Sample Material of Our IAS Mains GS Online Coaching Programme
Subject: General Studies (Paper 4 - Ethics, Integrity, and
Family, as a reproductive or a biological unit, consists of a
man and a woman having a socially approved sexual relationship and whatever off-
spring (natural or adopted) they might have. As a social unit, a family is
referred to as “a group of persons of both sexes, related by marriage, blood or
adoption, performing roles based on age, sex and relationship, and socially
distinguished as making up a single household or a sub house hold.” Aileen Ross’
definition of family includes physical, social and psychological elements of
family life. According to her. family is “a group of people usually related as
some particular type of kindred, who may live in one household and whose unity
resides in patterning of rights and duties, sentiments and authority”. She.
thus, makes distinction between four sub-structures of family:
ecological sub-structure, i.e., spatial arrangement
of family members and their households, or how relatives live geographically
close to each otlier. In simple words, this refers to the size of the
household and type of the family;
sub-structure of rights and duties, i.e., division
of labour within the household:
sub-structure of power and authority, i.e., control over
the action of members; and sub-structure of sentiments, i.e., relationship between
different sets of members, say, between husband and wife, parents and children,
and siblings and siblings, etc.
Different scholars have given different forms of family. K.P. Chattopadhyay has
given three types of family: simple (man, wife, and unmarried children),
compound (two simple families, say, ego, his wife and unmarried children, and
ego’s parents and unmarried brothers and sisters), and composite (i.e., lineal
and collateral joint families). On the basis of authority, families have been
classified as husband-dominant, wife- dominant, equalitarian, and autonomic
families. Burgess and Locke have classified them as institutional and
companionship families on the basis of the behaviour of the individual members.
In the former family, the behaviour of the members is controlled by mores and
public opinion, while in the latter family, behaviour arises from mutual
affection and consensus. On the basis of kinship tics, families are classified
as conjugal (priority given to marital ties) and consanguine (priority given to
blood ties). Zimmerman has classified them as trustee (where members have to
conform to family norms and they have no individual rights), atomistic (in which
conventional mores lose their significance and each member can make his own
choice) and domestic (which is an intermediate type between trustee and
atomistic). I have introduced the concept of fissioned family which in structure
and functioning is a nuclear family, separated from the parental family.
JOINT FAMILY: NATURE, TYPES AND CHARACTERISTICS
The concept of joint family has varied with different
scholars. While Irawati Karve regards ‘co-residentiality” as important in
jointness, Harold Gould, LP. Desai, SC. Dabe, B.S. Cohn, and Pauline Kolenda do
not regard coresidentiality and commensality as essential ingrethents of
jointness. F.G Bailey and T.N. Madan give importance to joint ownership of
property, irrespective of the type of residence and commensality. LP. Desai
gives importance to fulfillment of obligations towards kin, even if residence is
separate and there is no common ownership of property. According to Irawati
Karve, the traditional ancient Indian family (Vedic and Epic periods) was joint
in terms of residence, property, and functions. She has given five
characteristics of joint family: common residence, common kitchen, common
property, common family worship, and some kinship relationship. On this basis,
she defines joint family as “a group of people who generally live under one
roof, eat food cooked at one hearth, hold property in common, participate in
common family worship, and are related to each other as some particular type of
kindred”. The word ‘common’ or ‘joint property’ here (according to the Hindu
Succession Act, 1956) means that all the living male and female members up to
three generations have a share in the paternal property. According to LP. Desai,
co-residence and common kitchen are not as important dimensions of joint family
as intra-family relationships are. He thinks that when two families having
kinship relationship are living separately but function under one common
authority, it will be a joint family. He calls it functional joint family. He
calls a traditional joint family as one which consists of three or more
generations. He calls two-generation family as a marginal joint family.
Ramakrishna Mukherjee while giving five types of relations-conjugal,
parental-filial, inter-sibling, lineal and affinal-has maintained that a joint
family is a co-resident and commensal kin-group which consist of one or more of
the first three types of relations and either lineal and/or affinal relations
among the members.
While LP. Desai has given five types of family-nuclear,
functionally joint, functionally and substantially (in terms of property) joint,
marginally joint, and traditional joint, KM. Kapadiu has given five types of
family: nuclear (husband, wife and unmarried children), nuclear with married
sons (what LP. Desai calls Marginal Joint and Aileen Ross calls small joint
family), lineal joint, collateral joint, and nuclear family with a dependant
(widowed sister, etc) Aileen Ross has given four types of families: large joint,
small joint, nuclear, and nuclear with dependants.
Taking all these types of families together as given by
different scholars a joint family may be defined as ‘a multiplicity of
geneologically related nuclear families, joint in residence and commensal
relations and functioning under one authority’. The characteristics of joint
family may be described as below:
It has an authoritarian structure, i.e., power to make
decisions lies in the hands of the head of the family (patriarch). Contrary to
the authoritarian family, in a democratic family, the authority is vested in one
or more individuals on the basis of competence and ability.
It has familistic organization, i.e., individual’s
interests are subordinated to the interests of the family as a whole, or the
goals of the family are the goals of the individual members.
Status of members is determined by their age and
relationship. The status: of a man is higher than his wife; in two generations,
the status of a person in the higher generation is higher than the status of a
person in the lower generation; in the same generation, the status of a person
of higher age is higher than the status of a person of lower age; and the status
of a woman is determined by the status of her husband in the family.
The filial and fraternal relationship gets preference over
conjugal relationship, i.e., husband-wife relationship is subordinated to
father-son or brother-brother relationship.
The family functions on the ideal of joint
responsibility. If a father takes loan to marry his daughter, it is also the
responsibility of his sons to repay the loan.
All members get equal attention. A poor brother’s son
will be admitted to the same school (even if costly) as rich brother’s son.
The authority in the family (between men and men, men
and women, and women and women) is determined on the principle of seniority.
Though the eldest male (or female) may delegate the authority to someone else
yet even this delegation is based on the principle of seniority, which limits
the scope for the emergence of individualism.
The changes in intra-family relations may be examined at
three levels: husband-wife relations, parental-filial relations, and relations
between daughter-in-law and parents-in-law.
Emphasising ‘resources’ factor does not mean that ‘culture’
(what Max Weber has called ‘traditional authority’) has lost its importance. In
fact, both factors are important today in conjugal bonds’. It may thus be
averred that though an average Indian family is husband-dominant yet the
ideological source of power of women is giving place to a pragmatic one.
The change in conjugal bonds is also evident from the
increasing emancipation of wife. In urban areas, wife going with husband for
social visits, taking food with husband or even before he does, going together
to restaurants and movies, etc. indicate increasing ‘companion’ role of wife.
Husband do longer regards his wife as inferior to him or devoid of reasoning but
consult her and trusts her with serious matters. As regards closeness of man to
his wife and mother, man, particularly the educated one. is now equally close to
both (Gore, 1968:180).