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How to reference a movie in an essay, how to write a position paper, how do you spell, is gen z actually lazy this admission consultant doesn’t think so, what is family definition essay samples.

Lesley J. Vos

The given prompt: Beyond blood relations, how has the concept of family evolved in contemporary culture?

In traditional terms, a family often conjured images of a group connected by the intricate web of blood relations: parents, siblings, and extended kin. However, as the hands of time have ticked forward, the idea of family has undergone a significant evolution, particularly in contemporary culture.

In today’s world, the essence of family is not restricted solely to genetic ties. Instead, it blossoms in the spaces of shared experiences, mutual care, love, and most importantly, genuine connection. The idea that “blood is thicker than water” has been both challenged and redefined as people create familial bonds with those they aren’t biologically related to.

With the rise in diverse living situations, it’s common to find families where members aren’t linked by DNA. Adoptive families are a testament to the idea that the foundations of family go beyond genes. Here, connections are forged with love, understanding, and a mutual commitment to each other’s well-being. Similarly, stepfamilies and blended families break the mold of the traditional family unit, proving that genuine relationships can flourish in spaces beyond blood ties.

Moreover, the concept of “chosen families” has gained prominence, especially within communities that value deep-rooted friendships and bonds. In many instances, individuals, due to various reasons, may become estranged from their biological families. In the void that this creates, they often find solace, support, and a sense of belonging with friends or mentors, essentially building a family by choice, not by birth.

Another dimension of the evolving family concept is the recognition and acceptance of families with same-sex parents. As societies grow more inclusive, the narrative around family has expanded to honor and celebrate diverse family structures. In these families, just as in any other, love, care, and shared responsibilities define the bond.

Cultural exchanges, travel, and global communication have also played a role in reshaping the family’s notion. In an interconnected world, individuals from different corners of the globe meet, bond, and form families, blending cultures, traditions, and values. These intercultural families are beautiful tapestries of shared stories and united dreams.

However, with this expanded understanding of family, contemporary culture also brings challenges. The acceptance of diverse family structures isn’t universal, and many face societal judgment. It underscores the importance of broadening perspectives and understanding that at the core of every family, irrespective of its structure, lie the universal values of love, support, and commitment.

In essence, the definition of family in today’s world is fluid, reflecting the cultural, societal, and individual shifts of our times. While blood relations will always hold significance, the boundaries of family have extended, warmly embracing all forms of genuine connection and mutual care.

As we navigate the complexities of modern life, these evolved family structures offer comfort, reminding us that family is less about who we share our genes with and more about who we share our lives with. In the heartbeats of these diverse families, we find the timeless rhythms of love, care, and belonging.

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How Do You Define ‘Family’?

definition essay about family

By Michael Gonchar

  • Feb. 8, 2019

Is your definition of a “normal family” two married parents and their biological children living together under one roof? If not, what do you think a “family” is — or can be? Who is your family?

What do you think holds a family together? Is it biological relationships? Love and support? Sharing the same home?

In “ What’s a ‘Normal’ Family, Anyway? ” Claire Haug writes:

It’s a typical Thursday night and my family is gathered in the kitchen of my childhood home. There’s me, freshly returned from college, helping my mom set the table; my half brother, also home on break, debating our father about politics; and my half siblings’ mother chiding my half sister for Snapchatting with her high school friends. If it took you a minute to process the relationships I just described, don’t worry — you are far from the only one. I’ll give my best simplified description of our family: my mother, my half siblings’ mother and our father were friends living in the Bay Area in the ’90s. At the time, both women were in their 30s and wanted to have children — but neither had a long-term partner. My father, a gay man and also partnerless, agreed to be their donor and, if things worked out, involved in their children’s lives. My brother was born in March 1997, followed by me in October of the same year, and my half sister came along three years later. As a child I got strange looks when I told people that my brother was seven months older than me. But I just thought of us as a family that happened to live in three separate households. Even growing up in Berkeley, Calif., which is generally known for being culturally diverse and politically progressive, my family structure has struck people as unconventional. I’ve had trouble explaining it to just about everyone, including friends I’ve known for years and financial aid administrators. It seems hard for people to get that you can have a family with parents who were never married, and that some women might choose to conceive and raise a child without a husband. But unconventional families like mine are becoming increasingly common: the number of two-parent households has been in steady decline since the 1960s, dropping from 87 percent of households in 1960 to 69 percent in 2014 , according to the Pew Research Center. The report notes that “the declining share of children living in what is often deemed a ‘traditional’ family has been largely supplanted by the rising shares of children living with single or cohabiting parents.”

She continues:

Family should be, above all else, about love — I hope we can all agree on that. Perhaps it’s time for us to prioritize finding love through community and friendships in the same way many of us prioritize finding romantic love. Maybe one day that will be conventional.

Students, read the entire article, then tell us:

— What does “family” mean to you? Do you count only those bound to you by blood or legal ties, or do friends or other kinds of communities also fill some of the traditional role of family for you?

— Who is your family, however you define that word? What role does your family play in your life in general?

— Ms. Haug writes:

But can anyone really say their experience of family was perfect? My parents have shown me that friendships can be just as important as romantic relationships, and that it’s possible to live a fulfilling life without defining your life by a single long-term relationship. How could that be bad?

Do you agree? Do you think friendships can be just as important as romantic relationships? Should having a single long-term relationship be the universal goal for living a fulfilling life?

— Does society need a more expansive definition of “family,” in your opinion? Why or why not?

Students 13 and older are invited to comment. All comments are moderated by the Learning Network staff, but please keep in mind that once your comment is accepted, it will be made public.

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  • Last Updated: Jun 17, 2023

Family has always been a cornerstone of human civilization, serving a crucial role in defining our relationships, interactions, and identity. This article delves into the sociological and anthropological understanding of ‘family,’ supplemented by case studies from various cultures.

What is Family in Anthropology & Sociology

Definition of Family

  • A family is commonly understood as a group of individuals related by consanguinity (blood relation), affinity (marriage), or co-residence.
  • This simplistic view, however, is expanded and complicated when examined from sociological and anthropological perspectives, which take into account the vast cultural diversity and dynamism that characterize human societies.

Origin of Family

The origins of the family as a social institution are deeply entwined with human evolution, the development of social structures, and the rise of agricultural societies. However, it’s important to note that our understanding of the emergence of the family institution is largely speculative, based on anthropological, archaeological, and historical data.

Family in Prehistoric Societies

  • Hunter-Gatherer Societies : In early hunter-gatherer societies, it’s thought that individuals lived in small groups based on kinship, due to the shared responsibilities of survival. It is likely that these groups consisted of families in the most basic sense, bound by shared genetics and mutual dependence.
  • Development of Agriculture : The advent of agriculture around 10,000 BCE fundamentally transformed human social structures. With the ability to produce food and remain in one place, communities grew larger and more complex, leading to the development of more defined family structures. The family unit became vital for labor division, property ownership, and inheritance practices.

Emergence of the Nuclear Family

The nuclear family, consisting of two parents and their children, is often considered the ‘traditional’ family structure in many societies, particularly in the West. Its development is attributed to several key historical shifts:

  • Industrial Revolution : The Industrial Revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries further solidified the nuclear family structure. Industrialization led to increased urbanization, with families moving to cities for work. This often meant leaving the extended family behind, leading to a focus on the immediate, nuclear family.
  • Modernization and Changing Social Norms : Over the 19th and 20th centuries, societal changes such as increased mobility, reduced fertility, and changing gender roles further reinforced the nuclear family model. This was particularly prevalent in Western societies.

Evolution of the Family Institution

However, the family as an institution has continued to evolve and diversify. In many cultures, extended families, including grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins, remain the norm. In recent decades, we’ve also seen an increase in single-parent families, same-sex families, and non-marital cohabitation.

Overall, the institution of family emerged out of practical necessity, cultural evolution, and social transformations. It continues to adapt to changing societal norms, illustrating the dynamic nature of human social organization.

Family from an Anthropological Perspective

Anthropologists study the human species in terms of biological, social, and cultural aspects. Hence, their understanding of family is largely based on kinship and descent patterns, along with the associated social norms.

