Functions of the Family

The functions of the family are listed below, in no particular order, and will be discussed here. They are:

  • Reproduction,
  • Providing basic needs for family members,
  • Socialisation,
  • Transmitting the culture,
  • Nurturing the growth of personality and,
  • Status conferring.


This function is essential for the survival of society through the replacement of passing generations. Within the framework of a family, care and compassion is expected to be associated with parenting.This function can occur outside the confines of a family, though it is frowned upon.

Providing Needs for Family Members

The family is an ideal source for practical and emotional support. Within the confines of a family you are provided with food, shelter, clothing, love, comfort, companionship, help in times of distress and any other support necessary.


The family is one of the most important agents of primary socialisation. As the first institution responsible for socialisation, it prepares the child for his or her role in society. Society is not possible without adequate socialisation of its young.

In its most basic form, this is the process by which a child learns to become human and adopts certain behaviours. When a child is born, they are not social beings. By living in society, i.e. interacting with family and going to school, they learn and understand the rules of society according to which one has to speak, eat, behave and move around.

Transmitting the Culture

A society’s traditions, lifestyle, moral and social values are taught by family members. It is by this method that cultural norms are passed down from one generation to the next. Culture is kept alive through family.

Nurturing the Growth of Personality

Care of the child is provided by the family. Affection is important in the nurture of a family member. The sentiment of love and affection makes the family member feel that he is wanted in the world and is important to others. The affection shown, or lack thereof, affects the development of personality. Often, individuals who lack affection develop unbalanced personalities.

Status Conferring

Social identity if important for a child’s opportunities in life. Children are born into their parent’s social class, race, religion, ethnicity, etc. Family members may work as a unit to improve or maintain the social status of the family.

These are the main functions of the family as an institution in community.This list is not exhaustive. There are other theories and fields of thought on the function of a family in society.

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