In the 20th century there was considerable concern among sociologist that the family was losing its functions. In 1929 the American sociologist William F. Ogborn, reported that trends in American society indicated that economic, protective, recreational status-endowing educational, and religious functions of the family were being transferred to other institutions. The major function remaining in the family were affectional and procreative.
Other sociologists, such as Ernest W. Burgess, considered the shifting of a family functions to outside agencies as a form of adaptation to modern urban society.
Following World War II there was a resurgence of interest in the family as a social institution. William Lloyd Warner indicated how family and lineage were closely interwoven with the social class system in contemporary society.
Other sociologists turned their attention to ways in which family life and kinship affected an individual’s destiny. Assistance given by parents to their married children, visiting between kinsmen, and the organization of voluntary associations among relatives have suggested to social scientists that family and kinship institutions have retained important functions in modern urban society.
The relationship between social trends in modern society and the character of family and kinship is complex. First, some trends in society and family have continued in the same direction over a long time. Second, although other social trends have continued, their effect on family relations seems to be reversed after a certain point is reached. Third, still other social trends have changed and have produced corresponding modification in family and kinship.
The family affects characteristics of the society. Much of the study of family problems has come from the conception of the family as a unity of interacting personalities. This conception has stimulated research to discover those factors that disrupt family unity and create problems in interaction.
The role of the family in developing healthy personality attributes has received attention. Studies of children in institutions show the necessity of mothering, such as carrying, touching, and talking to the infant to void emotional and intellectual deficiencies in young children. Lack of a father may also inhibit the development of appropriate behavior patterns in boys and girls.