  • The Eskimo system (common in Western cultures) focuses on the nuclear family.
  • The Hawaiian system recognizes only generational differences, without distinguishing between cousins and siblings.
  • The Sudanese system is highly detailed, with specific terms for each family member (Holy, 1996) .
  • Descent Patterns : Anthropologists also study whether societies follow matrilineal, patrilineal, or bilateral descent, i.e., tracing lineage through the mother, father, or both parents respectively (Parkin, 1997) .

Case Studies

  • The Nayar of India : The Nayar, a matrilineal society in Kerala, India, have an unusual family structure, where women can have multiple partners, and lineage is traced through the mother. Children belong to their mother’s family, and men have minimal roles in their biological children’s lives (Gough, 1961) .
  • The Mosuo of China : This is another matrilineal society where women head the family, and men are only ‘visiting husbands.’ This structure has resulted in what’s known as the ‘walking marriage’.
  • The Inuit of Arctic Canada : They follow the Eskimo kinship system, emphasizing nuclear families while recognizing more distant relatives. They place great importance on sharing resources within the family (Balikci, 1970) .

Family from a Sociological Perspective

Sociologists view family as a social institution performing specific functions in society. Their approach focuses on roles, relationships, and impacts on broader social structures.

  • Functionalism : This theory posits that families perform vital roles such as socialization, regulation of sexual behavior, and provision of social status. Talcott Parsons is a key proponent of this view.
  • Conflict Theory : This perspective, rooted in the work of Karl Marx, suggests that families can reflect and exacerbate social inequalities (Engels, 1884) .
  • Symbolic Interactionism : Here, focus is on interpersonal dynamics within the family, how individuals interpret their roles, and how these roles shape identity and behavior (LaRossa & Reitzes, 1993) .
  • American Nuclear Families : This case showcases the functionalist perspective, where families socialize children, regulate sexual activity, provide emotional support, and contribute to social order.
  • Victorian England Families : In these families, the conflict perspective is highlighted, with the patriarchal family structure mirroring and reinforcing class and gender inequalities (Engels, 1884) .
  • Gay and Lesbian Families in the U.S. : This case exemplifies symbolic interactionism, where individuals negotiate roles and meanings within their family structures, often challenging traditional family norms.

‘Family’ is a complex, multifaceted concept, shaped by diverse cultural, biological, and sociopolitical factors. Anthropologists and sociologists provide rich insights into how families are structured, function, and evolve, illuminating the fascinating tapestry of human social organization.

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Module 10: Marriage and Family

Defining family, learning outcomes.

  • Describe family as a social institution

Family is a key social institution in all societies, which makes it a cultural universal. Similarly, values and norms surrounding marriage are found all over the world in every culture, so marriage and family are both cultural universals. Statuses (i.e., wife, husband, partner, mom, dad, brother, sister, etc.) are created and sanctioned by societies. While marriage and family have historically been closely linked in U.S. culture, with marriages creating new families, their connection is becoming more complex, as illustrated by the opening vignette and in the subsequent data on cohabitation.

Sociologists are interested in the relationship between the institution of marriage and the institution of family because families are the most basic social unit upon which society is built, but also because marriage and family are linked to other social institutions such as the economy, government, and religion. So what is a family?  F amily  is a socially recognized group (usually joined by blood, marriage, cohabitation, or adoption) that forms an emotional connection among its members and that serves as an economic unit of society. Sociologists identify different types of families based on how one enters into them. A family of orientation refers to the family into which a person is born. A family of procreation describes one that is formed through marriage. These distinctions have cultural significance related to issues of lineage.

Marriage  is a legally recognized social contract between two people, traditionally based on a sexual relationship and implying a permanence of the union. Marriage is a cultural universal, and like family, it takes many forms.  Who  gets married,  what  the marriage means to the couple and to the society, why  people get married (i.e., economic reasons, political reasons, or for love), and  how  it occurs (i.e., wedding or other ceremony) vary widely within and between societies. In practicing cultural relativism, we should also consider variations, such as whether a legal union is required (think of “common law” marriage and its equivalents), or whether more than two people can be involved (consider poly gamy). Other variations on the definition of marriage might include whether spouses are of opposite sexes or the same sex, and how one of the traditional expectations of marriage–that children will be produced–is understood today.

Photo (a) shows a family walking with a dog on a beach. Photo (b) shows a child in a stroller with stuffed animals, balloons, and an LGBTQ flag being pushed by two men.

Figure 1.  The modern concept of family is far more encompassing than in past decades, which is evidenced in both laws (formal norms) and social control (both formal and informal). (Photo (a) courtesy Gareth Williams/flickr; photo (b) courtesy Guillaume Paumier/ Wikimedia Commons)

The sociological understanding of what constitutes a family can be explained by the paradigms of symbolic interactionism and functionalism. These two theories indicate that families are groups in which participants view themselves as family members and act accordingly. In other words, families are arrangements in which people come together to form a strong primary group connection and to maintain emotional ties with one another. Such families may include groups of close friends or teammates.

Chart "For children, growing diversity in family living arrangements." It compares the years 1960, 1980, and 2014, showing a decrease in family living arrangements to 46% (down from 73%) in the percentage of children living in a home with two parents in their first marriage. In 2014, 15% live with two parents in a remarriage, 7% with cohabiting parents (up from zero in 1960), 26% with a single parent (up from 9% in 1960), and 5% with no parent (up from 4% in 1960).

Figure 2. Family dynamics have shifted significantly in the past sixty years, with fewer children living in two-parent households.

In addition, the functionalist perspective views families as groups that perform vital roles for society—both internally (for the family itself) and externally (for society as a whole). Families provide for one another’s physical, emotional, and social well-being. Parents care for and socialize children. Later in life, adult children often care for elderly parents. While interactionism helps us understand the symbolic, subjective experience and meaning of belonging to a “family,” functionalism illuminates the many purposes of families and their roles in the maintenance of a balanced society (Parsons and Bales 1956).

Diverse Family Units

Irrespective of what form a family takes, it constitutes a basic social unit upon which societies are based, and can reflect other societal changes. For example, the bar graph shows how much the family structure has changed in a relatively short period of time. What trends do you see in the bar graph? What variables might help explain the increase in single parents between 1960 and 1980 and 2014? What variables might help explain the decrease in children living in two parent/first marriage families? Which theoretical perspectives can help explain this phenomenon?

People in the United States as a whole are somewhat divided when it comes to determining what does and what does not constitute a family. In a 2010 survey conducted by professors at the University of Indiana, nearly all participants (99.8 percent) agreed that a husband, wife, and children constitute a family. Ninety-two percent stated that a husband and a wife without children still constitute a family. The numbers drop for less traditional structures: unmarried couples with children (83 percent), unmarried couples without children (39.6 percent), gay male couples with children (64 percent), and gay male couples without children (33 percent) (Powell et al. 2010). This survey revealed that children tend to be the key indicator in establishing “family” status: the percentage of individuals who agreed that unmarried couples and gay couples constitute a family nearly doubled when children were added.

The study also revealed that 60 percent of U.S. respondents agreed that if you consider yourself a family, you are a family (a concept that reinforces an interactionist perspective) (Powell 2010). The government, however, is not so flexible in its definition of “family.” The U.S. Census Bureau defines a family as “a group of two people or more (one of whom is the householder) related by birth, marriage, or adoption and residing together” (U.S. Census Bureau 2010). While this structured definition can be used as a means to consistently track family-related patterns over several years, it excludes individuals such as cohabitating unmarried couples. Legality aside, sociologists would argue that the general concept of family is more diverse and less structured than in years past. Society has given more leeway to the design of a family making room for what works for its members (Jayson 2010).

Family is, indeed, a subjective concept, but it is a fairly objective fact that family (whatever one’s concept of it may be) is very important to people in the United States. In a 2010 survey by Pew Research Center in Washington, DC, 76 percent of adults surveyed stated that family is “the most important” element of their life—just one percent said it was “not important” (Pew Research Center 2010). It is also very important to society. President Ronald Reagan notably stated, “The family has always been the cornerstone of American society. Our families nurture, preserve, and pass on to each succeeding generation the values we share and cherish, values that are the foundation of our freedoms” (Lee 2009). While the design of the family may have changed in recent years, the fundamentals of emotional closeness and support are still present. Most responders to the Pew survey stated that their family today is at least as close (45 percent) or closer (40 percent) than the family with which they grew up (Pew Research Center 2010).

