Family: - is a group of people affiliated by consanguinity (by recognized birth), affinity (by
marriage), or co-residence/shared consumption (see Nurture kinship). Members of the immediate
family may include a spouse, parent, brother and sister, and son and daughter. Members of the
extended family may include grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin, nephew and niece, or sibling-in-law.
In most societies the family is the principal institution for the socialization of children. As the basic
unit for raising children,anthropologists most generally classify family organization as matrifocal (a
mother and her children); conjugal (a husband, his wife, and children; also called nuclear family);
avuncular (for example a brother, his sister, and her children); or extended family in which parents
and children co-reside with other members of one parent's family. As a unit of socialization, the
family is the object of analysis for anthropologists and sociologists of the family. Sexual relations
among the members are regulated by rules concerning incest such as the incest taboo.
"Family" is used metaphorically to create more inclusive categories such as community,
nationhood, global village and humanism.
Genealogy is a field which aims to trace family lineages through history.
Family is also an important economic unit studied in family economics.
The social reproduction of the family
One of the primary functions of the family is to produce and reproduce persons, biologically
and/or socially. This can occur through the sharing of material substances (such as food); the giving
and receiving of care and nurture (nurture kinship); jural rights and obligations; and moral and
sentimental ties. Thus, one's experience of one's family shifts over time. From the perspective of
children, the family is a "family of orientation": the family serves to locate children socially and
plays a major role in their enculturation and socialization. From the point of view of the parent(s),
the family is a "family of procreation," the goal of which is to produce and enculturate and
socialize children. However, producing children is not the only function of the family; in societies
with a sexual division of labor, marriage, and the resulting relationship between two people, it is
necessary for the formation of an economically productive household.
Christopher Harris notes that the western conception of family is ambiguous, and confused with
the household, as revealed in the different contexts in which the word is used:
"We have seen that people can refer to their relatives as 'the family.' 'All the family turned up for
the funeral.... But of course, my brother didn't bring his family along - they're much too young.'
Here the reference is to the offspring (as distinct from 'all' the family). The neighbors were very
good, too. 'The Jones came, and their two children. It was nice, the whole family turning up like
that.' Here the usage is more restricted than 'relatives' or 'his relatives,' but includes just both
parents and offspring. 'Of course, the children will be leaving home soon. It's always sad to see the
family break up like that.' Here the reference is not only to parents and children but to their co-
residence, that is, to the household. “Olivia Harris states this confusion is not accidental, but
indicative of the familial ideology of capitalist, western countries that pass social legislation that
insists members of a nuclear family should live together, and that those not so related should not
live together; despite the ideological and legal pressures, a large percentage of families do not
conform to the ideal nuclear family type
The diverse data coming from ethnography, history, law and social statistics, establish that the
human family is an institution and not a biological fact founded on the natural relationship of
consanguinity. The different types of families occur in a wide variety of settings, and their specific
functions and meanings depend largely on their relationship to other social institutions. Although
the concept of consanguinity originally referred to relations by "blood," cultural anthropologists
have argued that one must understand the idea of "blood" metaphorically and that many societies
understand family through other concepts rather than through genetic distance. Sociologists have
a special interest in the function and status of these forms in stratified (especially capitalist)
Conjugal (nuclear) family
The term "nuclear family" is to refer to conjugal families. A "conjugal" family includes only the
husband, the wife, and unmarried children who are not of age.
A "matrifocal" family consists of a mother and her children. Generally, these children are her
biological offspring, although adoption of children is a practice in nearly every society. This kind of
family is common where women have the resources to rear their children by themselves, or where
men are more mobile than women.
The term "extended family" is. This term has two distinct meanings. First, it serves as a synonym of
" consanguine family" (consanguine means "of the same blood"). Second, in societies dominated
by the conjugal family, it refers to "kindred" (an egocentric network of relatives that extends
beyond the domestic group) who do not belong to the conjugal family.
The term blended family or step family describes families with mixed parents: one or both parents
remarried, bringing children of the former family into the new family. Also in sociology, particularly
in the works of social psychologist Michael Lamb, traditional family refers to "a middleclass family
with a bread-winning father and a stay-at-home mother, married to each other and raising their
biological children," and nontraditional to exceptions from this rule. Most of the US households
are now non-traditional under this definition.
In terms of communication patterns in families, there are a certain set of beliefs within the family
that reflect how its members should communicate and interact. These family communication
patterns arise from two underlying sets of beliefs. One being conversation orientation (the degree
to which the importance of communication is valued) and two, conformity orientation (the degree
to which families should emphasize similarities or differences regarding attitudes, beliefs, and
Degrees of kinship
A first-degree relative is one who shares 50% of your DNA, such as a full sibling, parent or progeny.
