FUNCTIONS OF THE FAMILY
The family in any society is an institutional structure which develops through a society’s efforts to get certain tasks done What are he tasks commonly performed through the family?
The Sexual Regulation Function
The family is the principal institution through which societies organize and regulate the satisfaction of sexual desires. Most societies provide some other sexual outlets. With varying degrees of indulgence, each society also tolerates some sex behavior in violation of its norms. In other words, there is in all societies some deviation of the real culture from the ideal culture in sexual behavior. Most societies .; have some norms of evasion which define how to conduct disapproved sex -activities discreetly (e.g., the.American “business trip”). But all societies expect that most sexual intercourse will occur between persons whom their norms define as legitimately accessible to each other. These norms sometimes allow for considerable sexual variety yet no society is entirely promiscuous. In every society there are mores which forbid certain persons access to one another. What’ may look to ‘us like promiscuity is more likely to be a complicated system of sexual permissions and taboos which we do not fully understand dear majority of’ the world’s. societies have allowed young persons to experiment with sexual intercourse before marrying (Murdock, 1949, 1950). M~ny’ societies think the idea of virgin marriage is absurd. Yet in such societies this premarital sex’ experience js viewed as preparation for marriage not as recreation. ‘Sometimes its principal purpose is to determine fertility a girl who conceives is ready to marry. Most of these societies have not merely allowed premarital sex behavior they have institutionalized it. They have defined it as a proper and useful activity and have developed a supporting set of institutional arrangements which make .it safe’ and harmless. Since there ~ full social approval, there is no fear, shame or disgrace. The family structure and living arrangements in such societies are generally of a sort where one more baby is no special inconvenience or burden. Premarital sex. experience can be a useful and harmless preliminary for marriage in a society which has institutionalized it. Ours has not, but possibly may do so.