As you may have seen in the chapter on Aging and the Elderly, different generations have varying living situations and views on aging. The same goes for living situations with family. The Pew Research Center analyzed living situation of 40-year-olds from different generations. At that age, Millennials indicated that 45 percent of them were not living in a family of their own. In contrast, when Gen Xers and Baby Boomers were about 40 years old (around 2003 and 1987, respectively), an average of 33 percent of them lived outside of a family (Barroso 2020). The dynamic of nearly a 50-50 split between family/non-family for Millennials is very different from a two-third/one third split of Boomers and Gen X.

The data also show that women are having children later in life and that men are much less likely to live in a household with their own children. In 2019, 32 percent of Millennial men were living in a household with their children, compared to 41 percent of Gen X men in 2003 and 44 percent of Boomer men in 1987 (Barroso 2020). Again, the significant drop off in parenting roles likely has an impact on attitudes toward family.

First Families

Photos of President Trump with his family at his inauguration and of President Obama with his family in the White House.

Figure 2. First families. (a) President Trump with his wife, Melania, and five kids. (b) President Obama with his wife, Michelle, and kids Malia and Sasha.

When a political candidate runs for office in the United States, there is a lot of attention paid to the candidate’s family because this is thought to be a reflection of the candidate and the candidate’s values.

When former U.S. President Barack Obama ran for office, many questioned his Kenyan lineage through his father’s side, as well as his upbringing in Hawaii and  Indonesia, where his mother was doing anthropological work. His parents separated when he was young, and he was raised by his white mother. Michelle Obama, originally from the south side of Chicago, was educated at Princeton and Harvard, then held a prestigious position at the University of Chicago, which she left once her husband was elected. The former first couple married in 1992 and have two children who were born in 1998 and 2001.

President Donald Trump grew up in New York City (in Queens) to Fred, a real estate developer, and Mary Anne Trump. He was married and divorced twice, and had four children (three with Ivana Trump and one with Marla Maples) before marrying current First Lady Melania Trump, with whom he has a fifth child, Barron Trump. Both Ivana and Melania were models and were both born in Eastern Europe (Czechoslovakia and Slovenia respectively). Three marriages and five children make the First Family quite unique in U.S. Presidential history.

Think It Over

  • Think about family composition (i.e., makeup) from 1960 to 2014 using the bar graph above. Can you predict what the family structure will be like in 2030? What variables might influence family structure going forward?
  • According to research, what are people’s general thoughts on family in the United States? How do they view nontraditional family structures? How do you think these views might change in twenty years?
  • Modification, adaptation, and original content. Authored by : Sarah Hoiland for Lumen Learning. Provided by : Lumen Learning. License : CC BY: Attribution
  • Trump Family. Provided by : Wikipedia. Located at : . License : Public Domain: No Known Copyright
  • What is Marriage? What is a family?. Authored by : OpenStax CNX. Located at :[email protected]:_C0iCApg@6/What-Is-Marriage-What-Is-a-Family . License : CC BY: Attribution . License Terms : Download for free at[email protected]
  • Obama Family. Authored by : Pete Souza. Provided by : Wikipedia. Located at : . License : Public Domain: No Known Copyright
  • What is Marriage? What is a Family?. Provided by : OpenStax. Located at : . Project : Sociology 3e. License : CC BY: Attribution . License Terms : Access for free at
  • Graphic of the two-parent household in decline. Provided by : Pew Research Center. Located at : . License : All Rights Reserved

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definition essay about family

Expanding the definition of family to reflect our realities

definition essay about family

Associate Professor of Applied Human Sciences, Concordia University

definition essay about family

Disclosure statement

Shannon Hebblethwaite receives funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), the Fonds de Recherche du Québec - Société et Culture (FRQSC), the Fondation Luc Maurice, and TELUS Health.

Hilary Rose does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Concordia University provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation CA.

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The second Monday in February is Family Day in parts of Canada. Started in Alberta in 1990 , four additional provinces celebrate Family Day: British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Ontario and New Brunswick. (Other provinces have holidays reflecting their heritage.)

Québec is one of few jurisdictions that does not have a civic holiday in February, though the province has generous family leave policies .

This year, to coincide with the emphasis on family, Concordia University and the Vanier Institute of the Family are hosting a conference on families and family life on Feb. 20. The conference will explore some of the tensions and dichotomies embedded in families. For one, how do we define what family means?

definition essay about family

Expanding the definition of family

How we define family (and who gets to do that defining) is an important starting point for conversations on family life. Who’s in? Who’s out? Who actually counts as family? For some, family means married parents with children, or married heterosexual parents with children. For others, it may mean a chosen family, or a cohabiting couple with no children.

For our conference, we are using an adaptation of the Vanier Institute’s definition : a family consists of any combination of two or more people, bound together over time, by ties of mutual consent and/or birth, adoption or placement, and who take responsibility for various activities of daily living, including love.

Our research has identified the need to attend to extended families , including grandparents, aunts and uncles. It also includes the need to extend the definition of family to non-traditional family forms including LGBTQ2S+ families, chosen families, multi-generation families that include grandparents, single parents and people living alone.

It wasn’t until 2001 that Statistics Canada gathered information on multi-generational households, and in 2011 the census first counted stepfamilies and foster children. Families in Canada are diverse and our programs and policies should be responsive to this diversity.

We find that a narrow definition of family can neglect the experiences of single-parent, poor and minority families . For example, research shows that women of colour and low-income women often experience and interpret motherhood differently than white, class-privileged mothers.

definition essay about family

Recently, researchers began to examine how diversity related to race, class and sexual orientation affects grandparent-grandchild relationships. To continue to expand our understanding of families’ experiences, we need to think more broadly about what factors matter in families.

Family realities should be reflected in policy

How we define family impacts social policy like parental, maternity and paternity leave entitlements and child-care tax credits . Caregiver benefits and compassionate leave policies are also tied to family status . Eligibility depends on whether you are a family member.

In health-care contexts, visitors in intensive care units and emergency departments are often restricted to immediate family and grandparents often don’t have rights when it comes to child custody cases. So a comprehensive definition of family influences how we develop programs for families and who is eligible.

Besides needing to expand the definition of family, we also need to look at the messy realities of family and family life. The irony of organizing a public family conference while attending to the realities of our private family lives was not lost on us. As we scheduled meetings and conference calls, we were also planning Skype dates, making school lunches and caring for parents across the country.

We believe that practitioners, service providers and policy-makers need to take into account the complexity of family lives when thinking about family practice, programs and policies. Family scholars and the Vanier Institute of the Family refer to using a family lens: needing to look at the complexity of family and family relations beyond individual family members.

Thinking about families in a broad sense when we develop programs and policies can be challenging. It is much easier to use an individual lens to think about developing children, or aging seniors. But these individual family members, even those who live on their own, live out their lives in the context of families —whether biological or social.

The future of families

When using a family lens, it can be easy to slip into a glass-half-empty approach. Family life educators and social workers struggle with the tension between deficit models of family, and asset or strength-based models of family. Instead of only focusing on what problems families experience, we can benefit from understanding what strengths they have and what makes them resilient in the face of life’s challenges.

Some family practitioners and family scholars would say that in the best of all possible worlds, it would be preferable to remain apolitical as we think about family and as we provide information and assistance to families.

And yet, some of us feel strongly that it is important to look beyond families to society to advocate on behalf of families, or family members, who are at risk.

At our families conference we will be exploring the tension between present and future. Based on our understanding of systems and systemic change, we will emphasize envisioning a different future by including all families — in the broadest sense.

Rather than staying focused on the present, we look towards a future of change by asking the question: “Wouldn’t it be great if …?”

  • Sexual orientation
  • Social work
  • Grandparents
  • women of colour

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Course: the seeing america project   >   unit 8, family, community, society, “improving” the new world, freedom and un freedom, creativity in the face of adversity, native populations displaced, “little commonwealths”, “the best poor man’s country”, the great american agenda, “pursuit of happiness”, seeking freedom, migration and immigration, grappling with modernity, depression and world wars, changing dynamics of american families, at the table, “we the people”, want to join the conversation.

