Social structure is an institution that is characterized by an established arrangement by which individuals who share a common tie, live and interact with each other under an accepted and enduring standard or pattern of behavior. One common example of an institution that represents the features of a social structure is the family; a body where the members exemplify a relationship that is bounded by certain rules and patterns of interaction. The family is referred to as the smallest structure of society, but like any other institutions, the members are basically governed by guidelines that serve to maintain the harmony and its functionality. It is beneficial to reflect on the family as social structure because by looking and analyzing the roles of each member, the family as a whole can come up with better ways to solve their own difficulties as they create a harmonious relationship with each other. This would have a positive effect to the larger society, for instance, children who came from well structured family are likely to become more responsible individuals.
Family of Origin
The family that I grew up with have definitely affected and shaped who I am and has largely determined my perception about myself and on how I behave in general. I grew up in a family where my father is the main provider, though my mother also works. I can say that the structure of my family is almost traditional, with my father being the head of the family and my mother being there to support him. My grandmother stayed with us when we were younger and she came in second to my parents when it comes to reminding us about house rules. I observed that my older brother and I tend to be equal in the family hierarchy. Applying my understanding of the reference group, I can say that my family is a reflection of the traditional one, with each of us members practicing our societal roles.
The Way we Weren’t : the Myth and Reality of the Traditional Family
According to Coontz, there is now the diversity in the form of families in the United States (Coontz 1997), making the traditional family structure dominating a smaller portion of American families. As I see it, the stability of the families during the 1950s and 60s must have affected how my parents lead their marriage as well as on how they brought us up. There are various differences however, as my mother has to work, and me and my brother were raised as independent children. I can say that my family is still a traditional one, as my father is the head of the family, despite him willing to relinquish most of the final decision to my mother; in addition to each of us children having our own home duties. There are, however, instances when I think that my family is non-traditional: we were raised as independent children due to the fact that both my parents held full time jobs.
The family of origin has always an impact on the formation of an individual's sense of identity. It is from them that one learns and develops certain behaviors and beliefs among others. In my case, I have developed my own identity with the support of my family. Both of my parents have their full time jobs, but they see to it that they spend sufficient time with me and my brother during our growing up years. Although, we were brought up independent from them most of the time, they made sure that we felt loved and are safe. More than my education, my parents helped instill in me the value of being responsible by giving me house works, a share that I must perform as a member of the family. By being brought up in the family that I have, I have also learned to be more considerate to others. My family is my first touching base in the world and they have provided a loving and comfortable environment where I have developed the necessary attitudes and behaviors needed to be a better member of the larger society.
Coontz, S. 1997. The Way we Weren’t: The Myth and Reality of the Traditonal Family. The Way we Are. Basic Books.