What are the Universal Characteristics of a Family?


Family is the basic unit structure of a society and is found in every culture and almost all geographical locations and at all times. However, its characteristics features may differ from place to place and society to society.

Emotional Basis:

Emotional attachment between father-mother, parent-children and between siblings, keeps the family members together as a unit.

Limited Size:

Since family is a group of people related to each other by the bonds of blood, adoption or marriage; the number of members in each group is limited thus restricting the size of the family.

Formative Influence:

The family has a positive formative influence on all its members. The younger's ones are dependent wholly on the family for physical, mental, emotional development and may find it hard to survive without it. The grown-up members too are dependant on the family for psychological development and emotional feedback.

Nuclear position in the social structure:

Family is like a unit block in the formation of a social set-up and it performs various functions. Although today many of its functions are taken upon by the various social institutions, yet the central status of family is indispensable.

Responsibility of Members:

Each member of the family has a responsibility towards other family members, towards family and towards society.

Social Regulations:

Family is bound to run by certain family and social regulations. These various rules called taboos, customs, laws etc., vary in different cultures. An individual is not free to overlook these (family and social) regulations which were rather more strict in olden days as compared to the present-day society.

Permanent and Temporary Nature:

Family as an association is temporary in nature. When one of the partners in a marriage dies, the association ends; thus the association is temporary in nature. On the other hand, family as an institution keeps changing its member and has permanent existence.