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definition essay about family

Family is an Definition of Family

This essay about the definition of family explores how the concept has evolved from traditional economic and biological connections to include a more diverse and inclusive understanding. Historically, families served as economic units within agrarian societies but transformed with industrialization and urbanization, leading to smaller nuclear families. Today, the family extends to include single-parent families, blended families, same-sex parent families, and even digital forms of transnational families maintained through technology. The essay highlights how emotional bonds, mutual support, and shared life experiences are now integral to defining what constitutes a family. Additionally, it discusses how legal definitions have adapted to recognize various family structures. The modern definition of family, therefore, is marked by diversity and adaptability, reflecting broader social and cultural acceptance. This evolving concept continues to underscore the family’s fundamental role as a pillar of social structure, capable of adapting to societal changes.

How it works

The notion of kinship has undergone profound transformations across epochs, adapting to the vicissitudes of culture, society, and economy. Presently, the delineation of family transcends the conventional paradigm of biological or matrimonial bonds, encompassing a myriad of permutations in contemporary societal frameworks.

Traditionally, the family has been construed as a collective comprising progenitors and offspring, often delineated as a nuclear unit. This orthodox portrayal emanates from pragmatic exigencies rooted in economics and societal norms, transcending mere emotional or biological affinities. In numerous societies, particularly within agrarian milieus, the family functioned as an economic entity, engaging in agrarian pursuits, manufacturing, and reciprocal assistance in subsistence endeavors.

Nonetheless, with the advent of industrialization and societal modernization, the configuration and functions of the family underwent metamorphosis. Urbanization precipitated a shift towards diminutive living quarters and a pronounced emphasis on nuclear as opposed to extended familial constellations. However, this transformation did not dilute the intricacies of familial dynamics; rather, it engendered novel dynamics and roles therein, mirroring shifts in societal norms concerning gender, matrimony, and cohabitation.

In contemporary epochs, the conception of family evinces a breadth and fluidity unparalleled in precedent. Families in the present era manifest in diverse configurations, mirroring a broader embracement of relationship diversity. Uniparental households, amalgamated families, families helmed by individuals of the same gender, and communal dwelling arrangements have become pervasive. These embodiments underscore that the bedrock of family is not inexorably tethered to consanguinity or conventional matrimonial structures; rather, emotional affinities, mutual sustenance, and shared life journeys hold commensurate significance in defining familial units.

Moreover, the imprint of technology and globalization on contemporary familial structures is indelible. The ascendancy of digital communication has engendered the concept of global or transnational families. Families perpetuate emotional and supportive bonds across vast expanses by virtue of digital tools that facilitate instantaneous communication and interaction. This phenomenon has broadened the geographic demarcations of family, evincing that geographical proximity is no longer a sine qua non for familial cohesion.

Furthermore, legal paradigms pertaining to family have evolved to accommodate this heterogeneous panorama. Legal statutes governing adoption, custodianship, and succession rights have broadened the juridical comprehension of familial ties, frequently acknowledging the rights and obligations of familial constituents irrespective of their biological or matrimonial affiliations.

In summation, the explication of family in contemporary society is characterized by its heterogeneity and malleability. Present-day familial configurations reflect the mutable sociocultural and economic terrains, affirming that the essence of kinship lies in bonds of sustenance and allegiance rather than fealty to conventional mores. As societal paradigms continue to evolve, so too will the conception of family, potentially espousing even more encompassing arrangements to encapsulate the human craving for affiliation and inclusion. This dynamic construal of family underscores its elemental role as a fulcrum of societal architecture, adaptable yet enduring in the visage of vicissitude.


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Psychology Discussion

Essay on family: definition, function, social systems and changes | psychology.


Essay on ‘Family’ for class 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12. Find paragraphs, long and short essays on ‘Family’ especially written for school and college students.

Essay on Family

Essay # 1. definition of family:.

It is a well-known fact that family is found everywhere and it is concomitant with group life. Society and State derive from a circle of intermarrying families banded together to satisfy their basic needs. Sociologically and historically, the family may be viewed as a group consisting of two or more parents and their children.

Such a view suggests itself because there have been great variations in the number of parties entering into the marriage union. Although the family is universal, no particular form of it is primary or inevitable. Like all other institutions, it is a social product subject to change and modification.

In response to varying conditions, different forms of the family have appeared from time to time. But in the present day world Patriarchal family organised under the system of monogamy is most prevalent institution. In such a kill-group that it is both an association and institution and very essential to the life of society.

Essay # 2. Function of Family:

It is an open secret that family plays an important role in the life of society. There is no other human group that dominates the life of the individuals, more than family. It is in the light of this hard fact that, Maciver says, “Of all the organizations, large or small, which society unfolds, none transcends the family in the intensity of its sociological significance. It influences the whole life of society in innumerable ways, and its changes, reverberate through the whole social structure. It is capable of endless variation and yet reveals a remarkable continuity und persistence through change.”

The family occupies a vital place in the working of social order and it is so because it performs certain characteristically significant functions. Davis has characterized the main social functions of the family in four divisions. These are reproduction, maintenance, placement and socialization of the young. It also performs individual functions but these are the corollary of its social functions.

However, Davis has said, “From a sociological point of view we are mainly concerned with the social functions and consequently we stress the four functions mentioned here as being the core functions with which the family is always and everywhere concerned. There may be great variation from one society to another in the precise manner and degree of fulfilment of the functions, but the four mentioned above seem to be the ones which universally require a family organization.”

Lundberg has also mentioned a number of basic functions of the family. In them he has included the regulation of sexual behaviour and reproduction, care and training of children, co-operation and division of labour and primary group satisfactions. Besides, there are many auxiliary functions as well.

Maciver divides the functions of the family into two categories. They are the essential and non-essential functions of the family. Under the essential he includes three functions- (i) Stable satisfaction of sex need, (ii) Production and rearing of children, and (iii) Provision of a home. Under the non­essential functions he mentions religious, educational, economic, health and recreation, which he says have now been transferred to specialized agencies in society.

In short, the various functions of the family can be mentioned in the following way:

1. Essential Functions of Family:

The essential functions of the family are those functions, which it has to perform exclusively. They can neither be shared with any other group nor can they be delegated to any other association. They are the functions, which in every age and in any form the family must perform and there can be no deviation from them.

Some of them are:

(i) Satisfaction of sex need

(ii) Provision of a home

(iii) Production and rearing of children.

They are in a way the primary functions of the family, for the doing of which some sort of family group has ever to remain in existence.

This fact is aptly testified by Reuben Hill in these words, “Family life is probably more than a social habit. The family may be viewed as a device for solving certain fundamental problem, which must be faced by any group of people who live and work together in a society. As a problem-solving device it has simplified the social life of many of its members. Through it sex partners are sorted out and their sex drives are harnessed and linked with the love sentiments to weld together conjugal units into which children can be born, cared for and reared to adulthood. Within it all the basic elemental needs are met and kept from becoming individual problems, which if left unsolved might demand collective action. It simplifies life to live in a family and that is true for adults as well as for children. Certain basic needs of affection, intimate response, recognition, personality, expression, growth and security are met through the family which are not met satisfactorily elsewhere.”

In view of these facts the important essential functions of the family can be explained in some detail in the following manner:

(i) Satisfaction of Sex Need:

This is the first essential function, which the family performs. Satisfaction of sex instinct brings the desire for life-long partnership among male and female. The satisfaction of sex instinct makes for normal personality. If sex instinct is suppressed, it may produce personality maladjustments and disrupt social relations.

The modern family can satisfy this instinct in greater degree and in a better way than the traditional family. In the old family the sexual act was combined with reproduction and the fear of pregnancy as a result of intercourse prevented the couple to satisfy their sex urge. But in modern family the task of sexual satisfaction has been eased by the invention of contraceptives and other methods of birth-control.

It has now become a primary function of the modern family. According to Reed, “The fundamental function of the family is to regulate and gratify sexual needs. Manu accepts sexual satisfaction besides production as the aim of family. Vatsyayan also regards sexual satisfaction as the primary objective of the family.

(ii) Provision of Home:

The desire for a home is a powerful incentive for men as well as women after marriage. Man after the hard toil of the day returns home where in the midst of his wife and children he sheds off his fatigue.

