The Social Functions of the Family

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Families are important social units that are responsible for the advances made and sustained in the society and a country in general. The smallest family unit includes father, mother and children. The three units have distinct but complementary roles they play at any given time at home. This paper refers to the Great Depression in the American History which impacted in different ways on the American families by placing significant economic, psychological and social demands upon key members of the family units. Families from various ethnic, racial and regional groups demonstrated different styles regarding family and marital relationships through diverse responses to stresses and demands bestowed on them. For instance, as at 1933, the average income for the U.S. households dropped significantly to $1,500 which represented a 40 percent decline from the level witnessed in 1929. Subsequently, the majority of families ended up losing their accrued savings due to the collapse of several banks in the early 1930s while the majority were evicted from their apartments due to inability to pay rents (Danziger, 29-30).

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The incidence arising from the great depression could be defined as one resulting from family disorganization as well as deprivation. From the incidence of the Great Depression, marriage rates also fell significantly with a significant decline in birth-rates. Divorce rates however also declined considerably during the same period. The decline in divorce rates, however, is perceived as a product of low inability to pay lawyers to execute divorce proceedings which were incidentally followed by a rise in desertion rates over the same period. Family units are the building blocks for economic progression (Danziger, 34). Subsequently, the turn of events during this period was also characterized by falling economic productivity of the region which was partly caused by increased instability in the family unit and partly due to the poor economic environment in general both locally and internationally.

The father is the decision maker in the family units across virtually all cultures globally. Subsequently, this implies that the family heads are also charged with the larger responsibility to maintain the social-economic and cultural sustainability of the household (Hill, 54). The ability of a father to provide for their families also increases their self-esteems in general. During the Great Depression in the U.S., the unemployed and underemployed family heads were faced with significant challenges of providing basic needs for their families. During this period (the 1930s), the concept of gender roles prevailed significantly where fathers were required to provide for their nuclear families. At times, this could extend to an extended family which increased the burden on the family heads. At times, men had to withdraw emotionally from both their friends and families (Danziger, 34). Women were tasked with the responsibility of child upbringing and inculcating necessary values into the children fraternity which eventually created a vibrant community in future. The society is the basis of development.

With the incidences of the Great Depression, this created a major challenge for the family organization and called upon review of responsibility sharing among family stakes especially during adverse economic situations. From the passage of the depression, the majority of people remembered it with nostalgia having been characterized with family unison and solidarity. During the period, families used to listen to Radios together and play games such as monopoly together. During these exchanges, families developed opinion mechanism that acted as a major guide to the instituting response that could be channeled later through political channels via mechanism guided by political kingpins such as Franklin D. Roosevelt, which presented political resolutions developed initially from the family units. This implies that families are the roots to the establishment of social-economic resolutions (Danziger, 45). From the depression, families reorganized quickly through the adoption of habits such as employment of women and children beyond their domestic chores which could be initially perceived as a disorganization of the family framework but later understood as an adaptation or a coping strategy for periods of deprivation by an economic meltdown or otherwise, during emergencies.

Works Cited

Danziger, Sheldon. The Effects of the Great Recession. Los Angeles: SAGE, 2013. Print.

Hill, Shirley A. Families: A Social Class Perspective. Los Angeles: SAGE/Pine Forge Press,2012. Print.

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