Origin and Characteristics of a Family

Enviroment Enviromental Education For JTET/CTET

The Social Environment

How did the family originate?

The early man started his life as an individual. Gradually he came in contact with his fellows and he started developing a social life. At any period of human life it is hard to understand that a man ever remained in isolation. Thus, this hypothesis does not cover the whole thing.

Small Groups

However, it is observed that early associations of human being remained limited to small groups for some limited functions only. There are evidences that early humans lived in caves in small groups. Evidences of wall drawings in caves showing humans and implements indicate that early men lived in groups and that was the time when human culture started to evolve.

Man as Inventor

When nature did not provide him what he wanted he gradually learned to force the nature to provide him the same in the desired amount. When he did not get the natural objects in sufficient amount, he made artificial tools to get the same in desired amount. These activities gradually made him an inventor. Gradually he learned the art of living. In this way man learned to satisfy his physical needs. Thus, the foundation of culture was laid down.

Requirement of Food

Human search for food became the reason for human beings to locate at one place. Since the amount of food available for humans in a small area might have been small, they lived at one place in form of very small groups or bands. Thus, the early groups of human beings might have been very small. Such groups moved on as there started encroachments on the food supply. But, these bands had some blood relations who always lived together. These blood related individuals created the nucleus of the group.

It was the dependence of a child on the mother which created the first permanent location. This permanent location functioned as the seat of home. This was the foundation of the family. Gradually, this family continued developing which became the most permanent.

The Origin of a Family

Thus, family or the smallest but most permanent social institution was formed. Now, it can be said that –

Family is a social institution organized to meet certain social needs. In fact, it is a group which consists of parents, with or without children and relatives united by bonds of love and affection and sharing common social activities and genetic traits.

It is generally regarded as a main social institution and a locus of most of the social activities of a man or the human being.

What is a family?

From the discussion above, here we can conclude that a family is a social institution. It is the most fundamental of all social groups. It is universal in its distribution from time immemorial. It is fundamental and persistent social group. It is a basic social institution. A family has numerous values institutionalized in it. These values have long been regarded as important to shape up a society.

A Small group of blood related individuals: A Family

The family has been defined as fundamental to the existence of society. It has also been seen as a source of moral values and decent behaviour. A family has also been defined as a primary force for controlling behaviour and civilizing the human animal.

Definitions of Family given by Scholars –

  • Family is a group defined by sex relationship sufficiently precise and enduring to provide for the procreation and upbringing of children – MacIver
  • Family is a group of persons where relations to one another one based upon consanguinity and who are therefore kin to one another – Kinsley Davis
  • Family is a more or less durable association of husband and wife with or without children or of a man or women alone with children – Nikoff
  • Family is a group of persons by the ties of marriage, blood or adoption, constituting a single household, interacting and intercommunicating with each other in their respective social roles of husband and wife mother and father, son and daughter brother and sister creating a common culture. – Burgess and Lacke
  • Family is a group based on martial relations, right, and duties of parenthood, common habitation and reciprocal, relations between parents and children. – Robert h. Lowie
  • Family is a group that involves marriage, rights and duties of parents, common residence for parents and children and reciprocal relations between parents and children. – Ralph Linton
  • Family is the biological social unit composed of husband, wife and children. –Elliot

What are the characteristics of a family?

Some significant characteristics are considered to be essential for every family. These characteristics are mentioned below –

  •  A mating relationship,
  • A form of marriage or other institutional arrangement in accordance with which the mating   relation is established and maintained,

(iii) A system of nomenclature,

(iv) Economic Provision shared by the members of the group but having special reference to the economic needs associated with child bearing, and child rearing etc., and

(v) A common habitation, home or household.

Key Words : origin and characteristics, family, group, nomenclature, economic needs, child bearing

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