs a number of educational functions for its members. It was the first
school for children. He learns his primary education and some occupational education from
family. But in present day the role of family in education has declined a lot. School, College,
Universities and technical institutions take the place of family and teachers became substitute to
parents. Besides it is not possible to acquire modern education from family. Hence a lot of
change occurs in the educative functions of family.

(7) Changes in the economic functions of family:

In ancient times family was the main centre of production, consumption and distribution. It
produces almost everything as per the need of its members. But at present family remain only a
consumption unit than a centre of production. Most of its economic functions are being
performed by the factory or industrial units. Industry fulfills the needs of family. Family
members now prefer to work in offices, industries than to work in agriculture. As a result
economic importance of family declined manifold.

(8) Changes in health related functions:
In ancient times family plays an important role in providing treatment to its diseased members
and in taking care of the health of its members. But now this role of family has been performed
by health centers, clinics etc. As a result a number of changes occurred in the health related
functions of family.

(9) Changes in religious functions of family:

In traditional society family was the centre of worship and religious activities. But in modern
times this religious functions of family have also undergone a great change. People are becoming
secular in their attitude and outlook and secularism became the ideal of family: Religious
practices and festivals lost their traditional importance. As a result a great change is marked in
the religious functions of family.

(10) Changes in the social functions of family:

Traditional family act as an important agency of social control. It exercises a direct control over
its members as a result they became good human being. But in modern times this functions of
family has sharply declined. It fails to exercise the same authoritative control over its members.
Because of this family became disorganized. It became no more a custodian of culture.

No doubt changes have occurred in all the functions of family but it is not completely devoid of
these functions. Family is still continue to perform these functions of course with some
modifications and is persisting as one of the most important social institutions. That is why T.B.
Botomore is right when he remarked that Family cannot avoid its functions relating to
satisfaction of sexual need, reproduction, protection and care of children and
establishments of household life.

Chapter 8

Future of the Family

Our ideas about what constitutes a normal family have changed a lot since the 1960s, and
theres no reason to believe theyll stop changing. How weird could things get? Here are nine
different ideas about the future of the family.

No rigid definition exists for the family, and theres no sense trying to come up with one. Its a
fluid concept, one that means different things to different people and at different times. Indeed,
our sense of the family as a concept has changed over time, it and will continue to do so well into
the future.

At the same time, however, families are a microcosm of society. This puts them in a unique and
challenging position; they are simultaneously the vanguard of social change, and often the target
of moral outrage. For instance, anti-miscegenation laws were only finally removed from all U.S.
states as late as 1967, while same-sex marriage only became legal across the U.S. last month (by
comparison, Canada has allowed same-sex marriage since 2005). Whats more, we no longer talk
about broken homes, nor do we speak disparagingly about test tube babies (which we refer
to today as in vitro fertilization).

Looking ahead to the future, families will continue to change and adapt according to cultural,
socioeconomic and technological factors. Heres what to expect.

Multiple Family Households: Statistics show that multi-generational families are on the rise,
mostly because housing and other things are getting so expensive. Likewise, two or more family
groups may wind up deciding to live together in a single home, to save money. (Keep in mind
that families and households are two distinct things.)

And unrelated families sharing a home makes sense for all kind of reasonsand not just soaring
rents. Sure, housing costs in many large urban areas are becoming increasingly untenable,
and families are finding it difficult to live on their own. But also, as the old saying goes, it takes
a village to raise a child; multiple families in a single household can share caring dutiesa

benefit to single parents or those who have to do shift work. Its also worth pointing out that the
partners in these families could remain exclusive to each other, or engage in polyamorous

Extreme Multi-generational Families: The onset of radical life extension is set to have a
profound effect on family structure and intra-family dynamics. Eventually, humans will start to
live well into their hundreds, and theyll be as vibrant and healthy as when they were half their
age or even younger. Some elderly people may even choose to have offspring during their later
years, which should result in some interesting and novel scenarios.

