Family || Social Institutions || Bcis Notes

Family || Social Institutions || Bcis Notes


The word ’Family’ derived from the Latin word ‘Famulus’ meaning Servant, Extending this word, what we understand is that when people act as Servant to each other(ready to help in every situation).

  • It is the most important primary group in society.
  • It is the simplest and most elementary form of society.
  • It is the most basic of all social groupings.
  • It is the first and the most immediate social environment where a child is exposed. It is an outstanding primary group, be­cause, it is in the family that the child develops its basic attitudes.

From the moment of birth to the moment of death it exerts a constant influence.

It as an institution is universal. It is the most pervasive and the most permanent of all social institutions. It is a small group consisting ordinarily of a father, mother, one or more children, and sometimes near or distant relatives.

It is the most important primary group in society. It survives through social relationships, generally consist of husband-wife and their children.

A. Definitions by renowned sociologists:

  • M.F. Nimkoff says that “It is a more or less durable association of husband and wife with or without a child, or of a man or woman alone, with children”.
  • Eliot and Merrill, Family is “The biological social unit composed of husband, wife, and children”.
  • Maclver, Family is “a group defined by sex relationship sufficiently precise and enduring to provide for the procreation and upbringing of children ”.
  • Burgess and Locke, “It is a group of persons united by ties of marriage, blood or adoption constituting a single household interacting and intercommunicating with each other in their respective social roles of husband and wife, father and mother, son and daughter, brother and sister, creating a common culture”.

B. Natures of Family


  • There is no human society in which some form of the family does not appear. Malinowski writes the typical family a group consisting of a mother, father, and their progeny is found in all communities, savages, barbarians, and civilized. The irresistible sex need, the urge for reproduction, and the common economic needs have contributed to this universality.
    Emotional basis: It is grounded in emotions and sentiments. It is based on our impulses of mating, procreation, maternal devotion, fraternal love, and parental care. It is built upon sentiments of love, affection, sympathy, cooperation, and friendship.


  • Size may be small or big(It ranges from two to more members It is the smallest social unit.

Formative influence:

  • The family trains and educates the child. It shapes the personality and molds the character of its members. It emotionally conditions the child.

Vital position/Role to maintain social structure (Nucleus):

  • The family is the nucleus of all other social organizations. The whole social structure is built of family units.

Responsibility of the members:

  • The members have certain responsibilities, duties, and obligations. Maclver points out that in times of crisis men may work and fight and die for their country but they toil(work hard even in unpleasant situations) for their families all their lives.

Social regulation:

The family is guarded both by social taboos and by legal regulations. Society takes precaution(prevent) to safeguard this organization from any possible breakdown

C. The gist made by various sociologists in the family is that it is a traditionally established and basic social institution.

  • Where a couple has one or more than one child.
  • More than one couple and their children can also be found.
  • Sometimes there may not be children in Families.
  • Members generally share for single habited, equal ownership of property, rights, and duties.
  • Size of family, nature of society and culture, customs values, and beliefs also affect in determining the role of individuals.
  • Besides economic and social, it is regarded as a biological unit too, which allows husband and wife to have a sexual relationship and produce children.
  • Lineage Transformation, Norms and culture, and ownership of property are determined as per the family structure.

D. Characteristics :

  • Permanent Relationship between husband and wife.
  • Permanent and socially approved sexual relationship.
  • Universality
  • A system of Nomenclature
  • Common Habitat
  • Social and Economic Provision
  • Fixed Size
  • Mutual awareness
  • It is a form of marriage
  • It is a primary Group of Society

E. Types :

Forms-based on Number

  • Nuclear Family (Ekal Paribar or Kanriya Pariwar)
  • Joint Family (Sanyukta Pariwar)
  • Extended family ( Bhriyat Pariwar)

Forms-based on Authority, Lineage, and resident

  • Patriarchal (PitriSatatmak Pariwar)
  • Matriarchal (MatriSatmak Pariwar)

