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Family

Posted by admin on January 22, 2011 with No Comments


In human context, a family (from Latin: familiare) is a group of people affiliated by consanguinity, affinity, or co-residence. In most societies it is the principal institution for the socialization of children. Extended from the human "family unit" by affinity, economy, culture, tradition, honor, and friendship are concepts of family that are metaphorical, or that grow increasingly inclusive extending to nationhood and humanism. A family group consisting of a father, mother and their children is called a nuclear family. This term can be contrasted with an extended family.

There are also concepts of family that break with tradition within particular societies, or those that are transplanted via migration to flourish or else cease within their new societies. As a unit of socialisation and a basic institution key to the structure of society, the family is the object of analysis for sociologists of the family. Genealogy is a field which aims to trace family lineages through history. In science, the term "family" has come to be used as a means to classify groups of objects as being closely and exclusively related. In the study of animals it has been found that many species form groups that have similarities to human "family"—often called "packs."

One of the primary functions of the family is to produce and reproduce persons, biologically and socially. 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. A conjugal family includes only the husband, the wife, and unmarried children who are not of age. The most common form of this family is regularly referred to in sociology as a nuclear family.[8] A consanguineal family consists of a parent and his or her children, and other people. Although the concept of consanguinity originally referred to relations by "blood", Cultural anthropologists[who?] 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. A matrilocal 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 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. 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 economical 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.

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:

* Mother: a female parent
* Father: a male parent
* Son: a male child of the parent(s)
* Daughter: a female child of the parent(s)
* Brother: a male child of the same parent(s)
* Sister: a female child of the same parent(s)
* Grandfather: father of a father or mother
* Grandmother: mother of a mother or father
* Cousins: two people that share the same Grandparent(s)

Such systems generally assume that the mother's husband has also served as 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 the western society the single parent family has been growing more accepted and has begun to truly make an impact on culture. The majority of single parent families are more commonly single mother families than single father. These families face many difficult issues besides the fact that they have to rear their children on their own, but also have to deal with issues related to low income. Many single parents struggle with low incomes and must cope with other issues, including rent, child care, and other necessities required in maintaining 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.

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