Sociologists had commonly assumed that modern family and population behaviour were innovations resulting from industrialization and that the predominant household form in the pre-industrial society had been extended family.
It was argued that industrialization destroyed the three generation co resident family structure and led to the emergence of the isolated nuclear family—a structure more compatible with the demands of the modern industrial system. Some of the recent scholars, Peter Lisle and his Cambridge group have firmly established the predominance of a nuclear household structure in the industrial Western Europe and it’s persistence over at least past three centuries.
A critical distinction was made between family and household structure often including non kinds in addition to the members of family. The most important conclusion emerging from the first wave of historical research was that industrialization did not break down the traditional extended family and lead to the emergence of isolated nuclear family.
In many respects, the household continued to function as an economic unit even after it had been stripped of its major functions in production. A flexible unit, the household expanded and contracted in response to the family’s need. Prior to the emergence of welfare state, the kinship network of the household formed the base of social security.
More recently, historians have documented the continuity of kinship ties in the process of migrations and the important role of kinds in the adaptation to new environments. The overall tendency was to include non kins in the households rather than kilns outside the nuclear family.
In a study entitled social structure, Murdock examined the institution of family in a wide range of societies. In a sample of 250 societies ranging from small hunting and gathering bands to large scale industrial societies, he claimed that some form of family existed in every society and concluded that the family is universal.
He defined family as ‘a social group characterized by common residence, economic co-operation and re-production. It includes adults of both sexes, at least two of whom maintain a socially approved sexual relationship and one or more children—own or adopted of the sexually cohabiting adults.
Many other social scientists also maintain that the nuclear family, even when embedded in other kinship structures is universal and that this universality is based on it’s necessity for carrying out the basic and necessary sexual, economic, procreative and educational functions required by every society.
The functionalist theorists emphasize on the biological human compulsions of the helpless condition of human child and the mother and the prolonged infancy of human child as necessitating family. The question of whether the nuclear family structure is universal or necessary is becoming increasingly relevant today with divorce having acquired greater incidence in western industrialized societies and many families headed by single parent also existing there. Even to the extent that Kibbutz in Israel were created divesting of nuclear family.
But both before and after Murdock’s study, exceptions to this picture have been cited specifically the Nayars of Malabar, but by and large Murdock’s Judgment has meant general approval.
An examination of the Kubbutz led Spiro (1954) to conclude that from a functional and psychological view point it is possible to see the Kibbutz as a large extended family. The Kibbutz may have eliminated nuclear family (by deliberate effort of antifamilies), it did so only by converting the entire community into a single gemeinschaft
In another study, Levy (1955) asked ‘Whether the nuclear family was institutionalized in all societies?’ He pointed out that even though the statuses of father, mother, spouses, sister and brother may be present, they may not function as a nuclear family unit.
According to Adams (1960), social organization is flexible enough to permit different forms of family to co-exist, in many cases some of the statuses of nuclear family may not function at all as a nuclear family unit.
These statuses are present in every society, they may be differently filled and function differently as there are more elemental forms of family than nuclear family such as Maternal dyad—a residential unit composed of the mother an one or more children Adult woman (no, necessarily nibs wire; based simply on sexual act which may be further sanctioned by marriage. Paternal dyad: Composed of father and one or more children (comparatively very rarely found in societies).
2. Extended Family:
In quite a large number of societies, nuclear family exists as embedded in larger kinship units consisting of three generation co-residence groups called as extended family. An extended family is not just a collection of nuclear families.
It is infect a different family system in which it is the kinship ties and not the conjugal ties (as in nuclear families) that are important and involved in the organization of the family group.
The ties of linearity between the generations are more important than the bonds of marriage. When group includes vertical extension in the same line it is called vertically extended family. But when it is the extension of generations of siblings—it is horizontally extended family.
As a matter of fact, the independent or isolated nuclear family is the ideal either in hunting and food gathering societies or in industrialized western societies—both characterised by the excessive mobility of their populations.
Extended family is the ideal in almost half of the world’s societies. Apart form this; they may be organized around males or females. The former are called as matrilineal extended families and the latter called as matrilineal extended family.
Matrilineal extended families are organized around a woman and her daughters as among the Nayars of south India or Khakis of Meghalaya. The matrilineal extended families are organized around a Male and his male descendants as was the ideal in traditional Chinese society. The elder members are lost through death the new members are added through birth.
Dissolution of the marital ties between some of the members does not affect the continuity of the group. Most extended family systems do give some recognition to the nuclear family with the only exception of the Nayars of south India among whom the conjugal ties are completely absent.
Extended family systems are opposite of nuclear family systems. It is more precisely to oppose conjugal to filial system. That is, the contrast groups composed of spouses and dependent children with groups composed of parents and adult children their spouses and off springs.
The extended family is clearly adaptive under certain economic and social conditions. The main advantages of this type of family are economic particularly in predominantly cultivating societies.
It can provide a large number of workers than the nuclear family. Primitive conditions being labour intensive, it is useful both for food production and for producing and marketing handicraft.
The settled cultivators own land which should not be divided into smaller pieces through inheritance which renders it unproductive. The extended families a way of keeping land intact. It also inculcates companionship and a sense of participation as most of the every day activities are carried out jointly. Apart from economic advantages, it also provides social security to the elders with a sense of dignity.
3. Joint Family:
Family based on blood relations extending over three or more generation—known as extended family, acquires a slightly different form of a joint family when this structural form is subject to certain cultural norms converting it into a corporate group.
A joint family has vertical as well as horizontal extensions and has a bigger size than only vertically extended family. The main characteristic feature of the joint family is the indivisibility and common sharing of the property.
The property belongs to the family. The family members have the obligations to maintain it and share the benefits of property commonly. Since this requires proper management and some one to be responsible for it, traditionally it is the eldest male member who has the right to manage the property and the responsibility to see that none is deprived of the benefits of the property.
As the manager or the ‘Karta’ of the joint family, he also weld’s authority and enjoys the respect and the confidence of the other family members. A characteristic pattern of Hindus in India, it has developed as a philosophy of life where individualistic motives have to be suppressed in favour of the family interest. A joint family may also sometimes include distant kinds.
Not all members may have similar capacity and skill to work. This at times develops bickering among the more active and therefore more productive members. It is here that the judicious role of the manger becomes important. The rule of distribution of work according to capacity and skill and disbursement of benefits according to the needs has made it as a source of social insurance for such members who are physically disabled, mentally abnormal or the victims of protracted illness.
Their wives and children have not to suffer because Of the disability of the bread-winner. It is also characterised by a common kitchen and a common code of conduct for all the members.
This family system has been compatible with agrarian background of Indian Economy with predominantly male preference for many privileges; women enjoyed little of status or freedom in such a system.
With the advent of British rule in India, there have been certain changes which had a long term influence on this institution. The first and the foremost has been the western education which has brought in value system in which individualism acquires the prime motive for all the behaviors and which also opened up the opportunities for the women in education and right in property, etc.
This was a severe blow on the prevailing philosophy of life which sustained the institution for a long time. Bruisers also gradually started establishing industries which suited their economic interest. A number of urban centres were created around these industrial centres.
There was mass scale exodus of people from rural joint families to grab these opportunities. Thus industrialization and urbanization made erosions in the structure of the joint family so that the system is on the verge of collapse if not totally broken and set apart.