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Families: the Basic Unit of Societies

  • By: Linda McKie & Samantha Callan
  • In: Encyclopedia of Family Health
  • Edited by: Martha Craft-Rosenberg & Shelley-Rae Pehler
  • Subject:Family Health, Family Policy, Family Law

What is meant by the term family varies across the world, and a range of family types can be identified in various cultures and societies. Definitions of the family emphasize a common identity, coresidence, economic cooperation, reproduction, emotional connectedness, care work, and domestic labor. For some commentators the core of a family is a heterosexual couple who have children that they raise to adulthood—the so-called nuclear family. Other types of families provide a context in which children grow up, and these include single-parent, same-sex, and stepparent families. Solo living and the choice to remain childless do not exclude people from family membership. Families offer more than procreation of the next generation, the nurturing of the young, sick, and old. Familial relationships and networks provide intimacy ...

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