The Family : A Historical Review

2353 Words Oct 26th, 2015 10 Pages
The Family: A Historical Review

1.1 Introduction
The family is an important social institution. The concept of family is found in every known society (Murdock, 1949:1). Anthropologists classify family as individuals related by blood and marriage (Haviland 1996:230); nevertheless there remains no universal definition of the family. The forms a family might take (nuclear or extended, polygamous or monogamous) vary across cultures and time (Murdock, 1949:1). It performs six universal functions to satisfy the needs of its members, such as, reproduction, protection, socialization, regulation of sexual behaviour, attention and companionship, and providing social status (Ogburn & Tibbits, 1934).
The definition of the family often determines its members’ rights and obligations. The structure of the family and patterns within it depicts the power distribution. Therefore, Societies with a patriarchal family system have men dominate the decision-making process and wield authority over wives and children. In contrast, a matriarchal family structure grants the women the power to make decisions and have the hierarchal position in the family over the husbands and children. Moreover, in an egalitarian family structure, both the male and the female share the decision-making authority and power.
Family as an institution have been to be undergoing some ‘crisis’, and changes in its structure and functions due to urbanization and industrialization (parson, 1955:3-4). However, the crisis of…
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