The institution of family is a natural social system with unique properties of its own including roles, rules, a power structure, forms of communication, ways of negotiation and problem solving that allows varioous tasks to be performed effectively. Society has changed greatly from the 1950's to present time. This paper will explore the dramatic changes between then and now. The definition itself hasn't changed, but the effectiveness of the roles and rules has.
There are different sturctural examples of this institution such as nuclear, extended and commune families. Nuclear is a family with a husband, wife, and children; extended has a husband, wife, children and near relatives; a commune family would be a foster home or something similar to that. in this institution there are two groups that everything can fit into: primary and secondary. A primary group is defined as a small group whose members have very close relationships over a long period of time. A secondary group is usually a larger and less loving group compared to the primary group.
Roles such as a scapegoat, clown, breadwinner and caretaker have changed greatly throughout the last 50 years. Not so much the scapegoat or clown, but the breadwinner and caretaker have changed. In the 1950s the breadwinner was almost always a male, generally the father; and the caretaker was almost always a female, the mother. In more recent times there has been more than one breadwinner which can be of either sex. Today the caretaker is still a female for the majority, but the position as defined by that sex as it once was. .
Rules like folkways, mores, and laws haven't necessarily decreased, but the structural lines have definitly blurred. Folkways that can be as simple as having respect for your family members have faded. Presently, there is less respect towards family members especially in the child to parent relationship. Families have become more diverse by inviting boyfriends and girlfriends to dinner or to holiday parties, and by eating dinner at a friend's house or eating at a resturant.