Forms-based on Marriage

  • Monogamous Family (Ek Bibyat Pariwar)
  • Polygamous Family (Bahu Bibayat Pariwar)

Nuclear Family:

  • It is the modern form (often found in modern industrial Society)
  • Small in size (Husband, wife & their unmarried children reside)
  • Evolved when people started participating significantly in occupations besides agriculture like (laboring, employment, and other occupation in developed societies)
  • Sometimes due to the conflicts, dissents, and control in join families, this family evolved.
  • Since people Started employing in distant places they began to take their family members together with them.
  • This kind of family contributes to promoting individualism and the Status of women
  • The role of Father is not always superior in this family.
  • In such families, both couples are employed and earn themselves.
  • This kind contributed negatively to the elderly population.

Joint Family

  • It consists of people generally of 3 generations, Grandparents, uncle, aunties, unmarried sisters, father’s sister, and children. (share a common kitchen)
  • The role of males in the decision-making process is dominant.
  • Income is spent for collective benefit.
  • The status of women is considerably weaker.
  • These kinds of families are common in the rural areas of Nepal.
  • Due to the development of opportunity in education, industrialization, the impact of westernization, new type of occupation and profession, freedom in occupation breakdown the joint family.

Extended Family:

  • It is the most ancient type of family which evolved along with the evolution of human beings.
  • The total generation and number of people cannot be fixed exactly.
  • However, the families of both sides i.e. husband and wife live together.
  • Thus the family with the kin of both father and mother is the extended family.
  • Generally, a residence may be separated but the kitchen is common.
  • All have equal ownership of property.
  • Not common in present society (In the initial phase of hunting and gathering and agricultural societies this kind of family was common everywhere).
  • In the Nepalese context, some of the features of the extended family can be seen in Tharu and Chepangs in Terai.

Forms-based on Authority:


  • The role of the male in patriarchal families is more dominant.
  • Lineage transfer in this family is as per the lineage of the father, which is also called patrilineage.
  • The surname of a woman after her marriage is changed according to her husband.
  • More importance is given to males in the decision-making process of the family.
  • The role of a father is higher than the mother while purchasing land or house, cattle, and responsibility to the schooling of children.
  • At present, the situation of women in the patriarchal families in Nepal has been improved due to the incensement of women’s rights, (property rights, political reservation, especial priority on employment, etc.
  • After marriage girls live in their husband’s home by leaving their parent’s home.


  • The role of females in Matriarchal society is more dominant.
  • Mothers have heights over entire household activities- Decision-making rights are also rendered to the chief women of the family.
  • The lineage and surname transfer of children as a mother,
    Also called a Matrilineal family.
  • Found in Labaradar Indians, Trobriand Islanders, The American Iroquois, Khasi Tribal in India.

F. Rule of Descent

Descent refers to the system by which members of a society trace kinship over generations. Here descent refers to the social recognition of the biological relationship that exists between individuals.

The rule of Descent establishes for every individual a network of social positions in which he participates. At the same time, the rule of descent defines some rights of inheritance.

There is three basic rule of Descent:

  • Patriarchal Descent: According to this rule Descent is traced through Father or Male’s line. Children are related to others only through fathers, so the father passes their property on to their sons.
  • Matrilineal Descent: This descent of an individual is traced through mother or female exclusively. Mother pass property to their Daughters
  • Bilateral Descent: It is the system tracing kinship through both men and women. In some societies, both father and mother’s side get equal importance. The Nuclear family is an example of Bilateral kinship.

G. Functions :

The biological function 

  • Reproduction
  • Fulfillment of Sexual Desire
  • Psychological Function
  • Racial Regulation

Economic Function

  • Division of Labor
  • Regulation of daily Economic activities/protection of property

The socio-cultural function 

  • Birth and Death Rituals
  • Socialization
  • Social Control
  • Maintenance of social Status.
  • Educational function
  • Recreational function
  • Provision of Residence

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