The social institute of the family is reflected in countless writings, from rural myths of the media to scientific sociological investigations. In fact, they all underline that the concept of the family always encompasses personal happiness and social stability. Except for personal value, family patterns appear essential because they are functioning as a central element in human societies.
An extensive range of literary studies on the family may be sequenced according to four stages. They are the preresearch which occurred before the middle of the nineteenth century, social Darwinism of the late nineteenth century, emerging science of the early twentieth century, and systematic theory building of the second half of the twentieth century.
The literature of the preresearch was mostly influenced by the mythology and enlightened family in an emotional and speculative way. Due to the social conservatism, numerous superstitions were dominant, therefore the content of that literature was rather biased towards the family. However, the works of philosophers and early feminists added some fresh look to the family overview of that era.
The social Darwinian period was the time when the family was viewed through historical, institutional, and comparative dimensions. Similarly to the idea of biological evolution, social evolution was supposed to proclaim the development of the family forms. Nevertheless, collection of data was still doubtful in the late nineteenth century, and validity of the examples is uncertain.
Emerging science gave us a thorough family research which used social survey techniques, statistics and systematic testing of hypotheses. At last, the family was studied not only as a social institution but also as an association. In the period of systematic theory building, scholars attempt to combine the research of the past with the recent studies to underline the miscellaneous nature of the institute of the family.