Elena and Cam met through friends when they were in their early twenties. Elena had been out of college for two years and worked in the city procurement office; she took graduate classes in operations management, but she’d need a few more years to finish her Master’s. Cam had received extensive computing training while in the Navy and was a database architect at an insurance company.
In their first few years of dating, the idea of marriage came up mostly through other people. Friends’ weddings seemed like monthly events, and “who’s next?” small talk was unavoidable. Elena’s grandmother and aunts added to the chorus; they talked about their home country, where women were married with a couple of children by the time they reached Elena’s age. (Elena often pointed out that they were wrong, and the average age of marriage had been climbing for decades.) These pressures were pretty minor at first. They came in the form of jokes, wedding dress texts, and the occasional insult about Cam’s salary. But every once in a while, someone would sit Elena down for a serious talk, or corner Cam while he was at a family gathering.
Most of Elena’s family predicted that things would change when she earned her graduate degree and could “focus on her family.” Things did change; Elena became compliance officer for the office of city services, resulting in almost a ten percent increase in her salary. Cam became a supervisor three months later. They moved out of their apartment, which was in Cam’s mother’s garage, and into their own place downtown. They were happy. They were committed to each other. They didn’t get married.
Five years later, Elena and Cam were still living downtown, but they’d traded their rental for a condo. Aside from work, they co-founded a nonprofit where Elena taught financial literacy and Cam ran computing boot camps for recent immigrants and refugees. Maybe it was the hundreds of children they met through the organization, or maybe it was seeing their friends’ kids, or maybe it was being in her thirties, but Elena realized she wanted to be a mother. They started the adoption process, and eighteen months later welcomed a young girl who had been born in another country.
When did Elena and Cam become a family? Was it when they moved in together? When they adopted the child? Does not being married matter (Conerly, et. al, 2021)?
Think Like a Sociologist
Consider the list below. Which of these living arrangements do you count as a family?
Compare your responses to the data in Figure 12.1 below. How closely do your attitudes align with other Americans?
Figure 12.1 Survey Responses to the Question, “Which Living Arrangements Count as a Family?”
Source: Powell, Brian (2014) “Changing Counts, Counting Change: Toward a More Inclusive Definition of Family,” Journal of the Indiana Academy of the Social Sciences: Vol. 17: Issue 1, Article 2. Retrieved from: https://digitalcommons.butler.edu/jiass/vol17/iss1/2.
Once upon a time, family arrangements like the one discussed in the opening story did not exist, or so the popular television shows of the time would have had us believe. Neither did non-white families, single-parent households, blended families, gay couples, interracial couples, mothers working outside the home, couples deciding not to have children, family violence, or other family forms and situations that we are increasingly aware of today. Domestic violence existed, of course, but it was not something that television shows and other popular media back then depicted. Diversity in families has always existed but has become much more common today. In other words: Families are changing.
Families shown in today’s television shows are very different from the traditional family depicted in popular television shows of the 1950s. Television families from the 1950s consisted of two heterosexual parents, with the father working outside the home and the mother staying at home with two or more wholesome children. ABC Television – Public domain – Wikimedia Commons
The 1950s gave us Leave It to Beaver and other television shows that depicted loving, happy, “traditional” families living in the suburbs. The father worked outside the home, the mother stayed at home to take care of the kids and do housework, and their children were wholesome youngsters who rarely got into trouble and certainly did not use drugs or have sex. Today we have ABC’s Modern Family, which features one traditional family (two heterosexual parents and their three children) and two nontraditional families (one with an older white man and a younger Latina woman and her child, and another with two gay men and their adopted child). Many other television shows today and in recent decades have featured divorced couples or individuals, domestic violence, and teenagers doing drugs or committing crime.
Yet, for decades, we have heard clarion calls from popular cultural figures about the demise of “The American Family.” They tell us that too many parents are too busy working at their jobs to raise their kids “properly.” They tell us of domestic violence, and about kids living without fathers, because their parents either are divorced or never were married in the first place. We hear of young people having babies, using drugs, and/or committing violence. They also tell us that the breakdown of the nuclear family, the entrance of women into the labor force, and the growth of single-parent households are responsible for these problems. Some cultural icons urge women to work only part time or not at all so they can spend more time with their children. Some yearn wistfully for a return to the 1950s, when everything seemed so much easier and better. Children had what they needed back then: one parent to earn the money, and another parent to take care of them full time until they started kindergarten, when this parent would be there for them when they came home from school.
