Value of family in society

1. Primary Group

Family is the first institution in the history of man. In the ancient age men lived in small families, which lacked any kind of organization or permanence. But they served to fulfil simple biological and psychological needs.

Generally, the family consisted of husband and wife and their offspring. The powerful men possessed many wives and thus them Lved in big families with their wives and children. When man became oriented in agriculture, many families formed a group and stayed permanently at some place for farming.


When these people started partaking of each other’s pain and happiness as neighbourly gestures, social relations increased and in this way many families formed a community and the next step was the creation of nation. In this way family is that primary group which slowly evolved into human nations.

2. Fundamental Unit

Family is a fundamental unit of human society. Its foundations rest upon man’s biological and psychological needs. In the modern age, many functions of the family have shifted to other institutions but nevertheless, there are many biological and psychological needs which man cannot satiate without family. Havelock Ellis, in his penetrative essays, has shown that the importance of a mother’s milk for the

Said cannot be obtained in any other manner. Psychologists have proved that the absence of family affection has a serious impact upon the child’s development. Sexual passions can be satisfied even outside the family but it can never be the source of emotional fulfilment.


The statement ‘man is a social animal’ implies that man cannot live without a family. Thus family is a fundamental unit of society.

3. Nuclear Situation

The family has a nuclear situation in human society. In primitive societies the entire organization is based on the family unit’s whiie the division of labour in society is also based on the family.

In the complex structure which is society today, the family has lost some of its importance, but even today the activities of most members are of the family or contiguous to it. It is seen that people work and labour more for the comfort of their wives, children and other members of family than even for personal comforts. Thus even now the family is the nucleus of a major part of man’s activities.


4. Basis of Organisation

Proper social organization depends upon proper organization of families. If the families disintegrate in some society, then the society will never be safe. One major cause of social disorganization is family disorganization.

Families develop the characters of the members of society. Freud and other psychologists have proved that a, child, when a man, exhibits the same character and mental tendencies which he acquires in the family. In the opinion of Adler, a man’s role in the family determines his role in society,

5. Socialization


In this way, person is socialized in the family. Defining family, Merrill writes, “Family is an enduring association of parent and offspring whose primary functions are the socialization of the child and the satisfaction of (he members.” According to Dewey and Tufts the family is a social agency for the education and protection of the race.

It is in the family that the child acquires such important qualities as sincerity, sympathy, self submission and realising responsibility, etc. It is the character developed in the family which helps the child in becoming an important and responsible member of society.

Wright was quite correct in stating that in every family, the child gets an opportunity for free expression of thoughts and developing his entire personality. Psychologists have incontestably proved that the proper development of the child is impossible without a good environment in the family.

The tendencies and habits which he acquires in the family, he finds impossible to shed later on. According to Freud, the viewpoint of a child towards the senior in the family determines his attitude and viewpoint towards the elders in society.


The child’s first school is his home and family. According to R.G. Collingwood, the child’s education should be in the hands of the parents in the family. The parents should participate in all the child’s activities.

A child learns much by imitating his superiors. M.K. Gandhi and such thinkers paid personal attention to the development of their children. It is the family which imparts practical education to the child concerning the customs in society, conduct, other important elements of culture, preservation of health, love, sympathy, cooperation etc.

It is evident from the above account that family is the primary and fundamental unit. Confucious remarked quite correctly that if you want to improve society improve its families. Society will improve automatically when the families improve

6. Continuing of Traditions


The family moulds the character and personality of the individual. It is through the family that society imparts its culture to the individual. Thus the family is very important in the form of socializing agency. In the essay, “The Family Conveyance of Tradition,” Paul Schreker wrote that a particular function of the family is to sanction children. Like marriage, the institution of family is constituted by different elements of culture. It is due to this reason that it has religious, judicL,

Basic and Universal Functions of the Family

The following are the basic and universal functions:

1. Biological functions.

The most fundamental biological functions are:

(a) Reproduction

According to the Hindu Shastras procreation is the main function of the family. Commentors on the Hindu Shastras have written that the religious activities of man cannot be consummated unless he has a son and he cannot repay his ancestral debts. He has to suffer in hell if he has no son.

In almost all societies of the world barren women are the objects of scorn and derision. And in some societies marriageability is attributed only to a woman who gives evidence of her fertility by conceiving a child before marriage. Hindu Shastras permit a second marriage if there is no issue from the first wife.

The woman conceives a child from another man through sniyoga’ if her husband is impotent or otherwise incapable of procreation.

In most human societies of the world the child is believed to be the nucleus of the family. Procreation perpetuates the family; it increases the population of the country. Some Hindu thinkers have considered reproduction to be the sole aim of marriage. In the rituals of Hindu marriage the groom says to his bride that I accept you in order to obtain good offspring.

(b) Procuring of food, housing and clothing

Food, housing and clothing are indispensable to the existence of human life. A major biological function of the family is the procuring of these amenities for its members.

The earning members’ of the family provides food and clothing for all the rest. Every family has a house to live in and the food for the family members is generally cooked at home.

2. Psychological function

The second fundamental and universal function of the family is psychological; Ogburn has included affectional functions in the necessary or vital functions of the family. According to Groves, it is the function of the family to provide opportunities for the establishment of intimate relations. Burgess and Locke have written, “Mutual affection is becoming the essential basis of marriage and the family.”

The individual receives affection, sympathy, love and psychological security in the family. The relations between man and woman in the family are not exclusively physical. Profound conjugal affection for each other is generated in husband and wife by working together in the family and by the sharing of each other’s joys and sorrows.

An all round development of the individual is not possible in the absence of family love. The family has an important part especially in the development of the child’s personality; Ralph Linton has written that merely the satisfaction of bodily needs is not sufficient for the proper development of the infant. Children are in greater need of individual attention, love and satisfaction of response.

3. Satisfaction of sexual needs

The fundamental function of the family, according to Reed, is to regulate and gratify sexual needs. It is one of the primary functions of the family. When sexual needs remain unsatisfied in the family it starts disintegrating. To quote Havelock Ellis, “With failure of sexual harmony, the marriage structure rests on shifting sands.”

4. Protection and care of the young

According to Groves the protection and care of children is one necessary function of the family. The human child is the most helpless and weak being. A family is needed in order to maintain its existence and to ensure its coordinated and balanced development. Its balanced development is achieved with difficulty without the care of the parents and other family members.