Though, in modern times there are hotels and clubs which also provide recreation to the man but the joy that a man feels within the congenial circle of women, parents and children stands far above the momentary pleasure, which is provided by club and hotel. In spite of these re-creative agencies the home is still the heaven and sanctuary where its members find comfort and affection.

(iii) Production and Rearing of Children:

The inevitable result of sexual satisfaction is procreation. The task on race perpetuation has always been an important function of the family. It is an institution par excellence for the production and rearing of children. The function of child-rearing is better performed today than in the past because now more skill and knowledge are devoted to the care of the unborn and new-born children.

The infant death rate has shown a market declare. In the achievement of this result specialized agencies like nursing child welfare centres have come to the aid of the family. A close study of the available statistical data reveals that the number of illegitimate children is falling down, the practice of prostitution is vanishing away and the number of marriages is increasing rapidly.

It is a pointer to the fact that the function of procreation of race is only performed through family. In most human societies of the world the child is believed to be the nucleus of the family. Procreation perpetuates the family. It increases the population of the country.

(iv) Protection and Care of the Young:

It is another essential function of the family and it may be said to be a corollary of its sexual and procreative functions. According to Groves the protection and care of children is one necessary function of the family. The human child is the most helpless and weak being. A family is needed in order to maintain its existence and to ensure its coordinated and balanced development.

Its balanced development is achieved with difficulty and that too with the care of the parents and other family members. It is right that in the modern age this function of the family is losing much of its past significance and it is being handed over to the subsidiary agencies. But all the same it still continues to be one of the essential functions of the family and the Indian families are particularly known for this function.

(v) Provision of Psychological Satisfaction and Security :

Another fundamental and universal function of the family is to meet the psychological needs of its members. Ogburn has included affectional functions in the necessary or vital functions of the family. According to Groves it is the functions of the family to provide opportunities for the establishment of intimate relations.

Burgess and Lock have written, “Mutual affection is becoming the essential basis of marriage and family:” The individual receives affection, sympathy, love and psychological security in the family. The relations between man and woman in the family are not exclusively physical. Profound conjugal affection for each other is generated in husband and wife by working together in the family and by sharing each other’s joys and sorrows.

An all-around development of individual is not possible in the absence of family love. The family has an important part to play especially in the development of the child’s personality. Ralph Linton has written that merely the satisfaction of bodily needs is not sufficient for the proper development of the infant.

2. Non-Essential Functions of the Family :

The non-essential functions of the family are those functions which it performed in the traditional society but which it is giving up one by one in the modern times. These functions are being either delegated to the subsidiary agencies or they can be shared with other groups.

They are no longer the exclusive function of the family but still in some societies the family is associated with them in some form or the other. The Indian society is one such example where the family despite so many modifications and being placed under limits has been laying its claims on the so-called non-essential functions along with the essential functions.

Some of the non­essential functions of the family can be enumerated in the following order:

i. An Economic Unit:

A very important non-essential function of the family is that it serves as an economic unit. In the traditional family most of the goods for consumption were made at home. The members of the family were all engaged in the family occupation. The ancient Hindu joint family served as a sort of mutual insurance society. It was a unit of production and the centre of economic activities.

However, in the present time the importance of family as an economic unit has been lessened because most of its economic activities have been taken over by some outside agencies. The members of the modern family do not work together as they did in the old family.

They are engaged in different activities outside the come. Moreover the family has not even remained the unit of production as most the goods for consumption including even the food are purchased ready-made from the market.

But with all these shifts in the family as an economic unit, it has not been reduced to a passive body. This is to say that the old pattern has not been destroyed, it has been merely changed. In the family one or the other profession is still carried on though of a different sort and in a different atmosphere. In the West the family might have lost much of its role as an economic unit but in India it still to a certain extent continues to perform this traditional function.

ii. Centre of Religious Activities:

Another non-essential function, which the family performs is of a religious character. It is a centre for the religious training of the children who learn from their parents various religious virtues. In the old family, different religious practices like idol worship, yagya, religious discourses and sermons by pandits were carried on which made the outlook of the children religious in India. The modern family, however, does not observe religious practices and has become secular in outlook.

iii. Centre of Education:

One more function performed in the family is the education of children. The family is an important education agency. The child learns the first letters under the guidance of parents though today he learns them in a nursery-school. The traditional family was the centre of vocational education because the children from the early childhood were associated with the family task.

The modern family has delegated the task of vocational education to technical institutes and colleges. But despite all this the role of the family as a center of education has not vanished completely and in a somewhat modified form it still continues to perform some of the educational functions.

For instance, it is even now in and through family that the people learn their social habits and moral virtues. It is in no way an in significant function for which the Indian families are conspicuously known and popular.

iv. Guardian of Culture:

The family keeps the culture of society, alive. It moulds its members according to the social culture. The children are educated in the various aspects of culture from their infancy. The family creates such an environment for them that they learn to live and behave in acccordance with their culture.

The elderly members of the family impart training in matters of conduct, thinking religion and ethics etc. to the children. The family is aptly described as the maker and guardian of Culture.

v. Centre of Recreation:

The old family provided recreation to its members. They used to sing and dance together and visit the family relations. In modern times family relationship is individual rather than collective. The present forms of recreation such as bridge tennis carrom and movies, provide for only individual or couple participation.

Moreover, recreation is now had in club or hotel rather than in home. In this way> there has also occurred a shift in the recreational functions of-the family. However, it needs be said that in countries like India having close ties of ancient culture the family is still acting as a centre of recreation at least in the rural areas.

It is clear from the foregoing facts that there has come about a great change in the functions of the family whereas about a hundred years back the family was more of a community, it has become today more of an association. The very importance of the family has been loosened. It is no longer a home for recreation of its members, a school of education for children or a centre for their religious training.

Many family duties, which were performed formerly by the parents have now been transferred to external agencies. The functions of a modern family are very much limited both in their number and extent. Even the task of procreation has suffered a setback. Of course the task of satisfaction of sex need is better performed, by modern family.

In short, the family has lost some of its former functions. It is to be, however, remembered that though there is a loss of functions the family is not going to perish. There are certain functions for this performance of which no human society can do without family. Thus it may be said in the end that despite its structural and functional changes, the family still plays a significant role in social strength and social solidarity.

Essay # 3. Family as a Social System:

It is customary to regard family as a social system. In fact there are many kinds of social systems and these are composed of variety of elements. So far as family is concerned, it fulfils many of the conditions, which go to make it a social system. It is for this reason that family is characterised as being a perfect social system and this notion fully holds good at least in the case of joint family.

Defining social system Talcott Parsons writes, “The social system is composed of the patterned interaction of members. It consists of interaction of a plurality of individual actors, whose relations to each other are mutually oriented through the definition and mediation of a pattern of structured and shared symbols and expectations.”

Similarly C.P. Loomis is also of the opinion, “Sociologists frame of reference is inter action, characterised by patterned social relation that display in their uniformities social elements articulated by social processes, the dynamics of which account for the emergence, maintenance and change of social system.”

When these observations are applied on family, it becomes clear that the family is contained in a number of elements, which are found in every social system. These are some of those elements of which most family groups consist and on the basis of which family is entitled to be called a social system.

Every family consists of a number of persons and all of them have a certain status. This status of the members of a family is normally determined on the basis of age and sex. But sometimes learning and occupation also have some effect in this matter. The status of parents is always higher than that of the children.

Similarly in a family sons enjoy better status than daughters. Status helps in making gradation in the position of the different members of their family and their social relations are determined in accordance with their position.

Since father’s status in the family is the highest of all, he is authorised to perform all the family responsibilities. The eldest son being next in importance to his father automatically obtains the same position after his father’s death.

All the members of the family perform a certain role and it is by this means that the working of the family is made possible. The roles that the different persons perform are determined and conditioned by the status that they hold in the family. In fact every status has a correspondent role attached to it.

Role is the outward manifestation of the status and, thus both of them go together. Every member of the family while performing his role keeps in view his status in the family and does the things accordingly.

The role maintains the balance of status system and thereby keeps intact the structure of the family. Since, there are a variety of status differing from person to person, so there are a number of roles varying from person to person according to his status.

