Sociology – Family Unit - Family Concepts And Definitions

Key terms on the family, family concepts and definitions for AS Sociology

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Emma Rudd BMA
26th November
Sociology ­ Family Unit Family Concepts and Definitions
What is the Family?
The majority of the world's population experience a form of family this can involve a wide
variety of options. For example, in the Toda culture in India a woman may be simultaneously
married to several men at the same time. In the Netherlands gay couples can marry, in Bali
twins can marry, as it is believed that twins have already been intimate in the womb, in the
Banaro culture of New Guinea the husband is forbidden to have sex with his wife until she
has born a child by another man chosen specifically for this purpose.
In Western culture the nuclear family (both parents and children) is seen as the natural /
desirable way to live. This is known as the dominant ideology. Even though there are
diverse types of families in Western culture the nuclear family is seen as the `best'.
Nuclear and Extended Families
There are a number of characteristics that are associated with the nuclear family. They are as
It is a small compact structure that is composed of a mother, father and usually
two or three children, who are biologically related.
It is assumed that the relationship between the adults is heterosexual.
The nuclear family is reinforced by marriage it is assumed that marriage encourages
fidelity and therefore family stability.
There is a clear division in labour it is believed that the female role within the
family should be primarily concerned with the emotional and nurturing roles of
motherhood and housework, and that the male function is to economically provide,
to protect the family, and to act as a disciplinary role model for the children.
Although it is now more widely accepted that there may be some overlap
between these roles and consequently men are doing more childcare and
housework than in the past. Nevertheless, the belief that the main responsibility for
parenting lies with mothers is still very powerful.
The extended family is a grouping consisting of all kin. There are two main types:
The classic extended family where several nuclear families are linked through
kinship ties and live in the same home together or nearby.
The modified extended family where related nuclear families, although they may
be living far apart form each other nevertheless maintain regular contact through
visits, phone calls, email etc.
Family Ideology
Family ideology refers to the view that a particular type of family and particular living
arrangements are the ideals that people should aspire to. In the UK popular definitions of the
family are dominated by the traditional view that a nuclear family is ideal, for the reasons
explained above.

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Emma Rudd BMA
26th November
A household is a unit of accommodation that might contain a number of different social
arrangements some of which might be considered to be families other might not. Families do
live in households but there are also other examples of households. For example some
people live on their own so this would be a single household, another example might be
students or young people who are unrelated but share a flat this is called a house share.…read more

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Emma Rudd BMA
26th November
premarital sex, marital sex and extramarital sex. The family also allow individuals
to know the difference between right and wrong backed up by positive and negative
The family also has a number to economic functions. It provides children with
economic support. The family provides the economy with workers and they are also
a central unit of economic consumption.…read more



try to give more definiton to more conceot 

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