Types of Families in India
Families in India may be viewed from different view-points and the classifications obtained thereby are indeed varied in nature. We are to examine the types of family from different angles:
From the point of structure:
From this view-point, we can divide family into three basic types:
Simple, elementary or nuclear family: It is composed of the following members a man, his wife, and unmarried children. It is most conspicuous in the modem European and Indian societies as well among the tribal societies like the Lodha, the Santal, and the Oraon.
Joint family: If two or more nuclear families live together under a common shelter, and share a common hearth, and a common purse, then this type of family is known as joint family. The Hindu joint family is the best example of such type of family in which several uterine brothers live together. In Santal, Munda, Oraon societies such type of family is not uncommon. Joint family may split up into simple families at any moment as in the case of urban societies.
Extended family: When the nuclear family is found to be extended on all sides by certain adhesions in the form of relatives of both sides i.e. husband’s and wife’s sides, then it can be declared as an extended family. In most of the partrilineal societies of India, we do find such type of family in which the parents of the ego, his widowed sister with her children and even the old widowed father’s sister may live. These persons are originally of some other nuclear families but due to some adverse circumstances; they forced to live in the ego’s family. It is interesting to note that these adhesions cannot leave this family so easily. In modem and tribal societies, such a type of family is seldom met with.
From the point of blood relation:
In view of the blood relationship, the family may be classified into two types:
Family of Orientation: It is the family in which one is born. His identity in this family is as son, the father’s family of the Hindus and the Muslims of India.
Family of procreation: The family which one helps to set up after one’s marriage. His affiliation to this family will be as father.
From the point of marriage:
On the basis of marriage, the family can be classified into three types:
Monogamous family: This type grows out of monogamy i.e. single marriage involving two adults of opposite sexes. It is the common type of family found among the advanced and tribal societies of India.
Polygynous family: The family which grows around polygene i.e. multiple marriages on the part of a man. In former days, the Hindu zamindars and the Muslim Sultans had such type of family. Multiple marriages were then the symbol of prestige and high social status in some specific societies. The ‘Kulin’ Brahmin and Kayasthas had such familial affiliations.
Polyandrous family: The family which grows out of polyandry i.e. multiple marriage on the part a woman as found among the Todas of Nilgiri hills of South India. The disparity in numerical strength between the male and female had led them to go for such marriage owing to the cruel custom of female infanticide practiced earlier. When the husbands are related as brothers, and if they remain in the same family then it can be termed as fraternal polyandrous family. Non-related husbands with their wife or wives from the non-fraternal polyandrous family.
On the basis of succession:
On the basis or succession the family it can be classified into two broad divisions:
Patrilineal family: The family in which authority and succession flow through the male line. Sons of such families live permanently in their parental house and the daughters have to leave it after their marriages. They are to live in their husbands’ house. Family property is shared by the sons. Daughter inherits nothing.
Matrilineal family: The family whose authority and succession flow through the female line, as among the Khasi and the Garo. Married daughters with their husbands live in the house of their mother. Sons move out after their marriages.
On the basis of residence:
Family may be classified into six broad categories on the basis of residence where the married couple choose to reside after their marriage.
Patrilocal family: After marriage, if the bride goes to reside in the father’s residence of the groom, such a type is known as patrilocal family. In most of the patrilineal society such type is found.
Matrilocal family: In this type of family, husband goes to reside in the residence of the wife i.e. her mother’s household. Among the Khasi and the Garo, the daughters live permanently in the household of their mother and the sons come out of the family after their marriages. Mother, in such type of family, is the person in supreme command and the next position is held by her brother. Due to the impact of rapid modernization, matrilineal system is now in the process disintegration, at least in some aspects of their corporate living.
Neolocal family: If the newly married couple settles in new apartment without any attachment to the parents’ families of both the husband and the wife, then such a type is known as Neolocal family. In modern Bengal and some enlightened tribal societies such type of family is met with.
Bilocal Family: In some societies, a married couple may live with or near the parents of either of the spouses. This rule of residence is called bilocal and hence, the family will be designated as bilocal family.
Avunculocal family: It prescribes that a married couple shall reside with or near a maternal uncle of the groom rather than with parents of either of the spouses or in separate home of their own, as found among the Nayars of South India.
Matri-Patrilocal family: In some societies, it is found that the husband, goes to the house of the wife to live after marriage but a few years later or after the birth of the first child, the husband comes to his own parent’s house with his wife and children to live permanently there. This type of family is found among the Chenchus of Andhra Pradesh.