The reasons behind the endurance and universality of the family are largely grounded in the functions that it performs for individuals and for society. These are

(a) Member replacement and physical maintenance. In order to continue, every society must replace members who die and keep the survivor alive. Once children are born, they will be nurtured and protected within the family. It is the family that feeds clothes and shelters them.

(b) Regulation of sexual behaviour. The sexual attitudes and patterns of behaviour we learn in the family reflect societal norms and regulate our sexual behaviour. The societal norms specify under what conditions and with what partners sexual needs may be satisfied.

(c) The family carries out the serious responsibility of socializing each child. Family tells children to conform to socially approved pattern of behaviour. Family serves society as an instrument for the transmission of cultures.


(d) A person’s social identity is initially fixed by family membership – by being born to parents of a given status and characteristics.

(e) Till recently, the family was an important unit of both production and consumption. But modern families mainly earn incomes. Thus, their principal function is that of the consumption of goods and services which they purchase.

(f) The family as a primary group is an important source of affection, love and social interaction.

(g) Family membership in religious, political, economic, recreational and other kinds of organisations typically gives individuals an opportunity to participate in activities that might otherwise be closed to them.