A social institution is a set of rules & regulations which are part of an organization which fulfills an important function of society. Such as, a family is an important institution in a society.
The family has been defined as a social group, related by ancestry, marriage or adoption who live together & form an economic unit & cooperatively rear their young. There are two basic types of family. They are the extended family & the nuclear family. The extended family is made up of more than two generations, like grandparents, their children & their grandchildren. And the nuclear family is made up of husband & wife & their dependent children. A family has some functions. They are-
a) Socialization: The family rears the children & gives them the social experience of learning the ways of their respective culture. This process is known as ‘socialization’.
b) Reproductive & Sexual functions: In almost all societies it is the family which is the legitimate institution; it allows the continuation of generations by recognizing, socially & legally, the offspring born to a married couple.
c) Economic functions: Where husband & wife share their resources, own many things together & take up financial burdens together.
d) Identity & Social status: A person acquires a sense of identity directly from the family. And the ascribed status of an individual is transferred from the family to the individual.
e) Emotional security: One of the fundamental functions that a modern family performs lies in providing emotional security & support to its members. The emotional security is still largely taken up by the family.
Thus, the family is one of the fundamental & basic social institutions.