The Family As A Social Institution

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In order for society to meet the basic social needs of its members, social institutions, which are not buildings, or an organization or even people, but a system whose of social norms, mores and folkways that help make people feel important. Social institutions, according to our textbook, is defined as a fundamental component of this organization in which individuals, occupying defined statues, are “regulated by social norms, public opinion, law and religion” (Amato 2004, p.961). Social institutions are meant to meet people’s basic needs and enable the society to survive. Because social institutions prescribe socially accepted beliefs, values, attitudes and behaviors, they exert considerable social control over individuals.

Sociologists look at society from either a macro or micro view and the theories that define their work are based on those perspectives. There are several family theories that we learned about this semester. Briefly, Structural-Functionalism and Conflict Theory are “macro” theories in sociology. Structural-Functionalism sees society as a living machine made up of different parts which work together for the good of society. Individuals, as well as Institutions work together, and the family is the key to the well-functioning machine. Emile Durkheim, considered the Father of Sociology argues social solidarity, where people do the right thing, create harmony and have shared values. According to Durkheim the nuclear family is the only type of institution that can achieve that. Conflict Theory sees society as a pyramid with those at the top having more power and influence than those at the bottom. Males in society have more power than females. There is a power imbalance, which could lead to oppression o...

... middle of paper ..., their jobs and their sense of security. In 1943, Psychologist Abraham Maslow stated that “people are motivated to fulfill basic needs before moving on to other, more advanced needs” and I believe, if these basic needs are not met, or lost, we will have a generation of parents and children that lack motivation to reach their higher levels of self-actualization. I believe it is imperative that families have contingency plans in place to meet their own needs in these times of natural disasters and economic downturns. Families need to reach out to their communities and form “extended families”, that will be in place should the government fail to respond in a timely manner.

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