Because for most of us family represents something ultimately intimate and close while also being associated with the dearest people whom we care deeply about, thinking about a family from the sociological point of view, dissecting its structure and functions seems as something ultimately unsettling and discomforting. Looking at your own family through the methodological lens of social sciences reveals that it is merely an instance of a greater societal trend and also allows one to assess how well does one’s own family do in terms of the key functions it performs. Further, a comparative analysis of Middle Eastern families and your own allows one to see first hand how the normal family in their culture differs from that in other countries.

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Functions of The Family

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Production, consumption, and distribution of goods and service comprises one of the key functions of the family in every society as families usually act as active agents who accumulate resources and make collective decisions about how to use them. In the Middle East, families usually unite many extended relatives who try to accumulate as much mutual wealth as possible with men, and often older men in traditional families, holding the responsibility to distributing these resources. This function is handled quite differently in my family where all the adults earn money outside of home and everyone in the family has a say in how the accumulated resources and handled.

Socialization of children is regarded as a very important task of every Middle Eastern family. There, raising noble Muslim children is regarded as the main responsibility of women while men take a very sporadic part in the upbringing of children (Moghadam, 2004). In my family, it seems that both parents were responsible for fulfilling this function with a large part of it being outsourced to school and our church community.

In the Middle East, a bog cultural emphasis is placed on caring for the older members of the family. Just like caring for the children, this is usually regarded as a responsibility of female family members. Assessing my family on this criteria, it is somewhat sad to acknowledge that caring for the elderly is actually outsources to a nursing home as all adults are busy with their work.

The function of controlling the behavior in society in Middle Eastern families is usually performed by men in the family who are the ones who discipline children and other family members (Moghadam, 2004). In contrast with this, in my family, it was usually my mom who would discipline me while my dad would encourage me to challenge social norms.

The reproduction function is clearly one of the key functions of family anywhere. However, it is taken more seriously by the Middle Eastern families where having many children is common (Moghadam, 2004). My family, on the other hand, does not have many children with some of my distant relatives ignoring this function altogether by deciding to be child-free.

It becomes clear from this superficial analysis it is clear, that while family functions might be similar in different societies, the way they are fulfilled by the families differs greatly across cultures. At the same time, in every culture, a family is expected to do well and in line with cultural norms in performing functions it has taken upon itself or it will be considered to be dysfunctional. In other words, while it is normal not to deliver on some of the functions, if the family embarks upon certain functions like socialization and caring for children, failing to deliver the basic associated with these tasks would mean that the family is dysfunctional (McAdams et al., 2009). For instanse, families, where children are neglected or abused, are dysfunctional because they fail to satisfy the child’s basic needs for safety and care.

Overall, while there is a great cultural variation when it comes to families, in every society it is the family that performs the basic tasks needed for society to reproduce and maintain its culture.