Theories of the origin of the Family

Theories of the Origin of the Family

A family is a group of people who are connected through marriage, blood or adoption. The family exists in all society. It is not a formal organization but instead, it’s a social institution. The article “Theories of the origin of the family” will discuss the sequence of the evolution of the family institution.

The family that you grow up in is known as your family of orientation and that family that you create on your own, as an adult, is known as a family of procreation.

To read about the concept of Family in anthropology, go through the link- Family in Anthropology

Here are some of the important theories about the origin of the family-

  • Classical theory
  • Theory of Sex Communism
  • Theory of Monogamy
  • Matriarchal family theory
  • Evolutionary theory

Classical theory

According to Plato, Aristotle and Henry Maine men have dominated women for centuries. This way Patriarchal family came first and later on matriarchal family came. This theory is not so much acceptable because in ancient societies matriarchal families were also present.

Patriarchal family (photo- ThoughtCo)

Theory of Sex Communism

L.H. Morgan, Briffault and James Frazer were the main propounders of this theory. According to them, any man or woman can establish a sexual relationship with any other man or woman without any restrictions. There was no family. Later on, the family formed.

Theory of Monogamy

Westermarck in his book the history of human marriage” told that first monogamy and later other types of family and marriage appeared.

Matriarchal family theory

Briffault in his book “The mother” told that first matriarchal family formed and then patriarchal. This theory was accepted by E. B. Tylor and Bachofen.

Evolutionary theory

This theory was propounded by Morgan, Bachofen, Tylor and McLennon. According to this theory, family evolved through the following stages-

  • Monogamous family
  • Patriarchal family
  • Syndyasmian family
  • Punaluan/ Group family
  • Consanguine family

Consanguine family

During this time males could form sexual relationships with any female. Even marriage between blood relatives was not forbidden.

Punaluan/ Group marriage

Here a group of male members (brothers) marries a group of women (sisters) and there is no restriction on sexual relations among them.

Group marriage (photo- Health Benefits Times)

Syndyasmian family

Here one man marries one woman at a time but he is free to make sexual relationships with any other female also.

Patriarchal family

Here a man can have sex with many women.

Monogamous family

It is the last and present stage of family and marriage. Here one man and one woman marry each other. It is the most accepted one.

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