A joint family comprises members of the family that are related one another and share a common ancestry, religion, and property. All the working members of the family pool together what they earn and ha them over to the head who is usually the eldest.
The family head takes care of the entire family. Any member who brings in extra money has equal status. Hence, the joint family puts into practice the concept: ‘To each according to his needs, from each accord to his abilities.” The idea is socialistic in character.
The joint family system is a feature of agricultural societies. These are in existence in countries as China and India whose economy is based on agricultural produce. Collective living, collective fanning and collective share in family wealth are the traditional features of the joint.
The joint family preserves the tradition, customs and mariners handed down to it. Traditional culture and skill in art and craft are safeguarded from generation to generation. There is division of labour where the members attend to different work and contribute to the welfare of the family as a unit.
A joint family provides an ideal setting for culture of virtues. The foundation of joint family is based on cooperation and unselfishness and tolerance. Children are taught from young age the virtues of patience, respect for elders, discipline, good habits. Each thing has to be shared. The congenial atmosphere becomes a nursery for the cultivation of virtues.
For persons living in nuclear families there is a feeling of insecurity. This feeling of insecurity is not there in a joint family where the unemployed, the sick, the aged and the handicapped are well taken care of. There is a sense of social security, and old age and illness are not looked upon with fear.
In a nuclear family, a working mother tries her best to strike a balance between service and household chores. At the same time she tries to be a good mother and a good wife. However, the joint system may at times prove a hindrance to individual enterprise and initiative.
The joint family has a number of advantages. However, it does not always work. When many people of different mentality and disposition live under one common roof, negative human traits are bound to crop up. Members then have a tendency to stress on their rights and ignore their duties. When this kind of attitude prevails, the atmosphere is not conducive to peace and harmony.
With many changes in the political, social and economic spheres, the Hindu joint family appears to be outmoded for present times. Joint property goes hand in hand with the joint family. When the joint family property is divided, the joint family gets dismembered.
Today technical skill is acquired in professional fields by training in technical institutions. It need not be passed on from generation to generation.
Modern means of communication and the trend of urbanising rural areas have brought new ideas and a new society has evolved which is in close touch with cities that offer all the comforts and joys of modern life. Thus, the joint family system is lessening.
Also, the feeling of social security present in a joint family often makes the members idle and lazy. Hard work is rarely rewarded and laziness seldom punished. Thus members lose initiative. There is also lack of dynamism.
There could be resistance to new customs and progressive ideas of young people by the elder generation. Old customs and traditions are enforced without finding out the views of the young. Lack of privacy may adversely affect freedom of couples or individualism in a joint.
There are advantages and disadvantages. Much depends on the nature of individual members. In rural areas, nature of people is always) simple and cooperative. In the final, much depends on the degree of adaptability of the members comprising the joint whether they are refined personalities or otherwise whether they would cherish the blessings of a joint or whether they would prefer to stay separate.