A review on family sociology (1)

It may seem that the concept of "family" is out of very clear and understandable concepts, so that the public, large and small, literate and illiterate, all understand it and there is
A review on family sociology (1)
A review on family sociology (1)


Translated by: Ahmad Ismaeil Abadi
Source: rasekhoon.net



It may seem that the concept of "family" is out of very clear and understandable concepts, so that the public, large and small, literate and illiterate, all understand it and there is no need to define it, but it is not as easier as we think. When we refer the literature terminology, we would see that different definitions offered about it and experts based on their expertise and their needs, each one has provided his own definition about "family". Some have considered the families as a social organization, and some has accounted some basic kinship and inbreeding as the family basis; some other the economic factors and a group also considered psychological and sexual factors as factor for its emergence. In any case, as it is implied throughout other sources, the purpose of "family" in this speech, is a collection of individuals who live together side by side in peace and their correlation measure is two things; the relationship or marriage, so, parental families, single parental, no parents or brothers and sisters who live together are also to be included in this discussion. The family is of one of the first social institutions that is found in various forms in every society, therefore, the family as a social institution, forms the core of human social bonds disembodies and by providing a set of human needs undertakes the roles and special functions. The remains of prehistoric human settlements is clear proof of the existence of family settlements which has been of the oldest institution and is considered as the foundation of social life And the family aside from the task of childbearing and child rearing, as a result of generation continuity and the human survival undertakes the several other roles such as business, education, and the individual socialization. Today family study as a social institution and the original cell of society or the basic unit of society is considered by many sociologists, anthropologists and social psychologists and especially this sort of attention is focused on changes emerged associated with the development of industry and urbanization as well as in the dimensions and family backgrounds and, is put under high pressures. Some people in decades ago on the basis of what has passed in the West, believed that the family unit will ran into weakness and the gradual evolution will guide this institution in the face of rapid economic and technical developments of the West world to the brink of disintegration . In sociology, the family as a basic social institution has a special life that is studied by the scientific method and the way of family establishment and its changes throughout the history is explained especially in today's society has undergone many instabilities and it especially loses its old forms and it is shown in a new shape therefore, as a result, in family functions, inconsistent changes with its structural changes has emerged. The Relationships within the family, relationships between spouses and those of girls and boys, children, and parents have been affected by social conditions and some changes have occurred in it. So the family that shapes the fundamental nucleus of society in many Western societies has lost its strength and it is gradually weakening and therefore, Western governments feel threatened and fear that they will not be able to prevent the family pressures. For example, in the family of United States, most Americans have sex before marriage, an in every five births, one is related to an unwed mother that is around a nineteen-year-old. However, out of each pregnancy, one ends in a miscarriage. Out of each five adults, one lives unmarried. Nearly half of all marriages end in divorce and new solutions instead of traditional marriage, is prevalent there. So the family study and its issues have long been considered by scientists, philosophers and religious scholars. But it is just over a century that passes of serious and scientific study of the sociology of the family. In the second half of the 19th century, we observe some theories that consider family as a socio- historical unit know and based on the idea of development in direct line, that was dominant on social studies that time, the family was also subjected to this view. In a way that in those years, further discussions were common on family as a linear evolution. So, we