Kinship Closeness Genetic
Identical twins not applicable 99.9%
Full sibling first-degree 50%
Parent first-degree 50%
Offspring/progeny first-degree 50%
Half-sibling second-degree 25%
Aunt/uncle second-degree 25%
Niece/nephew second-degree 25%
First cousin third-degree 12.5%
Half-aunt, half-uncle third-degree 12.5%
Half-niece/half-nephew third-degree 12.5%
First cousin once
Second cousin fifth-degree 3.125%
Third cousin seventh-degree 0.781%
Anthropologist Lewis Henry Morgan performed the first survey of kinship terminologies in use
around the world.
Morgan identified six basic patterns of kinship terminologies:
Hawaiian: only distinguishes relatives based upon sex and generation.
Sudanese: no two relatives share the same term.
Eskimo: in addition to distinguishing relatives based upon sex and generation, also
distinguishes between lineal relatives and collateral relatives.
Iroquois: in addition to sex and generation, also distinguishes between siblings of opposite
sexes in the parental generation.
Crow: a matrilineal system with some features of an Iroquois system, but with a "skewing"
feature in which generation is "frozen" for some relatives.
Omaha: like a Crow system but patrilineal.
Most Western societies employ Eskimo kinship terminology. This kinship terminology commonly
occurs in societies based on conjugal (or nuclear) families, where nuclear families have a degree of
relative mobility. Members of the nuclear use descriptive kinship terms:
Father: a male parent
Mother: a female parent
Son: a male child of the parent(s)
Daughter: a female child of the parent(s)
Brother: a male sibling
Sister: a female sibling
Grandfather: the father of a parent
Grandmother: the mother of a parent
Cousins: two people who share at least one grandparent in common, but neither the same
Such systems generally assume that the mother's husband is also the biological father. In some
families, a woman may have children with more than one man or a man may have children with
more than one woman. The system refers to a child who shares only one parent with another child
as a "half-brother" or "half-sister". For children who do not share biological or adoptive parents in
common, English-speakers use the term "stepbrother" or "stepsister" to refer to their new
relationship with each other when one of their biological parents marries one of the other child's
biological parents. Any person (other than the biological parent of a child) who marries the parent
of that child becomes the "stepparent" of the child, either the "stepmother" or "stepfather". The
same terms generally apply to children adopted into a family as to children born into the family.
Typically, societies with conjugal families also favor neolocal residence; thus upon marriage a
person separates from the nuclear family of their childhood (family of orientation) and forms a
new nuclear family (family of procreation). However, in western society the single parent family
has been growing more accepted and has begun to make an impact on culture. Single parent
families are more commonly single mother families than single father. These families sometimes
face difficult issues besides the fact that they have to rear their children on their own, for example
low income making it difficult to pay for rent, child care, and other necessities for a healthy and
safe home. Members of the nuclear families of members of one's own (former) nuclear family may
class as lineal or as collateral. Kin who regard them as lineal refer to them in terms that build on
the terms used within the nuclear family:
Grandfather: a parent's father
Grandmother: a parent's mother
Grandson: a child's son
Granddaughter: a child's daughter
For collateral relatives, more classificatory terms come into play, terms that do not build on the
terms used within the nuclear family:
Uncle: father's brother, mother's brother, father's sister's husband, mother's sister's husband
Aunt: father's sister, mother's sister, father's brother's wife, mother's brother's wife
Nephew: brother's son, sister's son, husband's brother's son, husband's sister's son, wife's
brother's son, wife's sister's son
Niece: brother's daughter, sister's daughter, husband's brother's daughter, husband's sister's
daughter, wife's brother's daughter, wife's sister's daughter
When additional generations intervene (in other words, when one's collateral relatives belong to
the same generation as one's grandparents or grandchildren), the prefixes "great-" or "grand-"
modifies these terms. Also, as with grandparents and grandchildren, as more generations
intervene the prefix becomes "great-grand-," adding an additional "great-" for each additional
generation. Most collateral relatives have never had membership of the nuclear family of the
members of one's own nuclear family.
Cousin: the most classificatory term; the children of uncles or aunts. One can further distinguish
cousins by degrees of collaterality and by generation. Two persons of the same generation who
share a grandparent count as "first cousins" (one degree of collaterality); if they share a great-
grandparent they count as "second cousins" (two degrees of collaterality) and so on. If two
persons share an ancestor, one as a grandchild and the other as a great-grandchild of that
individual, then the two descendants class as "first cousins once removed" (removed by one
generation); if they shared ancestor figures as the grandparent of one individual and the great-
great-grandparent of the other, the individuals class as "first cousins twice removed" (removed by
two generations), and so on. Similarly, if they shared ancestor figures as the great-grandparent of
one person and the great-great-grandparent of the other, the individuals class as "second cousins
once removed". Hence one can refer to a "third cousin once removed upwards."
