According to many Sociologists, in contemporary India, traditional joint families are being replaced by functional joint families. What do you understand by functional joint families? Why it is increasing in recent years? (150 W/ 10 M)

Mentors Comment:

  • The requirement of the question is simple and clear. In the first part of the answer, discuss what are functional joint families. In the later part, discuss what are the factors that are helping the increase of functional joint families.
  • Start with introducing the basic characters of joint families and how its now transforming into functional joint families. Thereafter, in separate sub heading, discuss what are the characteristics of functional joint families and how do they work. These two parts will make up your 40 percent of the answer.
  • The rest 60 percent focus should be given to the last part of the answer where you have to analyse the reason behind the increase in functional joint families. Points here will be employment opportunities, urbanisation, education, less importance of agriculture or traditional skill sets of the ancestors to the new generation etc.

Model Answer:

Indian family system since ancient period was basically traditional joint family system. Features of traditional joint family include common residence, common kitchen, common property and participate in common family worship etc. However in recent years it has been replaced by functional joint family.

Functional Joint Families:

  • Functional joint family means a family where even though the members of family are living separately but each individual gives importance to fulfillment of obligation towards kin, even if residence is separate and there is no common ownership of property.
  • Fulfillment of obligation refers to identify oneself as members of a particular family rendering financial & other kinds of help and following joint family norms.
  • Thus sociologist believe that breakdown of traditional joint family in India has not resulted into rise of nuclear families.
  • Instead mostly it is being replaced by functional joint family where each male, even though living separately, has obligation to look after the parents, his teenage brother & sisters.
  • In functional joint family the the jointness of the family is reflected not by common place of residence but by the nature & quality of social interaction.

Why is it increasing in recent years?

  • Industrialization is one of the major factor behind the rise of functional joint families
  • Due to setting up of industries, workers in rural areas tend to migrate to cities to find jobs.
  • However even though they live separately from their parents and other kins, they continue to maintain relations with there kin, by sending money or taking care of studies of their younger sibling.
  • Some even finally return and settle in village after retirement.
  • Modernization is the another major factor.
  • Modern education has brought about change in ideology of joint family system in India.
  • It has changed the attitude, values, beliefs and ideologies of the people and has created individualistic feelings amongst the females.
  • They have become conscious of their rights and equality with men.
  • Therefore they feel suffocated in traditional joint family as they have to live there life within the norms of patriarchy. Therefore they opt for separate residence.
  • However even then the unit continues to fulfill their financial, social and other obligations towards the kins specially parents.
  • Avenues of higher education have made families to shift their base from one place to another so that their kids get better education.
  • This also has led to the increase in functional joint families.
  • The traditional skills and crafts of household industries associated with the joint family have declined.
  • It was a principal unit of production now has been transformed in the consumption unit which has helped the rise of functional joint families who have moved away from the traditional skills of their other family members.
  • Another factor aiding the growth of functional joint families in India is the problem of accommodation.
  • This problem is especially acute in large cities.
  • A small house in city cannot provide accommodation to all the members of joint family.
  • The members find it difficult to live together. Hence, they are forced to establish their separate residence without breaking their ties or responsibilities.

The function of the family is not any more natural than its concept but are changing and shifting in relation to social and economic developments. It is not that joint less of the family in India is lost totally. It is just the “cutting off” point of joint less is changing. As India is culturally established country, it has been seen that there is change in the culture of the living of the family. But it is still well established, instead of large joint family, now smaller functional joint families will become norm of the day.