In the Middle East today, the issue of the family is an important political and economic issue. The larger family unit is the basic unit of social organization and the focus of current social change in the Arabic World.

The family in the traditional Middle Eastern society performs many of the functions that are expected of the state, and has been at the center of social organization in the three Arab patterns of living (bedouin, rural and urban), but it is specifically important in the tribal, peasants and urban poor societies.

In the West, the social and economic responsibilities were taken on by the religious hierarchy and then by the state. In the Middle East, this has not taken effect in the same way, which makes the place and function of the family so crucial.

Through the family, persons and groups inherit their religious, social class and cultural identity.