Cousins of an older generation (in other words, one's parents' first cousins), although technically
first cousins once removed, are often classified with "aunts" and "uncles." Similarly, a person may
refer to close friends of one's parents as "aunt" or "uncle," or may refer to close friends as
"brother" or "sister," using the practice of fictive kinship. English-speakers mark relationships by
marriage (except for wife/husband) with the tag "-in-law." The mother and father of one's spouse
become one's mother-in-law and father-in-law; the female spouse of one's child becomes one's
daughter-in-law and the male spouse of one's child becomes one's son-in-law. The term "sister-in-
law" refers to three essentially different relationships, either the wife of one's sibling, or the sister
of one's spouse, or, in some uses, the wife of one's spouse's sibling. "Brother-in-law" expresses a
similar ambiguity. The terms "half-brother" and "half-sister" indicate siblings who share only one
biological or adoptive parent.
History of theories of the family
Early scholars of family history applied Darwin's biological theory of evolution in their theory of
evolution of family systems. American anthropologist Lewis H. Morgan published Ancient Society
in 1877 based on his theory of the three stages of human progress from Savagery through
Barbarism to Civilization. Morgan's book was the "inspiration for Friedrich Engels' book" The Origin
of the Family, Private Property and the State published in 1884.
Engels expanded Morgan's hypothesis that economic factors caused the transformation of
primitive community into a class-divided society. Engels' theory of resource control, and later that
of Karl Marx, was used to explain the cause and effect of change in family structure and function.
The popularity of this theory was largely unmatched until the 1980s, when other sociological
theories, most notably structural functionalism, gained acceptance.
The nuclear family in industrial society
Contemporary society generally views the family as a haven from the world, supplying absolute
fulfillment. Zinn and Eitzen discuss the image of the "family as haven a place of intimacy, love and
trust where individuals may escape the competition of dehumanizing forces in modern society".
During industrialization, "[t]he family as a repository of warmth and tenderness (embodied by the
mother) stands in opposition to the competitive and aggressive world of commerce (embodied by
the father). The family's task was to protect against the outside world." However, Zinn and Eizen
note, "The protective image of the family has waned in recent years as the ideals of family
fulfillment have taken shape. Today, the family is more compensatory than protective. It supplies
what is vitally needed but missing in other social arrangements."
"The popular wisdom", according to Zinn and Eitzen, sees the family structures of the past as
superior to those today, and families as more stable and happier at a time when they did not have
to contend with problems such as illegitimate children and divorce. They respond to this, saying,
"there is no golden age of the family gleaming at us in the far back historical past.”Desertion by
spouses, illegitimate children, and other conditions that are considered characteristics of modern
timesexisted in the past as well."
The postmodern family
Others argue that whether or not one views the family as "declining" depends on one's definition
of "family". Married couples have dropped below half of all American households. This drop is
shocking from traditional forms of the family system. Only a fifth of households were following
traditional ways of having married couples raising a family together. In the Western World,
marriages are no longer arranged for economic, social or political gain, and children are no longer
expected to contribute to family income. Instead, people choose mates based on love. This
increased role of love indicates a societal shift toward favoring emotional fulfilment and
relationships within a family, and this shift necessarily weakens the institution of the family
Margaret Mead considers the family as a main safeguard to continuing human progress.
Observing, "Human beings have learned, laboriously, to be human", she adds: "we hold our
present form of humanity on trust, [and] it is possible to lose it" ... "It is not without significance
that the most successful large-scale abrogation of the family have occurred not among simple
savages, living close to the subsistence edge, but among great nations and strong empires, the
resources of which were ample, the populations huge, and the power almost unlimited
Oedipal family model and fascism
The model, common in the western societies, of the family triangle, husband-wife-children
isolated from the outside, is also called the oedipal model of the family, and it is a form of
patriarchal family. Many philosophers and psychiatrists have analyzed such a model. In such a
family, they argue, the young develop in a perverse relationship, wherein they learn to love the
same person who beats and oppresses them. They believe that young children grow up and
develop loving a person who is oppressing them physically or mentally, and that these children are
not taught in a way that will raise affectionate children. Such philosophers claim that the family
therefore constitutes the first cell of the fascist society, as the children will carry this attitude of
love for oppressive figures in their adult life. They claim that fathers torment their sons. Deleuze
and Guattari, in their analysis of the dynamics at work within a family, "track down all varieties of
fascism, from the enormous ones that surround and crush us to the petty ones that constitute the
tyrannical bitterness of our everyday lives"
As it has been explained by Deleuze, Guattari and Foucault, as well as other philosophers and
psychiatrists such as Laing and Reich, the patriarchal-family conceived in the West tradition serves
the purpose of perpetuating a propertarian and authoritarian society. The child grows according to
the oedipal model, which is typical of the structure of capitalist societies, and he becomes in turn
owner of submissive children and protector of the woman.
