The family has lost many functions because other specialised agencies have emerged to meet the increasing demands of industrialisation and urbanisation.
Agricultural economy, especially the plough culture, led to the expansion of the family. Farm work requires more labour.
This is met by expanding the family. The result is the extended or the joint family. The family is the unit of production in rural subsistence agriculture.
Rise of cities brought about changes in the nature of the family. The city life at the beginning gave up connection with land and tended to specialise in handicrafts. Crafts lead to specialisation which diminishes the family.
Need for labour in such families was at first satisfied by apprentices and then by paid labour. Family labour was not indispensable and so the family began to shrink. But work was still done at home and the wife was even then engaged in housekeeping.
The small size of the family may also be due to the discovery and introduction of birth control. Reduction in time for rearing children is also an important factor.
In India, especially among the well-to-do families children are sent to boarding houses from the very childhood. Even among the middle class people where both the father and the mother are engaged in regular day time work, children are usualy sent to the nursery schools.
The families now rear very young children who are thus brought up in the midst of much older people. It hampers the growth of child’s personality.
This is further affected by the constant change of residence in urban areas. Children are thereby deprived of vital social contacts. This is further aggravated by the daily movements of the father and sometimes of the mother took to their centre of work.
The child is left to the care of the menials. In agricultural families leadership is with the husband. It is now disappearing in the cities as the wife also earns independently. Marriage has become necessary for companionship which presupposes equality between the two mates.