Gender Fluidity in the Family: We are progressively moving towards a post-gendered society
and accordingly, the role of the family as a means to uphold traditional gender roles is
gradually starting to dissipate.
As a social construct, gender is often reinforced by socialization and modeling within the family
environmentbut that could be changing, fast. As gender fluidity becomes more common, you
could see families become mechanisms to support gender exploration and transition, rather than
providing resistance.

Clone Families: Assuming that human cloning can eventually be made safe and reliable, the
publics misgivings about this potential reproductive practice will probably fade. And this could
lead to families in which offspring are the clones of a parental donor, or some other donor such
as a grandparent, a friendor a celebrity.
In the future, parents could raise either one or more clones of themselves, including clones
derived from each partner. Depending on the scenario, siblings could be genetic duplicates of
each other or their parent or both. Over time, clones could become multi-generational, so-called
clonal lines.

Robotic and Artificially Intelligent Caregivers: Films like Spike Jonzes Her demonstrate the
potential for intimate relationships between humans and artificial intelligence. But theres no
reason to believe that children from infanthood through to adolescence wont form similar
bonds with machines, especially if these systems are specifically programmed for that purpose.

Future children will interact with their surrogate AI parents any number of ways. Using
computers, hand-held devices, or some futuristic interface, theyll be supervised, taught how to
read and do math, play games, and be entertained. A tidy summary of the days events will be
sent to the parents, along with a progress report. Eventually, human caregivers could be replaced
outright by machines, but itll be some time yet before we see robot nannies in our households.

Space Colonist Families: By mid-century, we should have a colonial presence on Mars, and
possibly the Moon. These habitats will likely be small and rudimentary, but its not unreasonable
to assume that some colonists will want to bring their families along, or start new ones.
In fact, there is a news trending currently that UAE has announced tobe the first to set up a CITY
on Mars. Stunning images reveal plans for a colony on the red planet by 2117.

Post-Cryonic Families: Over a dozen families have signed up at Alcor Life Extension
Foundation, the worlds leading cryonics facility. We have no idea if people frozen in vats of
liquid nitrogen will ever be brought back to life, but the possibility raises some interesting

Mind-linked Families: Advances in neuroscience could irrevocably change the family unit as we
know it today. Imagine a family connected via mind-to-mind communication. It would be like
Wachowskis Sense8 TV series in which the characters are mentally and emotionally connected,
capable of communicating, sensing, and using each others knowledge, skills, and language.
Mind-melded families would be greater than the sum of its parts. Of course, an assembly of
interconnected minds need not be limited to just family members; friends and colleagues could
join in as well, leading to highly interconnected and intimate communities that would exhibit
very hive-like behavior. This could very well represent the future family.

A recent breakthrough by researchers at the Center for Neuroengineering at Duke University

shows this future may be close than we think. In their experiment, the researchers connected the
brains of monkeys with electrodes, allowing them to coordinate their thoughts to carry out basic
tasks, like pattern recognition and moving a robotic limb. Remarkably, similar work has even
been done in humans, though less invasively.

Virtual Families: Imagine a mind-uploaded family, or a family comprised of emulated brains that
reside and interact within a powerful supercomputer. These virtual beings would live as avatars
within elaborate simulated environments. But because the constraints of the analog world wont
apply in cyberspace (whether these constraints be biological or physical), virtual families may
not have the same needs or motivations for staying together as a single, related unit.

Depending on the resources available, these digital families could consist of duplicates that run
into the hundreds or thousands of copied individuals. Many of these emulated brains could go on
to form new and independent family units. Whats more, new virtual minds born as babies may
become scarce as well-established and successful emulated brains dominate. The concept of the
family, at least we know it, could very well come to an end.

