Sociology: Family and Households (Family Types)

These cards will look into different family types and what they are made up of as well as why people would choose to be in that kind of family.

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Definition of Family and Household

The family is a group of people related by blood or law e.g. A Nuclear Family is related through blood whereas a reconstituted family is related through law.

A household is a group of people living together but can be unrelated e.g. At University many students live in houseshares as they are financially cheaper that accomodation on campus

Next you will be looking at the Types of families.

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Nuclear Family

The Nuclear Family is usually made up of two generations. It is stereotypically married parents with their biological children. They are seen as the ideal or 'cereal packet' family.

The Nuclear Family became the ideal family after Industrialisation due to more job opportunities, and a smaller family meant they would be more geographically mobile and able to move to wherever the male 'breadwinner' needed to go to provide for his family.

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Extended (Horizontally)

The extended family is also made up of two generations. It usually has an addition to it outside of the nuclear family such as the parent's siblings or nieces and nephews.

People may want to live in this family type for financial/ emotional support. An example of a Horizontally extended family portrayed by the media would be the family in 'The Fresh Prince of Bel Air'.

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Beanpole (vertically extended)

The Bean pole family is usually made up of about 3-4 generations (usually). This is because parents with children may move in with their parents if they offer emotional and financial supprt, the support can also be reversed, that the grandparents need to be looked after.

An example of this type of family portrayed by the media is 'Mrs Browns Boys'.

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Single/Lone Parent

Single/ Lone Parent families are usually made up of 2 generations (parent and child). This is usually when there is one parent left looking after the child(ren).

This usually happens when the parents are divorced or seperated or in some cases when one parent has passed away.

This type of family is also known as a 'Broken Nuclear Family'

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Reconstituted families are usually made up of 2 generations. It is usually when two halves of families come together or a missing person is replaced.

Making the reconstituted family step family.

An example would be Ian Beal and Jane Beal from Soap Opera, Eastenders (Jane, replacing the place of the mother to Ian's Children).

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Modified extended (both vertically and horizontall

Modified extended families are usually made up of 3 to 4 generations. This is where everyone lives together (parents, children, aunts, uncles, cousins, children).

People may wish to be in this family type for business reasons e.g. farmers family.

This would have been the norm (like todays Nuclear Family) before Industrialisation.

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Single person household

This is where someone is living alone.

There are many advantages and disadvantages to different familiy types, in some cases people can choose and in others, people can't choose. It usually depends on what suits the individual best in consideration with their situation.

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Cohabitation: This is where two people (partners) decide to live together without being married.

Statistics show that 11% of dependant children are brought up by cohabiting parents.

This can be seen as a trial marriage for many people and has become more acceptable and more of a norm over the years.

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Same Sex (Gay/Lesbian) Families

This is when the parents of the family are same sex (gay, lesbian).

This family type is mainly dependent on the individuals sexual orientation. Due to the Civil Partnership Act 2005, same sex couples have been allowed to get married and are now able to have children, this can be through adoption, IVF or other methods.

This family type is especially favoured by Feminists as it promotes womens independence and a 'world without men', this is also because withought men, there is no patriarchal control.

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Rayanne :)


you forgot about same sex (gay/lesbian) families **

Robina Jaffri


Oh I have, Thank you, I'll add them in now :) x



this is soo helpful ;) thankks x

Isabella Swan .. Edward Cullen ***


Helped me a lot when making my own revision notes thanx *** :D

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