can name Durkheim as experts in this field. He, based on his gradual contraction theory, considered its family evolution of a broad type toward the couple's family. Later, the study flow was different. Some People like Louis Strauss studied on family issues and kinship systems in primary communities. These studies comparatively were performed about different societies and its direction was contrary to historical studies. Of the scientists who have studied the new family can be named to Lekout Parsons can be named. His study was on American couple family. He has explored different directions of this family and it can be said that his target his target is family in modern industrial societies. After the First World War, it is family crisis. In these years, this idea was matured that the family era is over and social organizations and institutions can afford their duties. Such thinking brought adverse health effects that still have its effects. After World War II, considering the necessity for family and making efforts for serious study about its problems once again became favored. Experimental efforts were conducted in America and Europe and the direction of studies flows changed. Case studies have broken-down special issues of family and in any part the using of deep thinking methods and extensive studies were conducted. In Iranian society, the family institution also has long been the first and foremost socialization context for person and teachings, values and social norms. This structure inherited from the past century has many functions that lead to stability in Iran and has bestowed it a "holy" role. All reformers, even the idealists and those who were stepped to nowhere, have emphasized on the family and its vital importance for society. In reality, any society can rightly claim to be healthy, if not having healthy families. However, without any doubt, there is not any social problem to be emerged regardless of family influence. Then, Family as the first social unit undertakes different tasks and functions and is regarded as the main setting for education and socialization of human beings, learning values and norms and shapes individual actions and interactions, as well. More clearly, it is in the family atmosphere that people learn how to communicate with its members and the pattern of relationships and rules of interaction is determined so that the people on the basis of them organize their relationships. It is so clearly when the family is a strong raiser of traditional patterns with polar structure in a way that family members are required to comply with certain ideas of the Almighty and not experienced the bilateral relations based on the principle of meritocracy in the private sphere of the family Egalitarianism, in their future family life, affected by the pattern of relationship has been dominated on original family and in social field will not be susceptible to adopt democratic rules. And he is always submissive and subordinate to command of those in power, because the family as the only irreplaceable unit has established a close relationship with the community and social institutions, so that changes and developments in society depends on the changes in family factors and vice versa, therefore; modifying and review in the valued system is always in need of formal and informal norms. When the spirit governing all levels of society to be based on inequality and authoritarianism, the family will not be safe of this abyss are not and, it has constantly tried to reproduce the traditional rules that more underpins the gender-based discriminations as well as the unequal distribution of power. Therefore, this cycle continues nurturing people with disabilities in public and private life era thus, with respect to the deep links and mutual interactions between the two public and private domains, factors affecting family relationships are the foundation which can be analyzed. Experts in the field of family and sociology of the family have provided different definitions in relation to the role and function of the family. People like, MacIver, Burgess and Locke, Rogers and Roma have discussed the family issue from different perspectives. However, a group more considers life and sexual function for them and another one emphasizes more on living, cultural and communicational functions as well as the important role of the family as mini-system in which socialization, interaction and mutual interaction of individual is being formed. Maintenance of family life continuity as well as its propensity is common wishes of the family experts so, each with their different approaches, tries to explain and solve family problems.

