Family and its main functions
The family is the first social community (group) in a person’s life, thanks to which they become familiar with the values of culture, master the first social roles, and gain experience of social behavior. In it, he takes his first steps, experiences his first joys and sorrows, leaves the family for the big world, and then returns back when he becomes uncomfortable in this world.
Ancient thinkers spoke about how important the family is in the life of every person. The ancient Greek philosopher Plato, for example, believed that every man must marry before the age of 35. Marriage was part of the public duties of citizens. Refusing to marry, according to Plato, is a crime. “The person who disregarded this duty had to pay an annual tax, so as not to imagine that life without marriage was convenient and profitable.” In this case, considerable importance was the fact how young people, especially women, are prepared to family life. According to Plato, they should be trained in the same arts as men, as well as they should learn military skills. When entering into a marriage, it is important to know from which family the young man takes a wife, or to which family the parents give their daughter. In addition, the young people themselves should know each other well before marriage. Plato considered the main purpose of the family to be the birth of healthy children (citizens). Therefore, he gave specific recommendations on how to ensure healthy offspring. In his opinion, the strongest children are born to women aged 20 to 40 years from men no older than 55 years. It is unacceptable, Plato stressed, to conceive under the influence of alcohol, as this is fraught with serious consequences for future children.
Aristotle spoke about the necessity and benefits of marriage, the peculiarities of the relationship between husband and wife, the role of each of them in the family in the “Nicomachean ethics”. He believed that the family is the first type of social interaction of people, it is the original cell from which the state arose. Aristotle called the Union of several families a “village”, considering it a transitional form from the family to the state. From Aristotle originates the idea that family is an integral element of the social structure of society: on the one hand, penetrate into the family problems of the society, and family affects the relations in a society affects the nature of all processes of social life. Each member of the family retains a certain degree of autonomy and thus enters into various other associations of people, social groups (educational, industrial, political), enters into some relations with state institutions, neighbors and other communities, representing either the interests of their family or their own views that have been formed in the family.
At the same time, the family is not a simple set of individuals, each of whom goes about their own business. This is a complex social formation, each member of which is simultaneously a unique person, an individual, and an integral part of a single whole — a family group. In turn, this group is not as simple as it might seem at first glance. It is no accident that philosophers, sociologists, ethnographers, demographers, jurists, historians, economists, psychologists, teachers, and physicians are actively engaged in research of its problems. In addition, it attracts the attention of researchers in areas of scientific knowledge that, at first glance, do not have a direct relationship to the family. Physicists try to explain the peculiarities of family development using the laws of thermodynamics. Chemists search for the biochemical basis of happy and unhappy love, identify special “smells of love” that facilitate the process of establishing contacts between a man and a woman, creating and maintaining a family. Mathematicians use computers to calculate the optimal behavior strategy in a married couple and in a love triangle. Literature and art try to help people find a recipe for family happiness.
Each of the Sciences has its own tasks in the study of the family and gives it its own definition. The validity of the variety of interpretations of the concept of “family” is due to different approaches to the study of family and marriage relations. Any definition from the point of view of any particular science will be incomplete. Philosophy and sociology understand the family as a small social group, whose members are connected by marriage and kinship relations, common life, mutual assistance and moral responsibility. Familiar words about the “cell of society” are found in this definition: family-a cell (small social group) of society, the most important form of organization of personal life, based on marital Union and kinship ties, i.e. relations between husband and wife, parents and children, brothers and sisters, other relatives who live together and lead a common household on the basis of a single family budget.
Social psychologists consider the family as a unit of the social structure of society, acting as a regulator of relations between people. Social norms and cultural patterns that exist in society set certain standards for how a husband and wife should be, a father and mother in relation to their children, and a daughter and son in relation to their parents. From a socio-psychological point of view, the family is a social group that corresponds to the norms and values of this society, United by a set of interpersonal relationships formed in joint activities: spouses among themselves, parents to children and children to parents and among themselves, which are manifested in love, affection, intimacy.
So, the family is a small social group, which is characterized by certain intra-group processes and phenomena. At the same time, the family is distinguished from other small groups by certain characteristics: marital or kinship ties between its members; common life; special moral, psychological, emotional, ethical and legal relations. In addition, the family is characterized by such features as lifelong belonging to a family group (the family is not chosen, a person is born in it); the maximum heterogeneous composition of the group (age, gender, personal, social, professional and other differences of family members); the maximum degree of informality of contacts in the family and the increased emotional significance of family events.
As an illustration of the fact that the family is an unusual social community, the perception of which changes not only depending on changing social conditions, but also under the influence of a person’s professional activity, are the judgments of representatives of different professions about marriage given by the Yugoslav writer B. Nusic.
Historian: “Marriage is one of the very rare historical phenomena in which the Victor submits to the vanquished.”
Writer: “Marriage is an interesting story, and sometimes a novel with a very beautiful beginning, but often bad content and most often-with an unexpected end.”
Physicist: “Marriage is a phenomenon when two bodies have a common, but imaginary, point of support in order to gain greater stability and therefore lose their balance very easily.”
Chemist: “Marriage is a combination of two elements, each of which still retains its own characteristics. A drop of foreign acid that gets into this compound causes a reaction in it and decomposes into its component parts.”
Doctor: “Marriage is a poison that contains an antidote in itself. Patients feel best at a high temperature and very bad at normal. Diet in these cases does not help, as it only worsens the patient’s condition.”
Prosecutor: “Marriage is a temporary reconciliation of two warring parties.”
Railway worker: “First-a train for pleasure trips, after a while-a passenger train, and then an unbearable freight train. A collision almost always occurs on the sidings.”
Salesman in a bookstore: “This is a book that is read with enthusiasm only in the first edition, and when it becomes outdated and becomes a classic, it loses all value.”
Telephone operator: “Marriage is a conversation between two callers who can only hear each other well until some external reason breaks the connection, or, what happens more often, until a third intervenes in the conversation»
The most important integral characteristics of a family group are its functions, structure, and dynamics.
Any family is created in order to meet some significant needs for its members, which are supplemented by family-wide, group and social needs as family relations develop. The reflection of the system of interaction between the individual and the family, the family and society, those spheres of life that are associated with the satisfaction of certain needs of its members, is called the family function.
The family as a social institution is organically linked to society, and therefore a number of functions are directly derived from the requirements of society itself. On the other hand, the family is a sphere of interpersonal relations, where its own laws and functions operate. In this regard, we can highlight the features of companies in relation to the family, family in relation to society, families in relation to identity and in relation to the family. Based on this, the functions of the family can be considered as social (in relation to society) and individual (in relation to the individual). The functions of the family are closely related to the needs of society in the institution of the family and to the needs of the individual in belonging to a family group. In addition, the functions of the family are deeply historical, closely related to the socio-economic conditions of society, so the nature of family functions and their hierarchy changes over time.
It is possible to distinguish the main functions of the modern family in connection with the main spheres of its life and the most important needs.