A small group composed of husband and wife and immature children which constitutes a unit apart from the rest of the community is known as a/an? | Sociology for CUET by Vikash Ranjan | Sociology Guru

Small Group Composed

Question: A small group composed of husband and wife and immature children which constitutes a unit apart from the rest of the community is known as a/an?

  1. Extended family
  2. Nuclear family
  3. Joint family
  4. Patriarchal family

Answer: (2)

Understanding the Nuclear Family: An Autonomous Social Unit

The concept of the nuclear family has been a subject of extensive sociological inquiry, offering insights into the dynamics of family structures and their role in society. The term “nuclear family” refers to a specific social arrangement that constitutes a fundamental building block of societal organization. This essay aims to elucidate the characteristics, functions, and significance of the nuclear family, addressing its role as an autonomous social unit.

Definition and Composition of the Nuclear Family:

As per Duncan Mitchell’s definition in the ‘Dictionary of Sociology,’ the nuclear family is described as “a small group composed of a husband and wife and immature children which constitutes a unit apart from the rest of the community.” In essence, it is an independent unit within the broader social context. The core members of a nuclear family typically include a husband, a wife, and their unmarried children. This familial structure represents a departure from more extensive family arrangements, emphasizing a compact and self-contained unit.

Autonomy and Independence:

One of the defining characteristics of the nuclear family is its autonomy. Unlike extended or joint families, where multiple generations or branches cohabit, the nuclear family operates as a self-sufficient entity. Upon marriage, children leave their parental home to establish a separate household, marking the beginning of the nuclear family. This physical separation contributes to the autonomy of the unit, reducing interdependence with other family members.

The autonomy of the nuclear family is a product of modernization and societal shifts. As societies evolve, individuals increasingly seek independence, and the nuclear family represents a departure from traditional, more interdependent family structures. In this arrangement, decision-making, resource allocation, and daily functioning are primarily managed within the confines of the nuclear family.

Characteristics of the Nuclear Family:

  1. Small Size: The nuclear family is characterized by its compact size, typically consisting of parents and their unmarried children. This contrasts with extended families that may include multiple generations.
  2. Residential Independence: Members of the nuclear family often reside separately from their extended relatives. This physical separation contributes to the sense of autonomy and independence.
  3. Decision-Making Unit: The nuclear family serves as a decision-making unit, with the parents usually making choices related to family matters. This autonomy allows for quicker decision-making and a more streamlined familial structure.
  4. Child-Rearing: The responsibility of raising and nurturing children falls primarily on the parents in a nuclear family. This focused approach allows for more direct parent-child relationships.
  5. Economic Self-Sufficiency: Nuclear families often strive for economic self-sufficiency, managing their finances independently. This economic autonomy contributes to the overall independence of the family unit.

Functions of the Nuclear Family:

  1. Socialization: The nuclear family plays a central role in the socialization of children. Parents are the primary agents through which cultural values, norms, and behaviors are transmitted to the younger generation.
  2. Emotional Support: The close-knit nature of the nuclear family fosters emotional bonds among its members. The familial unit serves as a primary source of emotional support, providing a nurturing environment for individual growth.
  3. Education and Development: Parents in a nuclear family are instrumental in the educational and cognitive development of their children. The focused attention on a smaller number of family members allows for personalized guidance and mentorship.
  4. Resource Allocation: With a smaller number of individuals, resource allocation becomes more streamlined. The nuclear family manages its resources efficiently, contributing to economic self-sufficiency.
  5. Adaptability: Nuclear families often exhibit a higher degree of adaptability to societal changes. Their relatively independent structure allows for more flexibility in response to evolving social norms and expectations.

Significance in Modern Society:

The prominence of the nuclear family in modern society is reflective of broader societal shifts. As urbanization, industrialization, and individualism have become more prevalent, the nuclear family has emerged as a dominant familial structure. Its significance lies in its adaptability to the changing dynamics of contemporary life.

