On the basis of authority and power family may be classified into the following three types. They are:
i) Patriarchal Family:
In this family the power and authority is vested in the hands of the male member of the family. In other words the patriarch or father is the; center of power and authority. He is the owner and administrator of the family property and right. He exercises un challengeable authority over his family members. In this family descent is reckoned through father line. So children are known by the name of their father. It is patria local in nature i.e., the wife after marriage comes to live in the home of the husband. The children have the right to inherit the property of their father. Generally, the ownership of the family property is transferred through father to son and more particularly the eldest son succeeds the position of his father after his father’s death. The male head of the family performs all religious functions and offers sacrifices to the family gods. He is the legal representative of his family before the law. Thus, in patriarchal family, father or the eldest male member is the protector and ruler of the family and enjoys full authority over the family members. This type of family was the prevailing type in all greater civilization of antiquity says MacIver. The Indian joint family and well-to-do families of Japan and China are patriarchal in nature.
ii) Matriarchal Family:
Matriarchal family is just the opposite of patriarchal family. It is also known as maternal family or mother-right family or mother dominated family. In this family, the authority rests with mother or some other female members. She owns all the family property and rules the family as male member, in case of patriarchic family. Descent is reckoned through the mother. The female members alone have the right to succeed to property of a maternal family. Thus husband is sub-ordinate to his wife and plays a secondary role. This type of family is found among the Nayer and Tiya castes in Kerala, the Khasi and Garo tribes of Assam and the North American Indians.
iii) Egalitarian Family:
When power and authority are shared by husband and wife in the family they said family is termed as egalitarian family. This type of family is also known as equalitarian family or symmetrical Family. In this type of family, both husband and wife are more alike. They take decisions jointly. Both sons and daughters inherit family property equally. In short, this type of family provides equals opportunity to both male and female to enjoy their rights and authority. In modern societies this type of family is very common.