For Instance, the role of parents in the family is quite different from that of the children but it needs be said that the functioning of the family can go well only if all of its members perform their respective roles properly.

3. Privilege:

In a social system every unit is gifted with a certain kind of privileges. These privileges also go with the roles that they perform and the status that they hold in a social structure. It is through the enjoyment of privileges that a unit is enabled to do its responsibilities nicely under all circumstance. It is this element that gives stability and continuity to a social system. The same thing can be said in the case of family as well. The members of the family are always in the enjoyment of certain privileges according to their status. It is by the exercise of these privileges enjoyed by the members that structure and functioning of the family remain intact.

4. Necessities and Aims:

Every social system consists of the needs, aims and ends of the people. They are related to the level of cultural and economic progress of the society. Sometimes they are also concerned with the social development of the people. Men have some basic needs and the fulfilment of them is the chief aim of a social system. For realization of these aims a social system has to set before it its certain ideals and ends.

In this way needs and alms play a vital role in the efficient working of any social system. Family as a social system is concerned with fulfilling some-physical and social needs of the people. There are some basic needs like sex impulse, procreation of race and the provision of home, which cannot be met elsewhere except in the family.

These needs aim at ensuring good life to the people. It is right that in the modern times many of the functions of the family have been taken over by some other associations, but all the same there are some primary functions which must be performed in the family in all civilized societies.

5. Sanctions:

The sanctions determined by the social values and Ideals play in important part in the field of human conduct. The social sanctions make a distinction between what is right and what is wrong in the activities and behaviour of the individuals. Society permits its members to do certain things and forbids them to do others and thereby lays down a standard for the general conduct of its members.

The members are allowed to do only those things, which are beneficial for the life and stability of the social order. In this way sanctions also help a lot in the strengthening of a social system. They maintain discipline and orderly conditions in it. This element is found in abundance in the working of the family as well. There are some set rules and codes of behaviour which are binding on the members and which they cannot ignore easily.

Thus the family as a social system depends largely for its life and sound working on a set of rules, which operate in the form of social sanctions. The more active and forceful are these social sanctions, the more solid and the longer lasting will be the structure of the family. This is why in the past families were more integrated and well-disciplined because there was more force behind the social sanctions.

In every social system there exists a supreme power which acts as a controlling figure in it. It, on the one hand, resolves the conflicts of different units and on the other, keeps intact the unity of that social system. The family as a social system vests its supreme power in the father or husband who supervises and controls the activities of other members.

There can be no challenge or disobedience to the command of the head of the family. Only such families last long in which there is unity of command and a well-knit controlling power.

7. Ideal Principles:

The family, as a social system, derives its life out of the inter-relations and inter-actions of its members. Every member of the family has a special function to do and a particular role to play for its well-being. There is great need of making. It certain that all the members of the family do their part well. For this purpose there exists some ideal principles. These principles maintain solidarity and balance in the family. These principles are in the form on unwritten maxim and are based on common consent. They are so vital to the social life that they cannot be set aside easily and in their absence a good family life cannot be made possible.

8. Sentiments:

Sentiments occupy an important place in a social system. The sentiments especially influence collective life. It is under their influence that an individual gives preference to collective interest over his own individual gain. They develop general working patterns of different groups, which afford stability and uniformity to a social system.

Family as a social system gives expression to a number of sentiments. The chief among these are a sentiment of love, the sentiment of co-operation, sentiment of sympathy and the sentiment of respect. These sentiments form the be all and end all of family life.

Thus it is clear from the above facts that family is truly a social system because it contains most of the basic elements of a social system. It is right that in the modern times family is undergoing great changes. As a result of this fact it is feared that family may not lose in course of time, its character of being a social system.

But such doubts appear to be unfounded because there are so many elements of social system, which cannot vanish from family. Thus in the end it can be said that family is definitely a social system with this much exception that it has been more apparent in a joint family.

Essay # 4. Changes in the Modern Family:

It is a well-known fact that change is the Law of Nature. There is no human organisation on social institution which has remained uniform and static at all times and under all circumstances. It has to move and change with the changing conditions, or it is apt to become obsolete and go out of existence. This rule is fully applicable on the age-old institution of family as well. The family as it is now is much different from what it was a few generations ago.

Several changes have taken place in its nature and structure with the result that it has undergone an overall transformation. Whereas about a century back the family was more of a community, it has become today more of an association.

According to Ogburn and Nimcoff, “The family has changed a good deal in the past and has assumed many different forms and functions. The family has proved to be a very resilient and flexible institution. Despite radical changes in form and function, the family has continued to exist in every society known to us.”

It points to the fact that in the recent times many changes have occurred in the family and some of them may briefly be mentioned here.

Referring to some of the changes occurred in the modern family and the forces bringing about them Davis writes, “Modern civilization characterized by an elaborate industrial technology, a high degree of urbanization, and a great amount of geographical and social ability, has sheered away the extended kingship bonds. The role effective kinship group is now the immediate family and even this unit has lost in size and function. True, the immediate family has gamed in importance by being freed from the control of extended kindred, but it has declined in importance in other ways.”

It is clear from this statement that in the modern time a large number of changes have occurred in the organization and working have the family and several factors has been operating to bring about these changes.

Some of the more important changes in family life need be mentioned here in order to reveal its present position:

(i) To begin with, the joint family system is declining and in its place single-family system is coming into prominence. Unlike the large family of traditional society the modern families are small in size. They consist of the husband, wife and their minor children. This is of course the first and the fundamental change that has occurred in the structure of family.

(ii) In the modern time there has occurred a change in the mutual relation of parents and children. The control of parents over their children has lessened a great deal and now the family discipline is not as tight as it was in the ancient families. The children have become less obedient to their parents and they are very particular about their freedoms and rights.

(iii) There has taken place a change in the mutual relation of husband and wife in the family. Unlike old times women have become independent and self-reliant in many ways. Now that the women have gamed equal fights with men, their mutual relationship has undergone much change. Mowrer has correctly written of modern woman that ‘she is no longer the drudge and slave of other days.’

(iv) The modern family is no longer a permanent association. It is precarious and can be rendered void at any time. Marriage has been reduced to a mere social contract, which it is not difficult to break in the event of even the slightest friction. According to Maciver, “The Modern family in comparison with the ancient and medieval families is very weak and unstable.”

(v) There has come about a good deal of change in the extent of family functions. Many of the functions which family performed previously are no longer under its care. They have been transferred to several external agencies. The family has ceased to be an economic as well as social unit. When compared with the family of medieval times, the functions of the modern family are few. All but gone are its economic educational, religious and protective functions. They have been transferred to the State, the church, the school, and industry.

(vi) The modern family is under less religious control. It has been replaced by legal control. With the decline of the Influence of religion the family morals have also become comparatively loose. The modern family has become secular in outlook and it has given up many of its religious activities.

(vii) The rigidity traditionally associated with marital and sexual relationships no longer characterizes the modern family. The use of contraceptive and means of birth control has rendered the size of the family very small. There is not much affinity among the blood relations of the family. In this way the relations in the family have become more formal and mechanical in Nature.

(viii) The family seems to be coming on the verge of disorganization. The number of divorces is on the increase. The control, which the family exercises over the individual is being lessened rapidly. Thus the family has undergone a good deal of transformation in the present century.

Factors Responsible for Changes in the Family :

It is clear from the foregoing facts that a large number of changes have occurred in the structure of family. This process has not completed yet and is liable to continue till indefinitely even in the unknown future. There is not one but many factors which are working at the root of all these changes.

Referring to some of these factors Jay Rumney and Joseph Maier write, “The modern family which is still essentially patriarchal in character has been shorn of much of its power. The State is tending to become a super-parent, having arrogated to itself much of the patriarch’s authority. Profound economic changes since the Industrial Revolution have deprived the family of its economic functions as a unit of production. It is now mainly a unit of consumption. The new economy, requiring the use of womanpower opened up new occupations to women, they became economically in dependent of their husbands. The political and economic emancipation of woman as well as periods of prolonged unemployment undermined the authority of the father, especially if his earnings were surpassed by those of his wife and children. A new morality emerged in conflict with the traditional moral standards. Large families became rare. Urbanization led to a wide dissemination of contraceptive knowledge. The small independent if it, consisting of parents and one or two offspring became the rule.”

