2nd year MA Sociology
University of Madras
Marriage and family are two universal social institutions which have been in existence since time immemorial. These are two social institutions with biological foundations which are complimentary to each other. These two institutions have been permanent elements in our social system and have withstood the ravages of time, and the shock of centuries. There is no definition which adequately covers all types of marriage, however the institution of marriage has been established by human society to control and regulate the sex life of human beings. Simplistically marriage can be defined as a socially approved mating relationship. Marriage is a corner stone of society and a very necessary part of Indian social system. Dr S Radhakrishnan in his book “Religion and society” observes “Marriage is not a mere convention but an implicit condition of human society. It is an adjustment between the biological purposes of nature and the sociological purposes of man”, He further says ”it is an institution, a device for the expression and development of love.”Its purpose is not only the generation and nurturing of children but also “the enrichment of the personality of the husband and wife, through the fulfillment of their need for a permanent comradeship, in which each may supplement the life of the other, and both may achieve completeness. Marriage is the very foundation of civil society. It has been regarded by all religions as the basis of civil society , sound moral system and domestic affection. Family is the most significant unit of the society and marriage is the foundation of it. In short we may say that marriage is a union of two people of the opposite sexes to a lifelong reciprocal passion of their sexual qualities, which aims at the individuals, biological, emotional, social and spiritual fulfillment and development, which cannot be achieved in isolation.
The importance of marriage consists in the functions it performs. The main functions of marriage are:- (a)Regulation of Sex Life. Marriage is the powerful instrument to regulate the sex life of man. Sexual impulse is powerful in man. It needs to be controlled and regulated in a proper manner to avoid chaos and confusion in society. Marriage has come to be such a regulative means. Hence marriage is often called the license for sex life. (b)Marriage regulates sex relations. Sex relations between close relatives ie:-father daughter ,mother son, brother sister etc are prohibited. This is called incest taboo, and is one of the oldest rules universally. Marriage also puts restriction on pre marital and extra marital sex relations. (c)Marriage leads to Establishment of Family. Sexual satisfaction offered by marriage results in self-perpetuation. Marriage insists on the couple to establish a family of procreation. It is here that the children are born and brought up. It is marriage which determines the descent of the new born individual. Inheritance and succession follow the rule of descent. (d) Provides for Economic Cooperation. Marriage makes division of labour possible on the basis of sex. Partners in marriage can distribute and divide work among themselves to enhance and elevate their economic status. (e)Contributes to Emotional and Interstimulation of Partners. Marriage brings together life partners and helps them to develop love and affection towards each other. It deepens emotional ties and strengthens companionship between the two. It also helps in intellectual cooperation between them. (f)Marriage aims at Social Solidarity. Marriage not only brings two individuals together but also their respective families, groups and kindred’s. Friendship between groups is reinforced through marriage. By encouraging marriage between different groups, castes, classes, religious, linguistic and other communities, it is possible to minimize the social...