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History of Families

  • By: John Scanzoni
  • In: Encyclopedia of Family Health
  • Edited by: Martha Craft-Rosenberg & Shelley-Rae Pehler
  • Subject:Family Health, Family Policy, Family Law

Family history has several components. One refers to genes inherited from blood kin influencing the chances for a certain affliction. Recent biological research aims at tweaking those genes in hopes of making life better via improved health. Another component refers to our wider human family. That scenario shows how our forebears have over the millennia changed their patterns of inventing families—also in hopes of making life better.

The first momentous set of changes in families emerged some 10,000 years ago as humans discovered they could plant seeds and harvest food. The agricultural revolution meant that land became significant in ways unknown to humans' hunting-and-gathering ancestors. Land became a source of wealth, status, and power. The strongest men grabbed the best land and joined with their blood ...

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