Sociology of the Family:

Family sociology is accounted as Public specialized branch of sociology that it's discussing topic which is considered as the study of the family, kinship marriage and surveying reviews on the development and expression of their evolution and varieties of the mentioned institutions along the history. This branch of sociology along with surveying within family relationships (including the relationships between parents, children, spouses and community with each other) and also pays attention to the family relationship between family and society, the role of the family in social control, social power and social destiny ,as well. The aim of the sociology of the family is to study, recognition and describing the various activities and communication network between family members on the one hand and on the other hand within family members and social institutions. It means, the system and the organization of the persons' activities are in relation with community. Indeed Sociology of the family, from this view point, pays attention to the family that includes a social impact. However, Family activities have not been separate one, but can be formed quite apart from society.
The fundamental issues and major headings of family sociology are as follows:
Family: includes definition, functions and types of families. -
- Marriage: includes definition of marriage and its social dimensions and studding the types of marriage.
- Relationships: includes family definition and its variants
- Divorce. - Types of relationships in the family that in this study will be discussed.

The family definition:

More than this, a group of social scientists, had defined family as "a group of people whose relationship with each other is being formed based on congeniality and those who are accounted as relatives to each other. Another group of sociologists, for family extension, in a way that besides blood relations, cases such as children adoption as well as social acceptance and contract which is also involved has defined family as "it is a group composing of people who, through marriage, congeniality or adoption together as husband, wife, mother, father, brothers, sisters and children are mutually associated and has created a common culture and live in a certain unit. Other experts also in other fields of human sciences have used the same definitions of the family for example; we refer to several other definitions.
- The family is a mixture of people who through blood, marriage, or child adoption communicate with each other and over a period of indefinite time, live altogether.
- Family is a link with the institution of marriage that is a form of sexual relations, which have been approved by the society, is concerned.
1) The family is a social group that its adults (male and female) sexually live together and economically cooperate with each others and have a kid or more. So, we can summarize the common powers of these definitions based on three bases:
2) The family based on marriage happens between two opposite sexes.
3) The relative relationships (contractual or actual) or kinship between its members prevails
In addition to biological functions (reproduction), the education, training and the economy applications are imaginative for that, too. However, a glance at the evolution of the family, suggests that this ancient institution, in its long life span, especially in modern times has been subjected to such changes that it would be difficult to provide a comprehensive definition of it. Therefore, our Formed-based definition of the family that is combined of a husband, wife and children, regarding the family structure throughout human history, is not a true imagination. Accordingly, the family definition is a simple and impossible. It is easy due to the stereotype imagination of the family which is even in the mind of the intellectuals, and it is considered a combination of husband, wife and children, thinks, and it is impossible due to a myriad of different species is just accounting of "family name" and other than that, does not much else in common. For this reason, Martin Sigalen believes that contemporary sociology is inevitable that to act cautiously in family definition because "family" is a term with multiple meanings and is deprived of conceptual framework, which is able to define a wide range of phenomena. Sociologists have offered various definitions of families that contain several points in common. In this section we will mention some of them.
A) - The family definition according to institutional criteria making;
The family is an institution that is located within the community of organisms whose structure is maintained by its components.
B) - Structural-functional definition of family;
The family is one of the part-systems related to the entire society that undertakes some tasks.
C) – The family Definition by criteria for action and the role:
The Family is a combined unit of people who have specific interactions or situation. This position is determined by the roles.
D) The Family definition with criteria of relation;
Family is a group of people living together and a certain kinship between them exist. The above definitions contain limitations and shortcomings: one in terms of the criteria for consideration (that is rooted in the community of researchers as well as the framework and its Theoretical Foundations) and the other is in terms of "not being prevented from strangers". That is, many definitions are not accurately representing the family, but it has been a public expression and includes other groups and social institutions. If in the family definition, like other social contexts, theoretical assumptions are involved we would be able to provide the following definitions based on social environment and Islamic and Iranian society and with regard as well as the roles and family functions. The family is the core of the human family that its foundation is not merely social life contract, but it is derived from natural need and the human deep spirit. Need for settlement and mental relaxation between two opposite sexes through marriage a special contract, forms the first link in the social life and gift them different functions and duties. This social core with its own related cores (parents, children and other relatives and relative by marriage) has a humanistic emotional and legal connection.
By the above definition, the family has the following features:
1- It is being constituted based on a natural need not purely a sexual one
2. Its happening needs a particular social contract
3. It occurs between two heterosexual (male and female) comes
4. For the parties to the contract, specific tasks and roles are constant
5. between this Social core and other cores and individual members, there is a special relationship and a core related to marriage within the kinship network, has certain roles
So you can say, a form of human association is "family". Family is a complex set of relationships, trends, and the various phenomena, in other words, family is a system in the life of society where physical and mental, economic, moral, cultural, etc are tied together and have formed an integrated set. There are different views about the family based on various definitions expressed about family. To another definition, the family can be considered as constructive social organization that will be formed through marriage. Sumner and Keller consider family as a miniature of social organization that at least has two generations based on blood relationship. Burgess and Louk" in their work" family" in 1953 wrote: a group of people who, through marriage, consanguinity or adoption (as a child) husband, wife, father and brother and are mutually related and create a common culture and live in a certain unit. Certain persistent sexual relations lead to procreation and children upbringing. Murdoch considers the family as a particular social group that has a unit residential area, common economic activities and operation of renewable generation. In his opinion, the family is composed of adult males and females combined at least of two sexes; in these family real children or on the way children can be found. Ali Gaemi in the book family life in Islam says: Islam introduce the family a group consisting of people with civil character, legal and moral that its early core is formed by marriage of men and women, and the look is a proposal based on which the parity connection between men and women have been made, and after that both sides will have new duties and rights. Kinship emerges in the shadows of marriage and then, its members will have legal relationship. The family definition is said that is one of the cores of societies that are based on marriage or family such as relationships between spouses, siblings, parents, and children and so on. Family life is determined by the material and the spiritual relationship. The first involves critical relationships and the latter's livelihood, legal relationships, moral and spiritual.

