(noun) Two parents (traditionally a male and female) and their children living apart from their extended family.
- 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
- 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.
- Family and Kinship Resources – Books, Journals, and Helpful Links
- Word origin of “nuclear” and “family” – Online Etymology Dictionary: etymonline.com
- Harris, C. C. 1984. The Family and Industrial Society. London: G. Allen & Unwin.
- Ware, Lawrence, Moira Maconachie, Malcolm Williams, Joan Chandler, and Brian Dodgeon. 2007. “Gender Life Course Transitions from the Nuclear Family in England and Wales 1981–2001.” Sociological Research Online 12(4). doi:10.5153/sro.1544.
- extended family
- family life cycle
- family of orientation
- family of procreation
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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 March 22, 2019 (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 March 22, 2019. https://sociologydictionary.org/nuclear-family/.
MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)
“nuclear family.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 22 Mar. 2019. <https://sociologydictionary.org/nuclear-family/>.