The social institution of the family is one of our oldest institutions. Through the years it has gone through some changes and many challenges. In this paper I will describe what the social institution of the family is, its functions, how it is failing in the United States, and how other countries are dealing with these issues.
The Family as a Social Institution
A social institution is an organization that puts in place a set of norms to connect an individual with the rest of society. There are predominantly five social institutions found among human groups, these are family, religion, government, education, and economics. The primary functions of a social institution are to satisfy the basic needs of a society, to define the social values within a society, establish certain norms for social behavior, support other institutions, and to give social roles for individuals within society. Social institutions are the foundations of societies to provide the necessary structure to maintain development, order, and provide for basic needs within a society (Cravens, 2011). A family is defined as two or more people who are related by marriage, blood, or adoption. In Western society the family as a social institution primarily consists of parents and their children. In other parts of the world families can consist of a husband having more than one wife which is classified as polygyny, and a wife who has more than one husband which is classified as polyandry. The primary functions of the family as a social institution are to provide socialization to the members of that unit, to provide new members to society, to teach the social norms of sexual behavior, and to provide the economic and emotional stability within the family unit (Henslin, 2008). Of the various types of social institutions, the institution of family is a vital component of life and has a significant amount of impact on the course of the lives of individuals. The development cycle of an individual, the experiences that they go through, the type of behavior that they show and their degree of adjustment to the social changes in their lives are affected by the social institution of family. The institution of American family has changed in many aspects in the times after World War II. Discussion
After the times of World War II, the general American ideas about the family changed and the role of the family as a support system was expanded to include the functions associated with a broader sense of completion and fulfillment. The new definitions of family were now associated with a sense of comfort which arose from the family’s interpretation as a base which could help share the problem, worries and emotional circumstances of a human being. In the post-World War II ages, when the aftermath of the war faded and people started developing a sense of rebuilding their lives, the ideas associated with the social institution of American family were altered and developed in the form of nuclear families and the people of America started investing the emotional and financial aspects to their lives in the idea of nuclear families. Different fields of life promoted a domestic sort of thought which redefined the traditional family values found in the earlier era and laid the foundation for nuclear families. The idea of nuclear families was based on clearly defined and divided gender roles. This idea classified the man or husband of the family as the earner and the woman or wife of the family as the one to lay the groundwork for the domestic life. The political viewpoint also focused on this idea of the family to achieve stability during unstable times. The role of family as a social institution in those times was to meet the requirements and needs of people with the help of complete satisfaction. This was the ideal which underlined the American societies of those times but all the families did not act in accordance with these standards (Rotskoff, 2002, p....