The Family origin

Concerning Family origin, namely the emergence of its primitive forms, the human knowledge is very limited and often is based on assumptions. About definition of family, Hegel says: The family is the first normal group. According to Rousseau's the family is oldest community and the first political instance. Sociologists consider society as the primary family nucleus and believe that family has been the origin of social organization constitute. Malinowski says: Family and clan have been coincided and it was the requirements of society, which turned out one superior and important to another. In Durkheim's view, the family emergence as well as its gradual evaluation has taken place in coincidence with social development and human evolution and, it is continuing. It seems that the family was the first social unit that gradually developed and has turned out into larger units such as tribe, clan, village community, civil society and at last the national community.
The Position and the importance of family
In all known societies almost all humans are caught in a web of family rights and duties that can be called the relations made by roles. Philosophers and Social Scientists believe that society is consisted of our family and the coordinates of study population through clarifying current family relationships is describable. Based on the oldest moral written, the society will lose its power when people do not do their family duties well. For example, Confucius believed that the happiness and progress belongs to a society in which men as a family member have had good manners and to be perfect in the sense that no one does not ignore the duties they have toward their children. In general, the philosophers, reformers, religious leaders and community leaders throughout human history, have consensuses about the importance of family pattern. However, the "Particular importance of the family concept should be searched in society in the broader sense. Family connects the person to build a greater community and society survives just its demands are well answered. The community will remain stable when the motivation of his men to be answering his needs. However, apparently obeying the community like police can by high force and pressure make deviants to obey the law and follow the principles. The person is captured by family and its social life and is influenced by these forces. The Family is consisted of individuals and at the same time it is as a larger network naming community. However, we are always affected by our relatives. Even in the most industrialized and largest cities that sometimes we assume that persons live anonymously and ancestry, they are interacting with other families. Apart from religion, the family is the only social institution that is officially accepted and has developed. In fact, the concept of social structure in anthropology often comes with the concept of family making. Often, we spend our life in two families with very different roles and database which is of extraordinary importance in our future life and life aspects and perspectives.
a) Family of orientation: the family where we are born as a boy or girl
b) Family of procreation: it means a family that as a parent, we bring our fellows.
In any society, the expectation is that the family is formed through marriage that is, an association between two or more people with social approval. Social recognition of marriage is usually determined with the usual cultural rites and ceremonies, such as marriage by a religious authority, to stabilize marriage by a judge or a representative or government official and exchange of gifts between the families of both sides. The couples are expected to have a sexual relationship with each other and respect family rights and economic tasks in a form of a family. Each community distinguishes between the children born through the marriage relationship with children born outside of marriage. So, the legitimate child is born of mother and father who are married and an illegitimate child is borne of mother or father who is not married. All societies encourage legitimate birth because, it enables the community to give the social role of mothers and fathers to the certain persons who are responsible for care-taking and maintenance of their own children. On the other hand, illegitimate birth could be a sign of a social problem. Because although the mother is known, but perhaps someone is not known to assume the social role of the father. Then, it is from this aspect the family function is of high importance. So the study of family and the marriage is one of the most important areas of sociology. In practice, in all societies, everyone in the family is growing, and the vast majority of adults are married or they are thus, marriage is a very popular social institution. In this section, we'll get a brief explanation about marriage.

