Families play a significant part in individuals’ lives and society. In sociology, one approach is to view families as a small group, focusing on relational processes like support, socialization, conflict and intimacy that constitute interactions among family members.
Another approach views the family as a major social institution that interacts closely with other institutions including those affecting education, law, healthcare, religion, the economy, criminal justice and welfare.
The family - in its varied and diverse forms - is also key to understanding how inequality is experienced and reproduced in society, as substantial responsibility for caring, nurturing, and raising others is delegated to families. The interplay of these multiple levels - the micro or interpersonal, the meso or institutional, and the macro or structural - also interests sociologists, as individuals influence social structures and institutions, and the latter, in turn, affect family interactions and relationships.