According to sociology and anthropology, the primary function of the family is to reproduce society, both (or either) biologically and (or) socially. Thus, one’s experience of one’s family shifts over time. From the perspective of children, the family is a family of orientation: the family serves to locate children socially, and plays a major role in their enculturation and socialization. From the point of view of the parent(s), the family is a family of procreation the goal of which is to produce and enculturate and socialize children. However, producing children is not the only function of the family. In societies with a sexual division of labor, marriage, and the resulting relationship between a husband and wife, is necessary for the formation of an economically productive household. In modern societies marriage entails particular rights and privilege that encourage the formation of new families even when there is no intention of having children.
The structure of families traditionally hinges on relations between parents and children, between spouses, or both. Consequently, there are three major types of family: matrifocal, consanguinal, and conjugal. (Note: these are ideal families. In all societies there are acceptable deviations from the ideal or statistical norm, owing either to incidental circumstances, such as the death of a member of the family or infertility, or personal preferences).
A matrifocal family consists of a mother and her children. Generally, these children are her biological offspring, although adoption of children is a practice in nearly every society. This kind of family is common where women have the resources to rear their children by themselves, or where men are more mobile than women.
A consanguinal family consists of a mother and her children, and other people — usually the family of the mother. This kind of family is common where mothers do not have the resources to rear their children on their own, and especially where property is inherited. -(This is the pattern of family that we used to see in the northern Kerala where marumakkathaayam is practiced. The term tarawad is originally used for this family structure
When important property is owned by men, consanguinal families commonly consist of a husband and wife, their children, and other members of the husband’s family. This is the pattern of family that we used to see in the central and southern part of Kerala. The term tarawad is used by extension for this family structure also.
A conjugal family consists of one or more mothers and their children, and/or one or more spouses (usually husbands). This kind of family is common where men desire to assert control over children, or where there is a sexual division of labor requiring the participation of both men and women, and where families are relatively mobile.
A nuclear family. The Western model of a nuclear family consists of a couple and their children. The nuclear family is ego-centered and impermanent, while descent groups are permanent (lasting beyond the lifespans of individual constituents) and reckoned according to a single ancestor.
Marriage is a socially sanctioned union, typically of one man and one woman, in this connection called husband and wife. Typically they form a family, socially, through forming a household, which is often subsequently extended biologically, through children. It is found in all societies, but in widely varying forms.
Kinship and descent
Kinship and descent is one of the major concepts of anthropology. Cultures worldwide possess a wide range of systems of tracking kinship and descent. Anthropologists break these down into simple concepts which are common among many different cultures.
A descent group is a social group whose members claim common ancestry. A unilineal society is one in which the descent of an individual is reckoned either from the mother’s or the father’s descent group. With matrilineal descent individuals belong to their mother’s descent group. With patrilineal descent, individuals belong to their father’s descent group.
In a society which reckons descent bilineally, descent from both father and mother is equally important.
Lineages, clans, phratries and moieties
A lineage is a descent group who can demonstrate their common descent from an apical ancestor. Lineages can be matrilineal or patrilineal, depending on whether they are traced through mothers or fathers, respectively. Whether matrilineal or patrilineal descent is considered most significant differs from culture to culture.
A clan is a descent group that claims common descent from an apical ancestor but cannot demonstrate it (stipulated descent). If a clan’s apical ancestor is nonhuman, it is called a totem. Examples of clans are Scottish, Chinese and Japanese clans.
A phratry is a descent group containing at least two clans which have a supposed common ancestor.
If a society is divided into exactly two descent groups, each is called a moiety, after the French word for half.
The scientific study of human social behavior. As the study of humans in their collective aspect, sociology is concerned with all group activities: economic, social, political, and religious. Sociologists study such areas as bureaucracy, community, deviant behavior, family, public opinion, social change, social mobility, social stratification, and such specific problems as crime, divorce, child abuse, and substance adtiction. Sociology tries to determine the laws governing human behavior in social contexts. (source: www.iversonsoftware.com/sociology)
The process by which two or more previous racial, ethnic, or nationality identified groups intermarry and produce offspring that are of new racial stock. (source: www.iversonsoftware.com/sociology)
The study of culture in small, pre-industrial societies. (source: www.iversonsoftware.com/sociology)
The conformity of members of ethnic groups to the culture of the dominant group (source: www.iversonsoftware.com/sociology)
A social category in a stratification system in which membership depends on ascribed statuses and cannot be changed after birth. (source: www.iversonsoftware.com/sociology)
Cultural System –
A functional theoretical model of culture seen as a system of interrelated parts, and concerned with the analysis of the functional interaction of the parts within the total system. Following Parsons, the cultural system is usually distinguished from the social system, the personality system, and the biological system. When referring to both the social and cultural systems the term sociocultural system is used.(source: www.iversonsoftware.com/sociology)
Culture Lag –
An instance in which technological change occurs before cultural norms and values can be introduced to govern its use.(source: www.iversonsoftware.com/sociology)
Ethnic Group –
A set of people who identify with a common cultural heritage.(source: www.iversonsoftware.com/sociology)
An attitude that one’s own culture, society, or group is inherently superior to all others. Judging other cultures by your own cultural standards and since, of course, other cultures are different, they are therefore inferior. Ethnocentrism means an inability to appreciate others whose culture may include a different racial group, ethnic group, religion, morality, language, political system, economic system, etc. It also means an inability to see a common humanity and human condition facing all women and men in all cultures and societies beneath the surface variations in social and cultural traditions.(source: www.iversonsoftware.com/sociology)
The set of manners and customary acts that characterize everyday life in a social system.(source: www.iversonsoftware.com/sociology)
Pluralism (ethnic) –
The coexistence of diverse ethnic groups in the same society.(source: www.iversonsoftware.com/sociology)