GCSE Sociology: Family key terms and definitions

Key terms which I have got from the AQA exam board, with detailled explanations that I have done myself.

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Key terms for Family
Beanpole families ­ Families where there are very few children but the
inter-generational connections (grandparents, parents, children) are very strong.
For example, families where children are often looked after by their grandparents.
Bigamy ­ a marriage where someone is married to two people .This doesn't
necessarily mean the two spouses a person has live within the same house, it could
be that someone has separated from their husband/wife, and remarries without
divorcing their previous husband/wife.
Birth rate ­ the rate of births within a population, over a certain time. In Britain,
the birth rate is measured per 1000 of the population.
Breadwinner ­ a breadwinner is the person in a family/marriage that goes out to
work and provides for the family economically. The breadwinner was traditionally
the husband, but nowadays it is common for both the husband and wife to work.
Cereal packet family ­ the cereal packet family is the way the media presents the
family in advertisements; the typical nuclear family with married parents and two
Child-centredness ­ sociologists argue that the family has now become more
child-centred. This means that decisions made in the household depend on how it
will benefit the child, and can also mean that relationships between children and
others are formed on the basis of what the child can gain from the relationship.
The opposite of this is family centred-ness, where decisions in the household are
made to benefit the family as a whole.
Civil partnership ­ Civil partnerships allow same sex couples the same rights and
responsibilities as legally married couples. The only real difference is that
partnership between same sex couples is not recognised by religious authorities.
Cohabitation ­ where a couple are not married but live together. Cohabitation is on
the rise because there is no longer any real stigma relating to sex outside of
wedlock so there is less pressure to get married. Cohabiting couples do not have the
same rights as married couples and only get similar rights after cohabiting for 5
Commune ­ a commune is an alternative to the mainstream idea of family. Communes
are collective communities consisting of lots of families which share possessions
and property. Everyone has equal rights, and income and wealth is often shared.
There is no social hierarchy and everyone contributes their craft and work skills
for the good of the commune as a whole.
Conjugal roles- joint/segregated ­ conjugal roles are the different roles the
husband and wife have in the family, which consist of the jobs and responsibilities
each spouse has in the household. In joint conjugal roles, the husband and wife
share housework, childcare and leisure time and even though the type of housework
each spouse does might be different, they have an equal share. In segregated
conjugal roles, one spouse might bear all the housework whilst the other has all the
leisure time, and their roles are unequal.
Death rate ­ the number of deaths per 1000 in a population.
Democratic relationships ­ relationships between husband and wife where each
person gets an equal say in the household decisions and no spouse has all the power
in the relationship. Democratic relationships can also be between parent and child,

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Demography ­ the study of the general population, in terms of statistics such as
birth/death rate, or marriage/divorce rate. It attempts to explain patterns across
the population.
Domestic abuse ­ violence within the home. It can develop where there is an
inequality between husband and wife and one exercises power over the other,
whether this is through violence, controlling the other person's social activities or
being intimidating towards them.…read more

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Matriarchal family ­ a family where the mother takes the ruling position in the
household and is the head of the family, making most of the decision.
Monogamy ­ marriage between one man and one woman. Serial monogamy is when
someone develops a habit of divorcing and remarrying.…read more




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