Saturday, August 3, 2019
What is a family? Not so long ago it would have been uncontroversial to reply, “A husband and wife and their children.” This conjugal family could be diminished by the death of a member, splintered by divorce, expanded by the co-residence of other relations (a grandmother, for example), an adopted child, or other persons; but the norm of mum, dad and their kids remained almost universally acknowledged.
In the mid-20th century the American anthropologist G. P. Murdoch defined the “nuclear” family as “a social group characterized by common residence, economic cooperation and reproduction. It contains adults of both sexes, at least two of whom maintain a socially approved sexual relationship, and one or more children, own or adopted, of the sexually cohabiting adults.” (Social Structure, 1949)
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