Example: Nuclear family or extended family.
Audio Pronunciation: (fam·i·ly)
Download Audio Pronunciation: family.mp3
- Plural: families
- Due to the continuum of family variations across societies and cultures no single definition can encapsulate such a dynamic term but the underlying theme is sharing resources and responsibilities among the members such as living together, pooling economic resources, and caring for the young. Additionally, the term domestic group is sometime used as a replacement for family and even household because it is less problematic.
- Family, along with marriage, is a primary social unit for socialization.
- Family is a source ascribed statuses such as ethnicity and socioeconomic status.
- Defining family is not simply an academic exercise but a determinate of what is “normal” or “deviant.” The definition of family has numerous repercussions in legal and political systems.
- Early work into the sociology of the family by Talcott Parsons (1902–1979) and Robert Bales (1916–2004) contended that the primary functions of the family are primary socialization and personality stabilization in Family Socialization and Interaction Process (1955). Parsons and Bales were studying the nuclear family in the post-WWII years in the United States from the functionalist perspective.
- The term symmetrical family coined by Michael Young (1915–2002) and Peter Willmott (1923–200) in The Symmetrical Family (1973), based on research in England, describes the evolution of the family structure towards a more egalitarian model of joint conjugal-role relationships. The implications and criticisms of this work are oft discussed in the social sciences.
- The Sociology of Housework (1974) by Ann Oakley (1944) fueled the sociological discussion of domestic labor inside a family, as did The Second Shift: Working Parents and the Revolution at Home (1989) by Arlie Hochschild (1940) and Anne Machung over a decade later.
- Families We Choose: Lesbians, Gays, Kinship (1991) by Kath Weston and A World of their Own Making: Myth, Ritual, and the Quest for Family Values (1996) by John Gillis further challenged traditional notions of family and norms.
- A type of institution and social system.
- Also called:
- family unit
- Family and Kinship Resources – Books, Journals, and Helpful Links
- Word origin of “family” – Online Etymology Dictionary: etymonline.com
- Hill, Shirley A. 2012. Families: A Social Class Perspective. Los Angeles: SAGE/Pine Forge Press.
- Newman, David M. 2009. Families: A Sociological Perspective. Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill Higher Education.
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How to Cite the Definition of Family
ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “family.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved July 18, 2019 (http://sociologydictionary.org/family/).
APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)
family. (2013). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from http://sociologydictionary.org/family/
Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “family.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed July 18, 2019. http://sociologydictionary.org/family/.
MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)
“family.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 18 Jul. 2019. <http://sociologydictionary.org/family/>.