The joint family has, over the years, been instrumental in providing protection to members, recreation, economic support and socialism in wealth. It has also helped the members in the development of good qualities. As a significant institution, it has brought about the well being of its members. Some of the important functions of joint family may be stated below:
1. Economic Functions:
If we consider the role of joint family from the economic point of view, a number of advantages become visible: (i) First of all, it hinders the sub-division or fragmentation of the landed property. This results in increased production, (ii) Secondly, all the members, men, women and children, in a joint family perform their work on a co-operative basis, (iii) Thirdly, due to co-operative work, hardly any amount of money is spent on hired labour. On the other hand, saving is done as the household articles are purchased collectively and as the money which would have been spent on hired labour is saved.
2. Protective Function:
The joint family acts as a protective home for those who are physically weak or handicapped. It also provides protection to mentally weak members of the family. It is an asylum for the orphans and a comfortable home for the sick, old and destitute.
3. Recreational Function:
The members of a joint family are provided with many means of recreation in a friendly and stimulating atmosphere. The sources of recreation in a joint family are the stammering of infants, affection of mother, love and emotion among siblings and the joking relationships.
4. Acting as an agency of social control:
The joint family is an informal agency of social control. It controls the harmful and deviant tendencies of young members. It suppresses the anti-social and unsociable activities of its members.
5. Division of Labour:
Although all the members of a joint family work, they do not do the similar work. Rather they are given work in accordance with their own capacities. Agriculture being the main occupation of the rural people and joint family being the product of the rural society, all the members of a peasant family are engaged in the agricultural field in different capacities. For example, young male members till the land, sow the seeds, the women help their male counterparts in harvesting, the old members and the children watch the crops and so on thus, and they save hired labour.
6. Socialism in wealth:
In joint family socialism prevails because it maintains the socialistic ideal of “from each according to his ability and to each according to his needs”. Every member of the joint family performs his duty in accordance with his capacity and simultaneously consumes according to his necessity. Therefore, Sir Henry Maine has rightly pointed out that the joint family is like a corporation where the father acts as its trustee.