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What is the sociological definition of a family? Show more Show less
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The concept of “family” has evolved in recent decades. The intolerant view of a nuclear family, where a man and woman in wedlock have children and the male provides while the female undertakes child care responsibilities, no longer applies to many modern family units. So, what is a family?

It depends on the type of family and approach Show more Show less

The sociological definition of a family varies depending on the type of family.
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You cannot group all families under one sociological definition

Families appear in many guises and forms. No single sociological definition can effectively include all families, while excluding close friendship groups.
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There are many sociological constructs for a family. Therefore, it is impossible to group all units together under one definition.

The Argument

Low-income families function differently to high-income families. A “traditional” family with one parent of each gender has different characteristics to single-sex families, adoptive families, foster families, and estranged families. Families without children but with older dependents function differently to families with young children, which function differently to families with older children. It is not possible to pin down one single sociological definition for the diversity of “family” units. [1]

Counter arguments

A cross-cultural approach with a wide enough sample can, and has, defined the family unit. Families across the world share certain traits. They live under a shared roof. They have some level of economic dependency and integration, and the reproduce in some capacity (either biologically or through adoption/fostering). These criteria are applicable to family units across the world, whatever guise or form they take.


[P1] There are too many variables and forms to accurately define the notion of a family under one sociological definition.

Rejecting the premises

[P1] With a wide enough sample, a pattern emerges which allows for the deduction of a sociological definition of a family.




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This page was last edited on Monday, 29 Jun 2020 at 00:27 UTC

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