Family - Social Philosophy


The family is a universal social institution. It performs the functions of reproduction of the population, caring for children and their socialization, i.e. training them to observe social norms, which makes it possible to transfer the culture of society from generation to generation.

At one time it was customary to oppose the extended family and nuclear (nuclear) family. The extended family is a social unit , including parents and children, as well as other more distant relatives - perhaps grandmothers and grandfathers, uncles or aunts living together on the same roof. A nuclear family is a family consisting of a man and a woman and their children.

The process of industrialization in many ways leads from an extended family to a nuclear one. The latter, being free from broad family ties, is more mobile geographically and socially, provides greater emotional freedom, does not limit the choice of a partner in marriage and makes it possible to determine the profession of each of the spouses on the basis of their own inclinations and successes. Modern families are more often, however, modified extended families. In an industrial and especially in a postindustrial society, relations between relatives actually become more free. They do not always live together. But the family's nuclear family continues to maintain regular contact with relatives and receives practical help from relatives in many matters, from raising children to large purchases. In this system of mutual support, an important role can also belong to those who are not related to this family, which leads to the formation around each family of a certain support group, including both relatives and those who do not belong to them. >

Not only Marx, but also other major thinkers of the 19th and 20th centuries. hypothesized the more or less rapid disappearance of the family. Some regretted it, others joyfully hurried the process. "However, the family not only has not disappeared," writes A. Burgier, "it is often the only indestructible bulwark that exerts resistance to outside pressures (resistance of the proletariat to capitalist exploitation, resistance to the pressure of a totalitarian state). Perhaps this is one of the contradictions of our time ... The fatherland, the church, the state have become monsters devoid of meaning, whose speechless speech only does what sends the person to himself. There remains only one religion (in the original sense of the word), able to connect a person with the past, and her actions - with actions already committed and sunk in memory from childhood. This is family. This is the reason for the almost religious trembling that the family today has for the French, divorced as never from traditional values. "

Family along with property is the cornerstone of structural social relations. The Institute of the Family does not remain unchanged. In an industrial society, economic and social ties are gradually weakening, prompting them to enter into marriage. The atmosphere of increasing permissiveness supplants the condemnation of a free alliance. In this society, the family, which was once an important form of transfer of power and property, is increasingly becoming a family, closing in the realm of private life and gradually transferring competence and power to the state or society as a whole. Changes that occur with the family in an individualistic society do not, however, show a tendency to its disappearance. You can talk about a particular marriage crisis, but not about the crisis of the family. While there is an individualistic society, there will obviously be a family, although its forms will not remain unchanged.

The situation is different in a collectivist society. The more it focuses on the benefits of communitarian relations and the impairment of structural relations, the more clearly is its initial hostility to the family. Marx and Engels did not stipulate, proclaiming the community of wives in the future communist society: the negation of the family stems from the very essence of communism and the communitarian relations that dominate it. The classics of Marxism did not have only the courage to proclaim this effect directly and openly.

The real communist (socialist) society has never risked completely abolishing the family as a vestige of the past and introducing something similar to the community of wives. The abolition of the family left it to the future, limiting itself to its present weakening. The ways to limit the family's strengthening influence on the social structure were manifold. These included: the elimination of the family from the system of economic relations by restricting the property and assets belonging to it, narrowing the inheritance rights, etc .; the transparency of family relations for the collective and society, the constant interference of the latter in family conflicts, the persecution of all family members for the mistakes of one of them, the indication of all relatives, including the deceased, in all kinds of questionnaires, etc .; toughening of the divorce procedure, natural in case of family breakdown, impossibility of divorce for party nomenclature and their complication for other members of society, listing of all past marriages in any any important documents; categorical condemnation of cohabitation or free union; severe moral condemnation of the idea of ​​realizing desires, in particular love, within the family; the transformation of the family from the cell of society into a cell of the state; weakening of material and emotional dependence of family members from each other; economic and other difficulties of creating a new family, in particular the difficulties associated with housing and residence; the weakening of vertical ties of kinship, especially the links "fathers-children"; reducing the intensity of communication in the SMS by switching the energy of its members to tasks that are more socially important, etc.

Collectivist aspiration, if not destroyed, then at least significantly weaken the family in the most serious way affects love. First of all, it afflicts the love of one's neighbor, which Christianity considered the epicenter of love and a necessary condition for the love of God. Constant pressure on the family negatively affects also the love of man, the love of God, the love of life, etc.

In the interpretation of the family there are, thus, two extreme poles. For collectivism, the family is a cell of the state, for individualism the family is a fortress, on which the individual confronts the surrounding world.

Between these extremes there is a wide field of intermediate forms that are used by modern capitalist society in the course of a gradual change in the functions of the family. The general direction of these changes is the greater openness of the family to society, which, however, does not reach the idea of ​​making the family one of the elements of a state machine.

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