The Family

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Briefly discuss the characteristics and functions of the family as a Social Institution in the Caribbean.

In society, human beings organize themselves into units such as families or households based on a biological relationship, marriage or kinship. According to George Peter Murdock (1949) the family is a social group characterized by common residence, economic co-operation and reproduction. It includes adults of both sexes, at least two of whom maintain a socially approved sexual relationship, and one or more children, their own or adopted, of the sexually cohabiting adults. Social institutions are structures or mechanism of social order and cooperation governing behaviour of individuals for specific purposes. The family is deemed as one of the oldest social institution as it is the cornerstone of society and is where children are socialized into social beings. The family also serves as a social institution since it is seen as the natural way to organize human life. The family can be characterized by class, colour, size, economic and social factors. According to Herbert Spencer, the family is an institution in society that is vital in maintaining order in society due to the functions that it performs. The family is effective as it helps to carry out functions essential for stability and continuity in society. The functionalists as the pro-family theory examine the ways in which family forms and structures meet the needs of society. The family form is said to provide well-balanced, socialized human beings who are in full agreement with the aims and goals of their society and fully equipped to take their place within it. On the other hand, the anti-family theories -Marxism, feminism and interactionism debate views against the functionalist. Talcott Parsons (1950s) reflects the importance of the family in the functionalist view of society which is deemed as the leading view. Parsons postulates two basic irreducible...
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