Definition, Characteristics, Types - Family | 12th Nursing : Chapter 4 : Applied Sociology

Chapter: 12th Nursing : Chapter 4 : Applied Sociology


Family is a more or less durable association of husband and wife with or without child or of a man or woman alone with children.


The family forms the basic unit of social organization and it is difficult to imagine how human society could function without it. The family has been seen as an universal social institution and it is an inevitable part of the society.


The family is a group of persons united by ties of marriage, blood or adoption constituting a single household interacting with each other in their respective social role of husband and wife, mother and father, brother and sister creating a common culture -Burgess and Lock

Family is a more or less durable association of husband and wife with or without child or of a man or woman alone with children.



Characteristics Of Family

Universality: Malinowski writes the typical family a group consisting of mother, father and their progeny is found in all communities, savage, barbarians and civilized.

Emotional basis: It is built upon sentiments of love, affection, sympathy, cooperation and friendship.

Limited size: The family is smaller in size.

It is a smallest social unit.

Formative influence: It shapes the personality and molds the character of its members.

Responsibility of the members:

The members of the family has certain responsibilities, duties and obligations.

Social regulation: The society takes precaution to safeguard this organization from any possible breakdown.


Types of The Family

Based on Birth

Family of Orientation: The family in which an individual is born is his family of orientation his family of orientation.

Family of Procreation: The family where an individual sets up after his/her marriage is his/her family of procreation.

Based on Marriage

Monogamous Family: This family consists of one husband and wife, including children and is based on monogamous marriages.

Polygynous Family: A family consisting of one husband, and more than one wife, and all the children born to all the wives or adopted by each of them.

Polyandrous Family: A family made up of one wife and more than one husband, and the children, either born or adopted with each one of them.

Based on Residence

Family of Matrilocal Residence: When a couple stays in the wife’s house, the family is known as family of matrilocal residence.

Family of Patrilocal Residence: When a family stays in the house of husband, the family is known as family of patrilocal residence.

Family of Changing Residence: When a family stays in the husband’s house for some time, and moves to wife’s house, stays there for a period of time, and then moves back to husband’s parents, or starts living in another place, the family is called a family of changing­ residence.

Based on Ancestry or Descent

Matrilineal Family: When ancestry or descent is traced through the female line, or through the mother’s side, the family is called matrilineal family.

Patrilineal Family: A family in which the authority is carried down the male line, and descent is traced through the male line or the father’s side, is called a patrilineal family.

Based on Authority

Matriarchal Family: In these families, a woman is the head of the family, and authority is vested in her.

The matriarchal family is known as mother centered or mother dominated family. The mother or the woman is the head of the family.

Patriarchal Family: In patriarchal families, the head of the family is a male, and authority is vested with him.

The patriarchal family is also known as father centered or father dominated family.

Based on the Nature of Relations

Conjugal Family: A conjugal family includes only the husband, wife and unmarried children who are not adults. This is also referred as nuclear family.

Consanguine Family: A consanguine family consists of a parent, his or her children and other relatives

Based on the size or structure:

Nuclear Family: A nuclear family is a small group consisting of a husband, a wife and children, natural or adopted.

Joint Family: A joint family consists of three generation, living together under the same roof, sharing the same kitchen and purse or economic expenses.

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