Thus, lit short, some of the causes and factors of family changes may be explained in the following order:

1. Impact of Industrialization:

The first important factor bringing about changes in the structure of family has been the force of industrialization. The Industrial Revolution substituted the power machine for the manual tool. As new techniques of production advanced they shelved the old family of its economic functions. New factories with heavy machines have been set up which have taken both the work and the workers out of the family.

Now cloth is produced not on the family handloom but in the textile mill. Thousands of workers who are drawn out of home are required to work in the factory. Not only males but females also have begun to go to the factory for work. The work of women has become specialized like that of men. They instead of being busy with the multifarious tasks of the family have started going to workshops and factories for work.

As a result of it women have become as good the earning members of the family as men. This earning power of the women has made them free from dependence on men. In this way industrialization has greatly affected the character of modern family. As Maciver says, ” The family has changed from a production to consumption unit.”

2. Decline of Religious Control:

The modern family has become secular in its outlook because of the decline of the force of religions. Marriage has become a civil contract rather than a religious sacrament. It can be broken at any time. The authority of religion over the conditions of marriage and divorce has suffered a great decline.

Divorce is a frequent occurrence in modern family while in traditional family it was a rare phenomenon. Religion has been a great uniting and solidifying factor in the, family. And with the loss of its force the family is bound to undergo disintegration.

3. Effect of Urbanism:

An inevitable result of industrialization has been the, growth of urbanism. Urbanism has materially affected not merely the size of the home but also the essentials of the family life. It has substituted legal controls for informal controls and has brought the family into competition with specialized agencies. The result is that many of the family functions have been taken over by the external agencies.

For example, the educational, health and recreational functions of the family are now performed by schools, hospitals and recreational centres respectively. Under the joint force of industrialization and urbanization the family has ceased to be a social as well as economic unit. The joint family system is vanishing and in its place the single-family system is becoming the order of the day. It has even affected the mutual relations of the different members of the family.

To quote Davis,” It has forced individuals to co-operate with countless person who are not kinsmen. It has also encouraged them to join special interest groups thus drawing them out of the unspecialized and heterogeneous family with its wide sex and age differences.” In this way urbanism and industrialization have caused considerable modifications in the structure of family.

4. Effect of Changing Mores:

The mores concerning family life are constantly changing and this factor has. Also greatly affected the organization of family. Now the mutual relations of different members of the family have undergone remarkable change and it is all the result of changing mores. According to Maciver and Page “The basis of husband wife relationship in the family is no longer domination but co­operation”.

Previously everywhere, the wife was dominated by the husband and so the family stability survived because of the unity of command. But with the removal of this dominance the family organization has been exposed to powerful perils. Thus as a result of all these factors the family organization is not stable and it is undergoing quick modifications. But notwithstanding all these facts the family still continues to be a strategic social Institution.

5. Social Mobility:

The critics are of the opinion that social mobility has cut still deeper into the family organization. In so far as individuals improve their class status by virtue of their own achievement rather than by birth, an intrinsic function of the family is lost to it.

In this connection Davis writes, “In a completely open society where all vertical positions were filled purely by individual accomplishment, there could scarcely be a family organization; each family member would tend to find himself in a different. Social stratum, from the others, and the invidious sentiments thus brought into the family circle would prove incompatible with family sentiment.”

The organizations of the family can remain intact only if its members feel dependent on it for their personal advance in life. If this requirement is fulfilled by some external factors, it adversely affects the family organization. This is exactly what is happening in the present society, people do not feel themselves so much. Attached to family because so many external factors are on their disposal to help them in their individual development.

Essay # 5. Sociology Significance of the Family:

The family is by far the most important primary group in society. Historically it has been transformed from a more or less self-contained unity into a definite and limited organization of minimum size, consisting primarily of the original contracting parties: On the other hand it continues to serve as a total community for the lives born within it, gradually relinquishing this character as they grow toward adulthood. The family more profoundly than any other organization, exists only as a process.

Referring to the sociological of the family Maciver and Page opine, “Of all the organizations, large or small, which society unfolds, none transcends the family in the intensity of its sociological significance. It influences the whole life of society in innumerable ways, and its changes reverberate through the whole social structure. It is capable of endless variation and yet reveals a remarkable continuity and persistence through change”.

Thus, in short, family is the first and foremost organ of society and this fact can be proved by the following arguments:

1. Universal in Character:

The family is the most nearly universal of all social forms. It is found in all societies, at all stages of social development, and exists far below the human level, among a myriad species of animals. Almost every human being is or has been a member of some family. There is no other social group that can equal family in this matter.

2. Formative Influence:

Family is also significant because it exerts the profoundest formative influence on the life of the individuals. It is the earliest social environment of man’s life and plays a vital role in moulding it. No other organization can compete with family in this respect. According to Maciver, “In particular it moulds the character of the individual by the impression both of organic and of mental habits”.

Its influence in infancy determines the personality structure of the individual. It is largely from his parents that the child receives his physical inheritance and mental training, on the basis of which he leads the whole of his life. It is well-said by a critic, “To be well-born is to possess the greatest of all gifts. To be ill-born there is nothing which this world can afford that will be adequate compensation for the lack of good heredity.” Thus family has come to surpass all other social organizations in the matter of formative influence on human personality.

3. Nuclear Position in the Social Structure:

Family is the nucleus of all the social organizations. Frequently in the simpler societies, as well as in the more advanced types of patriarchal society the whole social structure is built of family units. Only in the higher complex civilizations does the family cease to fulfill this function, but even in them the local community, as well as its divisions of social classes tends to remain unions of families. One of the first definitions ever given of a community made it “a union of families” and for the local community the definition, with some qualification, still holds today.

4. Performance of Basic Functions:

The significance of the family as a social institution may be measured by the number of basic functions it performs. Compared with the family of medieval times, the functions of the modern family are few. All but gone are its economic, educational, religious and protective functions. They have been transferred to the State, the church, the school and industry. Notwithstanding the loss of functions, the family remains a strategic social institution. It is our parents that first cure us of our natural wildness, and break in us the spirit of independency we are all born with.

It is to them that we owe the first rudiments of our submission and to the honour and deference which children pay to parents all societies are obliged for the principle of human obedience, writes Mandeville.

In addition to performing this all-important function of socializing the individual, the family regulates sexual relationships, provides for the affectional needs of its members, makes possible the prolonged care, which children require and transmits the values of the culture.

It remains a powerful agent of social and political control and economic differentiation. Children generally stay in the social class to which their parents belonged. They inherit both the property and the cultural advantages, which its possession offers.

5. Proper Organization of Society Dependent upon Family:

Proper social organization largely depends upon sound organization of families. If in a particular society families disintegrate, that society can never be safe and sooner or later it is found to meet its doom. This is why at all times one major cause of social disorganization has been family disorganization.

Families develop the characters of the members of the society. In the opinion of ADLER, a man’s role in the family determines his role in society. There is no exaggeration in calling family a cornerstone of society.

6. An Important Agency of Social Control:

Family is an important agency of social control. Family controls sex passions in society. A strict control over sex relationships is necessary for maintaining the order otherwise society will disintegrate. In all cultures, family exercises some degree of control over the unmarried members from falling into bad habits.

No parents would like their children to adopt the career of crime. The children under the influence of their parents drop bad habits and learn good habits. In the making of great men families have always played a major role. In this way the making of a good citizen in society depends upon the parents.

7. Family is the Conveyer of Culture:

The family not only moulds character and personality of the individuals, but it also imparts its culture to them. It is while living in the family that the child acquires knowledge about the culture of society. It is an efficient vehicle for the transmission of culture from one generation to another. It is a very good socializing agency that makes the people social and cultured beings.

According to Deway and Tufts, “The family is a social agency for the education and protection of the race.” It is through family that the individuals come to know the customs, traditions, social values and cultural background of their community. Family provides them knowledge and understanding of the past or d thereby prepares them to live well in the future. Thus in all these ways family plays a vital role in the field of preservation and transmission of social culture.

8. Family is Vital to the Process of Socialization :

Another point of significance of family is that it plays a vital role in the process of socialization of the individuals. Merrill is of the opinion that family is an enduring association of parent and offspring whose primary functions are the socialization of the child and the satisfaction of the members.

