nuclear family

(noun) Two parents (traditionally a male and female) and their children living apart from their extended family.

Examples:

  • The Obamas: Barrack and Michelle and their children Malia and Sasha
  • The Simpsons: Homer and Marge and their children Bart, Lisa, and Maggie

Audio Pronunciation: (nu·cle·ar fam·i·ly)

Download Audio Pronunciation: nuclear family.mp3

Usage Notes:

  • Plural: nuclear families
  • The definition of a nuclear family varies, some limit the term to only biological (consanguineal) children of a couple while others include stepchildren and adopted children as in a blended family.
  • An individual can be part of more than one nuclear family. For example, an individual can be a child in a family of orientation and a parent in a family of procreation.
  • Nuclear families are created in part due to primogeniture, or the tradition of inheritance going to the oldest male in the family.
  • A privatized nuclear family (also called isolated nuclear family) coined by Michael Young (1915–2002) and Peter Willmott (1923–2000) in The Symmetrical Family (1973), based on research in England refers to a nuclear family that is separated from any extended family and thus self-reliant.
  • A conjugal family is similar to a nuclear family, but a conjugal family does not require children.
  • Also called elementary family.
  • Nuclear family used in a sentence: The nuclear family fascinates sociologists and as the term provides a rich source for cross-cultural exploration.

Additional Information:

Related Terms: 

 


Works Consulted

Abercrombie, Nicholas, Stephen Hill, and Bryan Turner. 2006. The Penguin Dictionary of Sociology. 5th ed. London: Penguin.

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. 5th ed. 2011. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Andersen, Margaret L., and Howard Francis Taylor. 2011. Sociology: The Essentials. 6th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Brinkerhoff, David, Lynn White, Suzanne Ortega, and Rose Weitz. 2011. Essentials of Sociology. 8th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Bruce, Steve, and Steven Yearley. 2006. The SAGE Dictionary of Sociology. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

Brym, Robert J., and John Lie. 2007. Sociology: Your Compass for a New World. 3rd ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Collins English Dictionary: Complete and Unabridged. 6th ed. 2003. Glasgow, Scotland: Collins.

Farlex. (N.d.) TheFreeDictionary.com: Dictionary, Encyclopedia and Thesaurus. Farlex. (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/).

Ferrante, Joan. 2011. Sociology: A Global Perspective. 7th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Ferris, Kerry, and Jill Stein. 2010. The Real World: An Introduction to Sociology. 2nd ed. New York: Norton.

Griffiths, Heather, Nathan Keirns, Eric Strayer, Susan Cody-Rydzewski, Gail Scaramuzzo, Tommy Sadler, Sally Vyain, Jeff Bry, Faye Jones. 2016. Introduction to Sociology 2e. Houston, TX: OpenStax.

Henslin, James M. 2012. Sociology: A Down-to-Earth Approach. 10th ed. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Hughes, Michael, and Carolyn J. Kroehler. 2011. Sociology: The Core. 10th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Jary, David, and Julia Jary. 2000. Collins Dictionary of Sociology. 3rd ed. Glasgow, Scotland: HarperCollins.

Kendall, Diane. 2011. Sociology in Our Times. 8th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Kimmel, Michael S., and Amy Aronson. 2012. Sociology Now. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Kornblum, William. 2008. Sociology in a Changing World. 8th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Macionis, John. 2012. Sociology. 14th ed. Boston: Pearson.

Macmillan. (N.d.) Macmillan Dictionary. (https://www.macmillandictionary.com/).

Merriam-Webster. (N.d.) Merriam-Webster Dictionary. (http://www.merriam-webster.com/).

Oxford University Press. (N.d.) Oxford Dictionaries. (https://www.oxforddictionaries.com/).

Princeton University. 2010. WordNet. (https://wordnet.princeton.edu/).

Random House Webster’s College Dictionary. 1997. New York: Random House.

Ravelli, Bruce, and Michelle Webber. 2016. Exploring Sociology: A Canadian Perspective. 3rd ed. Toronto: Pearson.

Schaefer, Richard. 2013. Sociology: A Brief Introduction. 10th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Scott, John, and Gordon Marshall. 2005. A Dictionary of Sociology. New York: Oxford University Press.

Shepard, Jon M. 2010. Sociology. 11th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Shepard, Jon M., and Robert W. Greene. 2003. Sociology and You. New York: Glencoe.

Stewart, Paul, and Johan Zaaiman, eds. 2015. Sociology: A Concise South African Introduction. Cape Town: Juta.

Thompson, William E., and Joseph V. Hickey. 2012. Society in Focus: An Introduction to Sociology. 7th ed. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Thorpe, Christopher, Chris Yuill, Mitchell Hobbs, Sarah Tomley, and Marcus Weeks. 2015. The Sociology Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained. London: DK.

Tischler, Henry L. 2011. Introduction to Sociology. 10th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Turner, Bryan S., ed. 2006. The Cambridge Dictionary of Sociology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wikipedia contributors. (N.d.) Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation. (https://en.wikipedia.org/).

Wikipedia contributors. (N.d.) Wiktionary, The Free Dictionary. Wikimedia Foundation. (http://en.wiktionary.org).

 

How to Cite the Definition of Nuclear Family

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “nuclear family.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved December 16, 2018 (https://sociologydictionary.org/nuclear-family/).

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

nuclear family. (2013). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/nuclear-family/

Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “nuclear family.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed December 16, 2018. https://sociologydictionary.org/nuclear-family/.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“nuclear family.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 16 Dec. 2018. <https://sociologydictionary.org/nuclear-family/>.