What is a family institution?
In simple terms, a family can be referred to as a group that is deliberately created or created by the virtue of birth. It may be created to serve various purposes like for protection and security, sense of belonging, controlled and disciplined behavior and even for the mating purpose.
The word family is said to have been derived from the Roman word ‘famulus’ meaning servant and from the Latin word ‘familia’ meaning household.
Therefore, the etymological meaning of the word family would be “The family is generally regarded a locus of much of a person’s social activity. It is a social unit created by blood, marriage, or adoption, for the purpose of support and mutual growth.
What purpose does a family serve?
To understand what the characteristics of the family as an institution are it is necessary to understand its purpose, existence, and origin. The main function of the family is considered as the continuation of the human race which is through giving birth and properly nurturing and caring for the child beside this a family as helps fulfill sexual needs and also provide a sense of commitment and sexual fidelity.
Characteristics of the family institution can be divided into various general and specific characteristics which may or may not be applicable to all families but are generally followed
The general characteristics of the family institution can be explained as follows:
General characteristics are referred to as those characteristics that are customary and are generally applicable to all families and are the basis for the creation and sustenance of family as an institution.
According to J.L. Rachroo , “family is a universal concept, the sexual urge of men and women, the desire of a woman to bear a child, of a man to perpetuate his line and of the both to look after their procreation, coupled with the desire of economic security for leisure and for pleasure on the basis of division of labour may have contributed to the origin of the family.
Universality: the family has existed in every age and in every society, i.e. Every individual is or has been a part of a family. It never happens that an individual never has a family as a family is a necessity. It is necessary to understand that to a child born and abandoned the parents who abandon him are his immediate family until he or she marries and makes his or her own family
Fixed habitation: in the daily life if an individual doesn’t have a home the life would be one of great unrest as it would be haphazard in nature. A family has a specific place of habitation known as a home and it provides a safe space to all the members of the family a so-called ‘haven’. It also provides orderliness to human life.
Economic stability or financial provisions: Every family has some or the other kind of financial provisions that help fulfill the needs of all the members of the family. This provision could be by means of working and getting money in the house. For example, a father in a family is expected to be the bread earner of the family and he has to go and work and earn money for the sustenance of the family.
A sense of responsibility among members: the family is a very closely related group of people where each individual has a responsibility towards other members of the family. The family provides full security to all members including the young and the old. For example, when such responsibility is ignored as in the case of abandoning of a child or an old mother or father it results in breaking up of the family i.e. it disorganizes a family.
Emotional connection/support/basis: the integration bonds in a family are mutual affection and blood ties. A family is a closed entity and is held together not only due to a tag but also due to emotional ties. For example, a mother for the child may make great sacrifices which for someone else she would abstain from doing, this happens due to the emotional connection between them.
A mating relationship: the basic existence of a family depends upon the mating relationship. A family comes into existence when a man and a woman have a mating relationship. This relationship also supports the institution of marriage. It also regulates the behaviors of various members of the family like maintaining sexual fidelity or exclusivity.
A form of marriage/ supports the institution of marriage: a family pre-supposes the institution of marriage. It is assumed that a mating relationship is established through the institution of marriage.
Therefore like every other institution even the family institution has various salient features which make it very necessary and important in the human life and also help it perform its role.