It is in the family that child learns all good and human qualities like sincerity, sympathy, self-submission, conscious­ness of responsibility and so forth. It is the character developed in the family, which helps the child in becoming an important and responsible member of society.

F. J. Wright was quite correct in saying that in every family, the child gets an opportunity for free expression of thoughts and developing his entire personality. It has been conclusively proved that the proper development of the child is impossible without a good environment in the family. The tendencies and habits, which he acquires in the family remain with him for the whole of his life.

It is in view of this fact that Freud says, “The view-point of a child towards the senior in the family determines his attitude and viewpoint towards the elders in society.” Thus it is obvious that ‘family is the cradle of social virtues and no other social group contributes more than family in the process of socializing the individuals. Confucius remarked quite correctly that if you want to improve society, improve its families. Society will improve automatically when the families improve.”

It is clear from the above account that family is the most important social institution. No other human organization can overshadow it in the matter of sociological significance. This fact is true not only from the structural view-point, but also from the functional stand-point.

There are some functions of the family, which no other group can undertake successfully. There are some clear uses of the family, which no one can derive from any other group. Without family the process of socialization would remain incomplete, the task of preserving and transmitting culture to posterity would be half done and there would be no organization to safeguard their social and cultural values. Its significance also lies in the fact of its being the oldest and universal human organization.

It is even the parent of society whose structure is raised on the foundations of family. If family were to vanish, it would expose the whole human race to the horrors of complete decay. The present changes in the family need not be taken to mean the signal of its possible downfall in the future; it is rather a process of its adjustment to the current needs and the changing times. Family in the past has remained an indispensable social system and it is sure to continue as such in the future as well.

Thus on account of its strategic position the family more than any other group exerts persistent, intimate and far reaching influence on the habits, attitudes and social experiences of the people. It plays the foremost role in the formation of personality. It occupies a key place in social organization.

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Essay , Psychology , Family , Essay on Family

definition essay about family

How to Write a Definition Essay: New Guide with Samples

definition essay about family

Have you ever found it difficult to explain certain words or ideas? That's because understanding them isn't always easy. To avoid confusion, it's important to really understand the words we use and be able to explain them well.

That's why teachers often assign definition essays in high school and college. But these essays aren't just about repeating dictionary definitions. They dive deep into complex terms, exploring their rich backgrounds and meanings.

In this article, our rewrite essay service will cover different types of these papers, give you practical tips for writing them, and even provide examples to simplify this journey for you!

What is a Definition Essay

A definition essay is a type of writing assignment where you explain the meaning of a specific word or concept. Instead of just giving a simple definition from the dictionary, you dive deeper into what the word really means and explore its different aspects.

For instance, if you're tasked with defining 'success,' you might discuss what success means to different people, how it can vary based on cultural or societal norms, and whether it's purely based on achievements or encompasses personal fulfillment as well.

The purpose of writing definition essays in school is multifaceted. Firstly, it helps you refine your understanding of language by encouraging you to analyze words more critically. It also fosters your ability to think deeply and express complex ideas clearly. Additionally, it cultivates your skills in research, as you may need to gather evidence and examples to support your interpretation of the word or concept. Now that we've cleared the definition essay meaning, let's explain its common types in detail.

Definition Essay Examples

Here's a definition essay example from our custom essay service to help you understand what a good paper looks like. Take a look at how it's structured and formatted if you want to use it as a reference for your own work. And if you're interested, you can always buy essay cheap and get high-quality paper from our platform anytime.

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Commonly Used Definition Essay Types

When choosing an intriguing term with a rich historical background for your definition essay, it's essential to carefully consider your options and determine the most effective approach. Here are some common types, as suggested by our dissertation writing help :

Commonly Used Definition Essay Types

  • Analysis : Break down the topic into its constituent parts and define each part separately.
  • Classification : Determine the categories under which the topic can be classified.
  • Comparison : Highlight the uniqueness of the topic by comparing and contrasting it with more common subjects.
  • Details : Identify the key traits and distinctive qualities that best encapsulate the central idea of your essay.
  • Negation : Clarify what your topic is, not to narrow down its definition.
  • Origins and Causes : Explore the historical origins and background of the concept, examining where it first appeared and any relevant historical details.
  • Results, Effects, and Uses : Discuss the consequences, effects, and practical applications of the subject matter.

How to Write a Definition Essay

Just like with any writing, a definition essay structure involves an introduction, body, and conclusion. But what makes it interesting is what you explore in the body paragraphs.

For example, you could organize your definition essay outline by discussing the term from various angles. Start with a personal anecdote or story that illustrates the term in action. Then, provide a definition from a reputable source like a textbook or scholarly article. Next, consider interviewing people from different backgrounds to get their perspectives on the term. You could also analyze how the term has evolved over time, looking at historical examples or cultural shifts. Finally, offer your own interpretation of the term, drawing on your own experiences and insights.

For a more in-depth guide on writing a definition essay, let's explore the following sections provided by our experienced research paper writer .

Definition Essay Introduction

In the beginning stages of a definition essay, your reader gets their first taste of what your topic entails. It's crucial that this introduction is both informative and captivating, setting the stage for the rest of your essay. Here's what you need to include:

  • Start with something attention-grabbing, like a thought-provoking question or an interesting fact.
  • Provide a brief overview of the topic and why it's important to define it.
  • Clearly state the term you're defining and your interpretation of it.

Definition Essay Body Paragraphs

In your essay, break down the phrase into its different parts, look at it from various angles, and then provide a relevant explanation. Depending on what your assignment calls for, you might need more than three paragraphs. Feel free to mix up the order or add sections depending on how complex the term is. Here are some ideas for what you can include:

  • Start by talking about where the term came from and how it has changed over time. Understanding its origins can give insight into its meaning and significance.
  • Look up the official definition of the term and compare it to your own understanding. This can help clarify any differences and give a broader perspective.
  • Share your own thoughts and interpretation of the term, using examples or stories to illustrate your point. Your personal experiences can add depth and context to your analysis.
  • Find a definition or explanation from an expert or scholar in the field and discuss how it aligns or differs with your own perspective. This can provide credibility and further insight into the term.
  • Explore how the term is used in popular culture and what it reveals about societal values and beliefs. This can shed light on how the term is understood and interpreted in different contexts.

Definition Essay Conclusion

In the concluding paragraph, you should tie everything together neatly. Here's how you can structure your conclusion:

  • Remind the reader of your main points and why the definition of the term is important.
  • Highlight how having a clear understanding of the term can influence our thoughts and actions. This is where you show the broader significance of your analysis.
  • Encourage your audience to apply the term accurately in their own discussions and advocate for precision in defining terms within their communities. This empowers readers to take action based on what they've learned.

Tips for Definition Essay Writing Process

Now that we're nearing the end, you might have already grasped how to write a definition essay. However, if you still feel like you're threading a needle while wearing mittens, fear not! Our essay writer has laid out some nifty guidelines to help you ace this challenge:

How to Write a Definition Essay

  • Choose a term with depth, something that's not ordinary but has a rich backstory and multiple meanings. Think of it like picking a word that's like a Russian nesting doll – there's plenty to explore.
  • Use vivid language to paint a picture that engages the senses. For instance, when talking about 'love,' describe the warmth of a hug, the sweetness of Valentine's chocolates, or the sound of laughter with a partner. It helps your readers feel like they're right there with you.
  • Explore both the positive and negative associations of your term. Words aren't simple; they come with different meanings. For example, 'power' can mean strength and influence but can also be linked to negative things like abuse and control.
  • Use real-life examples to make your points clear in your definition essay. Whether you're talking about successful people from different fields or sharing stories that illustrate 'love,' concrete examples help readers understand.
  • Be creative with your approach. Use metaphors, illustrations, or humor to keep things interesting. Remember, it's your essay – make it come alive!

Final Words

As we wrap up, we trust you've grasped the ins and outs of how to write a definition essay and feel inspired to tackle your own. Nobody wants to be left scratching their head over complex topics, right? So why not leverage our academic writing assistance to your advantage? Whether you need help brainstorming extended topics, crafting a sharp analytical piece, or any other form of writing, we've got you covered. Say goodbye to confusion and ignorance – Order essay and let us guide you toward clarity and knowledge.

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