Families have indeed changed, but this yearning for the 1950s falls into what historian Stephanie Coontz (2000) once called the “nostalgia trap.” The 1950s television shows did depict what some families were like back then, but they failed to show what many other families were like. Moreover, the changes in families since that time have probably not had the harmful effects that many observers allege. Historical and cross-cultural evidence even suggests that the Leave It to Beaver–style family of the 1950s was a relatively recent and atypical phenomenon and that many other types of families can thrive just as well as the 1950s television families did.
This chapter expands on these points and looks at today’s families and the changes they have undergone. It also examines some of the controversies now surrounding families and relationships. We start with a cross-cultural and historical look at the family.
A defines family as a group of two or more people who are related by blood, marriage or adoption. While this definition still has some merit, many sociologists have moved toward a , which defines family as a group of two or more people who are mutually committed to one another and who care for one another. Family is universal or nearly universal: some form of family has existed in every society, or nearly every society, that we know about (Starbuck, 2010). Many different configurations of families have existed, and the cross-cultural and historical records indicate that the family institution serves society by providing practical and emotional support to members and by socializing children.
Types of Families and Family Arrangements
It is important to keep the above discussion in mind, because Americans until recently thought of only one type of family when they thought of families at all, and that is the : a married heterosexual couple and their young children living by themselves under one roof. The nuclear family is a family form that adapted to meet the demands of industrial societies with family-waged economies. Other types of family arrangements, for example, , which consisted of parents, their children, other relatives, and even non-kin, living under one roof (or compound) were quite common in the preindustrial societies (Murdock & White, 1969); and , or families that are comprised of stepparents and/or step-siblings. It is common to find a balance between nuclear and extended families in preindustrial societies.
Similarly, many one-parent families begin as (two-parent) nuclear families that reconfigure upon divorce/separation or, more rarely, the death of one of the parents. In recent decades, one-parent families have become more common in the United States because of divorce and births to unmarried women, but they were actually very common throughout most of human history because many spouses died early in life and because many babies were born out of wedlock. Although this is not to say that children whose parents do not reside in the same household, or are not married to one another, necessarily lose all contact with a parent. We will return to this theme shortly.
People in the United States typically equate marriage with , defined as being married to only one person at a time. In many countries and cultures around the world, however, having one spouse is not the only form of accepted marriage, even if it is the most common. , or being married to more than one person at a time, is accepted to varying degrees around the world, with most polygamous societies existing in northern Africa and east Asia (OECD 2019). Instances of polygamy are almost exclusively in the form of , or a man being married to more than one woman at the same time, rather than , or a woman being married to more than one man (Altman and Ginat 1996).
While the majority of societies accept polygamy, the majority of people do not practice it. Even in the regions where it is most common, only an average of 11 percent of the population lives in arrangements that include more than one spouse (Kramer 2020). In these relationships, the husbands are often older, wealthy, high-status men (Altman and Ginat 1996). The average plural marriage involves no more than three wives. Negev Bedouin men in Israel, for example, typically have two wives, although it is acceptable to have up to four (Griver 2008). As urbanization increases in these cultures, polygamy is likely to decrease as a result of greater access to mass media, technology, and education (Altman and Ginat 1996; Conerly, et. al., 2021).
In our own society, it is only culturally acceptable to be married to one spouse at a time though we may practice what is sometimes called , or marriage to a succession of spouses one after the other. This is reinforced by religious systems, and more importantly in U.S. society, by law. Plural marriages are not allowed; they are illegal although they do exist because they are encouraged under some religions or ideologies. In the United States, couples are legally allowed to divorce and remarry, but not all religious cultural groups support this practice (LibreTexts, 2021, CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 US).