Chapter 9
Major Findings of the Study
The research and the study done while making of this paper has made possible various findings
which are listed below:

Firstly, the study has helped to understand the concept of Family. Family is one of the most
important primary group of which we are a member. Various definitions given by different
sociologists have disentangled the broad and vague meaning of the term Family. And secondly,
the research has given a detailed description of how the need for a family arose in the past and
how the concept originated.

There were few needs such as the need of reproduction, sexual satisfaction and economy which
played the basic part in the origin of the conept of family. There are also other reasons and urges
on account of which people marry or started their family. To have a partner in life, to share lifes
joys and sorrows, to get love and affection, tenderness and devotion, a man is led to marry and
thereby establish a family.

From all this it may be concluded that family did not come into existence all of a sudden at a
particular date but it emerged as soon as the above mentioned needs were felt by mankind. Its
origin cannot be explained on an instinctive basis, it must be recognised as a cultural product.

Also while exploring the topic of changing family structures and family functions, various
interesting points are highlighted:

Family Size Has Decreased

Single Parent Families Have Increased

Unmarried Parenthood Has Increased

The Dual Career Household Has Become Common

The Status of Divorce Has Changed

When it comes to the future of the families, one might be quite comfortable in predicting some
aspects which will going to be the features of the families in future. It is a probability that we
might see multiple family households and multi-generational families in future.

Also gender fluidity can be expected in future. The science and technologies are capable of
creating cloned families, post cryonic identities, and even virtual families in future.

When it comes to the functions of the family, the way in which a family protects, educates,
socializes, or imparts values to its member have also changed in these years.

There are many other interesting facts highlighted in the paper. Also it is being cleared by the
study that the change in the structure and the functions of the family is universal and is
constantly happening with time. According to the law of nature, only the changes are permanent.
And hence, it can be said that these changes in functions and structure of family will keep
happening even in the future.


While concluding the subject matter of this paper, we can understand the way in which the
concept of family started to evolve and also the way in which the said concept is having its place
in todays modern era.

We can say that the structure of the family and also its functions have changed over these years.
Including the size of an average family, the forms in which the family is available, composition
of family members, et cetera, have changed and these things will keep changing or evolving as
per the law of nature. The way in which the concept of joint family is turning into the nuclear
one is interesting to explore.

We can easily conclude that this change in family structure and functions is not new but rather
very old for us. As the law of nature supports the view that nothing is permanent, the concept of
family has also changed over the eras. The ways in which family has supported its members,
took care of its members, or provided education to its members have also changed. And when it
comes to the individuals perception of its family, it can also be concluded to have been changed.
We can even predict, though not precisely, the way in which the concept of family, taking its
structure and functions under the study, is going to be in future.

While reading this paper, one may understand the way family originated i.e. what made the
concept of family to get evolved. The structure pattern of any family in primitive times is very
much different than that at present time. But we should also acknowledge the fact that even in
earlier times, family used to act according to the expectations of its members. This thing is quiet
similar in present scenario. Interestingly, even after so many changes in the structure and
functions of family, the family is still acting according to the expectations of its members. This
thing can be justified by admitting that even our expectations from our family have changed.

We can also conclude that eventually we the humans have evolved the concept and the
concerned structure of the family according to our changing needs. We have ,made our societal
structure as per our convenience and will keep doing so in future. Thus we should not interfere
with this course, in order to allow the smooth functioning of our society which covers the
concept of family.


1. C.N. Shankar Rao, Sociology: Principles of Sociology with an Introduction to Social

2. Paul B. Horton & Chester L. Hunt, Sociology
3. Vidya Bhushan & D.R.Sachdeva, An Introduction to Sociology

4. http://www.yourarticlelibrary.com/family/family-definition-characteristics-and-
5. http://www.sociologydiscussion.com/essay/origin-of-family-legendary-accounts-and-
6. http://www.yourarticlelibrary.com/family/the-changing-functions-of-family-1106-
7. https://io9.gizmodo.com/9-different-visions-of-what-families-will-look-like-50-


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