Over the last couple of decades there has been a significant shift in thinking away from a societal nation and more of a leaning towards an individualistic one. But to what extent is this true? Can it solely be that we as individuals only help each other out by following our own self-interest or is there a wider collective society that makes the cogs of civilisation work? And, how much of an influence does the family play in all of this? We try and give sense of perspective to why many think that family are important to society.
Adam Smith once said that: “It is not by the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their interest.” This statement simply advocates and amplifies the fact that we live in an individualistic society. This argument suggests that if we follow our own interests then it will lead to further progression in society and increased living standards. However, this motivation to do well usually breeds out of wanting to increase opportunities for the family.
It is an interesting theory to suggest that we are ultimately unable to live in a completely individual society as we need support of our parents and guardians from birth. For example when we are born, we are helpless. We cannot feed ourselves, we cannot stand and we cannot defend ourselves. For many of us it takes until we are teenagers to become fully self-sufficient. This therefore very much infers that we live in a family orientated world.
It is the unfortunate reality that those who are regularly deprived of human contact will suffer from psychological problems such as stress, anxiety and depression. This is because we are social animals and just as if the ant is dependent on the ant colony and the wolf is dependent on the wolfpack humans depend on other humans. Simply put, independence is not the natural state of human thought. A great source of this human interaction can be achieved through the family.
Family mirror society
The family could also represent a good grounding for mirroring a well-functioning society. For example different members of the family all have different roles and if one fails then so could the workings of the family. A family could therefore be viewed as a microscopic version of the wider society. This is a reason why family is crucial to society at large. Whilst nowadays family compositions are all different, the same principle applies that different family members are dependent on one another.
Families are crucial to the individuals that make up society. A reason for this is because families can shape the individuals that live in a society. This is because they are essentially passing on values to those that are the future lease holders to a society. When children have the support of the family they are far more likely to contribute effectively to society. Unfortunately, the fact is that the families that do not offer this support ensure their children are more likely to not transmit these family values.
It is said that the heart of most debates come down to the very broad question of ‘Nature Vs Nurture. And if you subscribe to a theory determined by nurture then the family becomes increasingly important. This is because the family determines the way people will think and act as they grow older. Every action or word will influence behaviours, attitudes and values of an individual as they become adults.
Simply in terms of economic value the extended family are worth millions to the UK economy every year. By this we mean the time spent looking after grandchildren, nieces or nephews usually have no monetary value attached to them which not only saves on the cost of childcare but also allows many to go to work. More than this, the extended family are able to provide useful advice and help us lead more positive lifestyles.
Whilst our modern world offers a lot of unpredictability determined by its fast paced nature, family offers a constant. It might be your son or daughter sitting in their favourite seat, it could be the home town you and your family reside in or it could be meeting up every few months. The important thing to remember is that usually you can depend on someone in the family.
The stability that we refer to hear nearly always comes from family. But family can mean literally anyone that you have a certain affinity with or kinship to. Therefore, everyone is able to find solace in the above mentioned life enhancements with the support and stability of those around them.