Family as a Primary Group

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Family as a Primary Group

Social Problems
Garelick
August 2010

Family as a Primary Group
Family plays an important role in the life of every person and society as a whole. It is no surprise that at every new stage of development in our society, with every revaluation of values, the interest in the issues of family, morality and spirituality spikes. At the present time, in the complicated environments through which we weave our lives, the family remains a unique mediator between the interests of the individual and society and is in the epicenter of a major social upheaval. The transition to current market relations and with them the related apathy, and with the impoverishment of the general population drastically came the turnaround in the view affecting the well-being of our families and their stability and potential for proper upbringing of the young.

These, along with many other social instabilities, have led to a crisis of family values. The consequences of this crisis are bifurcations between the generations, the prevalence of reduced lifetime fertility and the growing number of single parents in the United States. If marriage, parenthood and kinship are what constitute family relations, at the present time we are witnessing a decay of this little tiny trinity. The problem is complicated by the fact that at present time, the institution of marriage is going through a transitional period. There is a certain destruction of the old traditional values of marriage, and the new have yet to be formed.

Marriage and family are increasingly becoming more about individuals and their need for intimate satisfaction and informal communication, and less about structure and support of one another.
Let us pinpoint and define just where the family lays its essence within the complicated world of social institutions and in which groups, as defined by our text.
In a broad sense, the concept of a social group is any social association of people, anything from peer groups to a population of a particular country. In sociology, this concept is used in a narrower sense as "any number of people with similar norms, values, and expectations who interact with one another on a regular basis” (Schaefer, 2009, p. 107). In general, members of a society feel like they belong to a group, and are also perceived by others as members of said group.

To analyze the social structure of a society there must be items explored that appear in all elementary parts of the given society, which incorporate all of the social perspectives. For this, I have chosen what is generally accepted to be the “primary group” (Schaefer, 2009, p. 110).

The most successful definition, and essentially creation of the term, was created by “Charles Horton Cooley” who “coined the term… to refer to a small group characterized by intimate, face-to-face association and cooperation” (Schaefer, 2009, p. 110). In other words, primary groups are those in which individuals have personal interaction with one another. For example, classmates can be members of a primary group, and the rest of the student body would then be members of a secondary group.

From a social perspective of a “functionalist” for the normal operation of the human society we must consolidate certain types of social relations so that they become mandatory for members of a particular social group (Schaefer, 2009, p. 14). This primarily refers to those social relations in which, in order to obtain entry, members of a certain group must satisfy the most vital requirements needed for the successful functioning of the given group as an integrated social unit. For example, for the production of material comforts, people tend to perpetuate and secure a level of financial cushioning; this is also done for the upbringing of children, for unstrained family relationships, as well as for education and training for everyone involved.

A symbolic “interactionist” would view the family process as a consolidation of...
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