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The Family As A Social Institution

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The Family As A Social Institution The word family originally meant A Band Of Slaves.(Coontz 1999) It is worth noting this when looking at the origins of Families. For even when the word came to apply to persons affiliated by blood and marriage this was more in relation to the notion of families as authority relations rather than our modern terminology being of families as groups of loved ones. It is also important to note that marriage in those other than the elite in most white Christian societies was not a ceremony performed until the last 250 years or so. This was because of the way in which land and other things of value were to be divided and as only the rich had to worry about disbursement of assets after their deaths they were the only ones that needed in essence to be legally married. But regardless of the Religious and or legal ceremonies surrounding the union of marriage past or present the concept of family has remained very strong. The family has always been a fundamental building block for all societies. In essence it is the relationship between family members that has always determined the way in which a whole society and community can function. Through learning to show respect towards others in your own family, by being nurtured and cared for by this small group of individuals we are taught very strongly that that is the way in which our society has chosen to demonstrate to us how we should treat each other. ...read more.


As woman we are now able to have a great many more choices in what we choose to do with our lives. Hence the lower birth rate etc. The majority of women still chose to aspire to be married however and to have at least one child. In the last 300 to 400 years there has been increasing emphasis on the autonomy of the individual, on romantic love on the privacy of the couple, on affectionate relationships between couples and their children and with legal changes that have reduced the power of extended family over the nuclear family. In fact it seems that the 1950s were the pinnacle of this idealising of the nuclear family. At that time anyone who did not aspire to be a two-parent family with their own children was considered deviant. (Ehrenreich 1983) Then from the 1960s the idea of the nuclear family came under scrutiny as the rights of the individual family members came to have more importance than the rights of individual families (McDonald 1988). However today in Australian Society it is family life that is still very strongly valued. People continue to still want and value the life of the family unit. Women now work outside the home but it is still their home that is of most importance to them. We are having fewer children but we are spending more money than ever on them.(Australian bureau statistics 2000) Whatever rewards we are gaining by becoming more recognised in society on an individual basis we still turn back to our family for the dispersion of these rewards, to thank them, for support and for love. ...read more.


Or are they just continuing to change based on economic factors as they have done in the past? Change and progress or demise of the perfect family and anarchy? A lot of questions but as to whether there will be anarchy or a lack of basic values if the notion of family as we now know it is no more, well only time can tell. Will the war that is taking place at the moment and the huge resistance by many common people help us to see ourselves as a global family? That we are all of us interconnected. That one society doesn't just make up the body but the whole world does. What implication does this have? In Australia people are basically defining their own families. They do this on four main dimensions.(Bulbeck 1998) 1. The relationship to the person. 2. The purpose or activity concerned. 3. Particular circumstances in their case. 4. Their perceptions of the nature of their obligations. However they still are striving to be defined as a Family. To be seen as a family or part of a family is something that will be important to our society for a very long time to come. So as stated throughout this paper it is not so much a question of is family important but of the fact that it is very important and to what extent we will now as a society go to in the future in order to define our families, just so that we can all no matter if we are, gay, straight, childless, have 2 dogs, live with step parents foster parents etc call ourselves part of a family. ...read more.

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