The definition of marriage

Family is a group of people who have been associated with relational connections and their adult members are responsible to take care of kids. The relational links are communications among individuals that are either created by marriage or by ancestry which links blood relations like (mothers, fathers, other children, grandparents, etc.) with each other. Marriage can be acceptable as a socially recognized sexual bond and defined between two adults. When two people marry, they are related to each other, but marriage makes greater numbers of relatives related to each other. Parents, brothers, sisters and other blood relatives are known as marriage partners. So, marriage can be defined as a link between members of two exogamous groups through which two of the opposite sex in a network of mutual rights and obligations that in every culture are different than other cultures are being relied on each other. Marriage is one of the most fundamental ways of linking individuals and groups. Because when a man and woman are married not only a wife, but a new strand of parents and other relatives are obtained. Levi-Strauss considers the marriage as a main phenomenon in the formation of kinship structures. The marriage in fact reforms construction of a legitimized marriage by customs. Marriage has specified settlement process of relative kinship, naming, inheritance on reproductive behaviors and open the way within the family group. One could also say, marriage is a phenomenon in which to continue marital life between man and woman a link takes place on that on the one hand is relying on the natural needs and on the other hand, in a social format, is dependant on social conditions, norms, practices and generally cultural system of the community. Marriage is an action that causes a link between two heterosexual marriages based on sexual lasting relationships. Marriage requires a social contract that gives legitimacy to the physical relations and brings about a communication that, in comparison with other human communication has different aspects.
The origin of marriage and family formation: to understand the evolution of a phenomenon, first and foremost, it must be examined from a historical perspective and to explore the basic shape and its components. Family Like any other phenomenon follows a process that since the beginning of history up to now has been existed and no doubt through this process has experience transformation and variations. About the origin and quality of the family emergence and marital relationships there are variety of Comments that are divided into two groups of evolutionary and non-evolutionary.
Non-evolutionary comments: based on this theory the family origin is derived from religions and history and is dedicated to Mesopotamia so, according to them family origin started from Adam and Eve and when they born some children gradually some other families created and then appeared as tribe and relatives and various communities are formed. This way of thinking in holy Quran and Torah has also been mentioned that human mind has easily adopted it.
Evolutionary comments: these comments are made and accepted when the anthropologists have conducted deep and overall studies on people of other communities apart from people of Mesopotamia and based on evidences have concluded that forming of family has not necessarily began by marriage of Adam and Eve but, at the outset, men and women had free sexual relations and created family.
The problems of choosing wife:
The marriage problems are so vast because each community has some rules which determine how many wives a person can choose. While many communities permit new polygamous marriage with polygamy or even many groups and societies prefer to encourage monogamy or polygamy. For this reason, in different societies, different forms of marriage take place which include:
The rule of monogamy (monogamy) which is based on the marriage of a man and a woman, and today in all societies has the overwhelming majority that is one of the manifestations and features of developed nations. So, monogamous marriage is known as marital link of a man and a woman and among the species that can be considered as the nucleus for a family, monogamous family, is the most common form of marriage in most countries of the world. In western Christian communities, marriage and family have conjunction with monogamy. In other word, the only legitimate form of marriage and the family in the western world is monogamy. Polygamous marriages, which are of two types,: Polyandry: means marriage of a woman with several men, this type of marriage is very rare and only exists in four remote tribal society, like: Nepal, Tibet, tribe of Toda in India and the Marquesas Islands. In the Marquesas Islands also Marquesas men consider marrying a woman who has separate beloved as privilege and consider them as helping husbands ,sometimes some strange man choose a woman as a common wife and one of them regarded as the father of the children. Or among the India's Toda fraternal laundering is prevalent which means marrying of several brothers with a woman and after running a certain kinship rituals, the title of father after is given to one of the spouses.


Means the marriage of a man with several women that is far more common than polyandry and since very far has been tradition among ancient China and India and still in many parts of Africa, the Middle East, including Iran and Asia is common and is generally preferred by Muslims. Because in the Holy Quran a man is allowed to marry four wives provided that obey some rules. Anthropologists have considered the reason for polygamy in tribal communities as herding and doing agriculture as result of women's labor force. In other words, from the perspective of a man in such societies, women are a type of economic privilege because not only they do impressive job, they breed sons that in local political battles and quarrels are relied on them.
Another rule of polygamy is choosing sister –in-law as wife that means marrying of a man with two or more sisters


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Monday, August 8, 2016
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author: علی اکبر مظاهری