  1. Individual Autonomy: The nuclear family aligns with the principles of individual autonomy and independence. In an era where personal freedom is highly valued, the nuclear family provides a conducive environment for individuals to exercise autonomy over their lives.
  2. Social Mobility: The mobility of individuals for education and employment is facilitated by the nuclear family structure. Members can relocate without the constraints imposed by extended family obligations.
  3. Gender Roles and Equality: Nuclear families often reflect evolving gender roles and a move towards greater gender equality. With a smaller unit to manage, there is a higher likelihood of shared responsibilities between partners.
  4. Cohesive Social Unit: The nuclear family, being a cohesive unit, contributes to social stability. Its smaller size allows for more efficient decision-making, potentially fostering greater societal cohesion.

Challenges and Criticisms:

While the nuclear family has its advantages, it is not without challenges and criticisms. Critics argue that the emphasis on independence may contribute to social isolation, and the nuclear family structure may not adequately address the support needs of individuals, especially in times of crisis. Additionally, concerns are raised about the potential reinforcement of gender norms within the confined structure of a nuclear family.


In conclusion, the nuclear family represents a distinctive social unit characterized by autonomy, independence, and a focus on core familial relationships. Its evolution and prominence in modern society align with broader societal changes and individual aspirations for autonomy. While the nuclear family has become a dominant family structure, it coexists alongside diverse familial arrangements, each contributing to the rich tapestry of societal organization. Understanding the dynamics and functions of the nuclear family is crucial for a comprehensive grasp of the intricate interplay between family structures and societal dynamics, making it a pertinent topic for those preparing for the MA CUET exam.


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Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Question: Define the term “ethnic movement” and provide an example from India.

Answer: An ethnic movement refers to a collective effort by a group sharing common cultural, linguistic, or religious traits, seeking to assert their identity and rights; an example from India is the Khalistan Movement in Punjab.

2. Question: Identify the main objectives behind the Gorkhaland ethnic movement.

Answer: The Gorkhaland ethnic movement primarily seeks to establish a separate state for India’s Nepali-speaking population in the Darjeeling region, advocating for linguistic and cultural recognition and political autonomy.

3. Question: What was the Operation Blue Star, and which ethnic movement was it related to?
Answer: Operation Blue Star was a military action in 1984, aiming to remove Sikh militants hiding in the Golden Temple in Amritsar; it is related to the Khalistan movement, which sought a separate Sikh country.

4. Question: Mention a critical factor that triggered the emergence of ethnic movements in India, as discussed by Dipankar Gupta.
Answer: Dipankar Gupta emphasized that ethnicity is fundamentally a political process, wherein caste and religion, the key components of identity formation, are politicized by leaders for vested interests.

5. Question: What were the primary reasons for the Assam Ethnicity conflicts involving Bodo tribals and Bengali Muslim settlers?
Answer: The Assam Ethnicity conflicts primarily stemmed from issues related to immigration, land rights, and resource allocation, leading to clashes, riots, and evolving relationships among indigenous communities to address challenges.

6. Question: Briefly describe the role of the Dravidian Movement in terms of caste and societal structure.
Answer: The Dravidian Movement, led notably by E.V. Ramasamy, aimed to establish an egalitarian society, focusing on anti-Brahmanism and advocating for equal rights for backward castes, while also introducing reforms like self-respect marriages.

7. Question: Name the prominent ethnic movements in North-East India and specify one common objective.
Answer: Prominent ethnic movements in North-East India include the Nagas’ and Mizos’ struggles; a common objective was to gain autonomy and recognition for their distinct tribal identities and cultural uniqueness.

8. Question: What is the key argument of Gail Omveldt regarding traditional Indian society and multiculturalism?
Answer: Gail Omveldt opposed romanticizing traditional Indian society, arguing that hierarchy has always dominated it and dismissing the notion that multiculturalism is an intrinsic feature of Indian society as a myth.

9. Question: Briefly explain the social hierarchy factor as a contributing element to ethnic movements as suggested by Olzak.
Answer: Olzak suggests that the construction of hierarchies among ethnic communities, which often leads to the suppression of one group by another, is a key factor that can instigate social and ethnic movements.

10. Question: Identify one consequence of the unequal economic development factor within the context of ethnic movements in India.
Answer: One consequence of unequal economic development is the marginalization and underdevelopment of certain groups, leading to feelings of alienation and sometimes initiating ethnic movements as these groups strive for equality and recognition.

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