As the young undergoes physical and psychological repression from someone for whom they
develop love, they develop a loving attitude towards authority figures. They will bring such
attitude in their adult life, when they will desire social repression and will form docile subjects for
society. Michel Foucault, in his systematic study of sexuality, argued that rather than being merely
repressed, the desires of the individual are efficiently mobilized and used, to control the individual,
alter interpersonal relationships and control the masses. Foucault believed organized religion,
through moral prohibitions, and economic powers, through advertising, make use of unconscious
sex drives. Dominating desire, they dominate individuals. According to the analysis of Michel
Foucault, in the west:
The [conjugal] family organization, precisely to the extent that it was insular and heteromorphous
with respect to the other power mechanisms, was used to support the great "maneuvers"
employed for the Malthusian control of the birthrate, for the populationist incitements, for the
medicalization of sex and the psychiatrization of its nongenital forms.
Domestic violence (DV) is violence that happens within the family. The legal and social
understanding of the concept of DV differs by culture. The definition of the term "domestic
violence" varies, depending on the context in which it is used. It may be defined differently in
medical, legal, political or social contexts. The definitions have varied over time, and vary in
different parts of the world.
The Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence
" “domestic violence” shall mean all acts of physical, sexual, psychological or economic violence
that occur within the family or domestic unit or between former or current spouses or partners,
whether or not the perpetrator shares or has shared the same residence with the victim".
Forced and child marriages are practiced in certain regions of the world, particularly in Asia and
Africa, and these types of marriages are associated with a high rate of DV.
Natalism is the belief that human reproduction is the basis for individual existence, and therefore
promotes having large families. Many religions, e.g., Islam, Christianity and Judaism, encourage
their followers to procreate and have many children, however many of them also propound
stewardship and responsibility to care for the environment and society. In recent times, however,
there has been an increasing amount of family planning and a following decrease in the total
fertility rate in many parts of the world, in part due to improvements in health care, concerns of
overpopulation, decreasing need for manual labor and increasing cost of raising a child as workers
need to be more skilled. Many countries with population decline offer incentives for people to
have large families as a means of national efforts to reverse declining populations.
Family rights and laws
Reproductive rights are legal rights and freedoms relating to reproduction and reproductive
health. These include the right to decide on issues regarding the number of children born, family
planning, contraception, and private life, free from coercion and discrimination; as well as the right
to access health services and adequate information.  According to UNFPA,
reproductive rights "include the right to decide the number, timing and spacing of children, the
right to voluntarily marry and establish a family, and the right to the highest attainable standard of
health, among others" reproductive rights.
Mothers' rights movements focus on maternal health, workplace issues such as labor rights,
breastfeeding, and rights in family law.
The fathers' rights movement is a movement whose members are primarily interested in issues
related to family law, including child custody and support, that affect fathers and their children
Children's rights are the human rights of children, with particular attention to the rights of special
protection and care afforded to minors, including their right to association with both parents, their
right to human identity, their right to be provided in regard to their other basic needs, and their
right to be free from violence and abuse.
Each jurisdiction has its own marriage laws. These laws differ significantly from country to country;
and these laws are often controversial. Areas of controversy include women's rights as well as
same sex marriage.
Work-family balance is a concept involving proper prioritizing between work/career and family life.
It includes issues relating to the way how work and families intersect and influence each other. At
a political level, it is reflected through policies such maternity leave and paternity leave.
Family medicine is a medical specialty devoted to comprehensive health care for people of all
ages; it is based on knowledge of the patient in the context of the family and the community,
emphasizing disease prevention and health promotion. The importance of family medicine is being
Maternal mortality or maternal death is defined by WHO as "the death of a woman while pregnant
or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy, irrespective of the duration and site of the
pregnancy, from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or its management but not
from accidental or incidental causes. “Historically, maternal mortality was a major cause of
women's death. In recent decades, advances in healthcare have resulted in rates of maternal
mortality having dropped dramatically, especially in Western countries. Maternal mortality
however remains a serious problem in many African and Asian counties.
Infant and child mortality
Infant mortality is the death of a child less than one year of age. Child mortality is the death of a
child before the child's fifth birthday. Like maternal mortality, infant and child mortality were
common throughout history, but have decreased significantly in modern times.
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