Think Like a Sociologist
Teens from polygamous families along with over 200 supporters demonstrate at a pro-plural marriage rally in Salt Lake City in 2006. Streamline1989 at English Wikipedia – Public domain – Wikimedia Commons
In the United States, polygamy is illegal. A recent Gallup poll showed that 21 percent of people believe polygamy is morally acceptable, which is a major increase since earlier versions of the same poll (Kramer, 2020). But the poll also found that polygamy was among the least acceptable behaviors considered in the study; for example, polygamy was far less acceptable than consensual sex between teenagers, though it was more acceptable than a married person having an affair (Brenan 2020). The act of entering into marriage while still married to another person is referred to as and is considered a felony in most states (Conerly, et. al, 2021).
No nations in the western world (or the Americas, for that matter) have outright legalized polygamy, including The United Kingdom and Australia. However, while their immigration policies regarding immigrants in polygamous marriages are, indeed, complicated, both nations have amended their policies to recognize, to various extents, the polygamous marriages of immigrants whose home countries practice it legally.
Under the risk of arrest and imprisonment in most states, Americans do quietly practice plural marriages. In most cases, plural marriages are a function of religious faith. Even if fairly complex (as indicated by the Gallup poll mentioned above), our attitudes about polygamy seem to be loosening up. There’s even a popular TV reality show titled “Sister Wives,” currently in its 16th season, that chronicles the day-to-day lives of a U.S. polygamous family.
Our views of marriages and families have changed significantly in the fast few decades. Do you think we’re ready to legally accept polygamous marriages and families?
The selection of spouses also differs across societies but also to some degree within societies. The United States and many other societies primarily practice , in which marriage occurs within one’s own social category or social group: people marry others of the same race, same religion, same social class, and so forth. Endogamy helps reinforce the social status of the two people marrying and to pass it on to any children they may have. Consciously or not, people tend to select spouses and mates (boyfriends or girlfriends) who resemble them not only in race, social class, and other aspects of their social backgrounds. The tendency to choose and marry mates who are similar to us in all of these ways is called . One of the major variables that drives homogamy is —or social and spatial nearness.
Some societies and individuals within societies practice , in which marriage occurs across social categories or social groups. Historically exogamy has helped strengthen alliances among villages or even whole nations, but it can also lead to difficulties. Some of literature’s most well-known couples involve romances between people of very different backgrounds. As Shakespeare’s great tragedy Romeo and Juliet reminds us, however, sometimes exogamous romances and marriages can provoke hostility among friends and relatives of the couple and even among complete strangers.
Figure 12.2 Dates of Repeal of U.S. Anti-Miscegenation Laws by State
Certes – CC BY 3.0 – Wikimedia Commons
In the U.S., racial intermarriages, for example, are exogamous marriages, and in the United States they often continue to evoke strong feelings and were even illegal in many states until a 1967 Supreme Court decision (Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1) overturned laws prohibiting them, as shown in Figure 12.2 “Dates of Repeal of U.S. Anti-Miscegenation Laws by State,” above. With all that being said, sociologists generally define as a group’s approved mating arrangements.
When considering one’s lineage, most people in the United States look to both their father’s and mother’s sides. Both paternal and maternal ancestors and descendants are considered part of one’s family. This pattern of tracing kinship is called . Note that kinship, or one’s traceable ancestry, can be based on relationships through blood, marriage or adoption. Sixty percent of societies, mostly high and upper-middle income nations, follow a bilateral descent pattern. Figure 12.3 “Bilateral Descent Kinship Diagram” shows three generations, with the top line, the father and mother (A and B), the middle line their children (C, D and E) and their children’s spouses, and the third line their grandchildren. All are considered to be related to one another in a system of bilateral descent.
Figure 12.3 Bilateral Descent Kinship Diagram
(the tracing of kinship through one parent only) is practiced in the other forty percent of the world’s societies, with high concentration in pastoral cultures (O’Neal 2006). There are three types of unilateral descent: , which follows the father’s line only; , which follows the mother’s side only; and , which follows either the father’s side only or the mother’s side only, depending on the situation. In patrilineal societies, such as those in rural China and India, both male and female children belong to their father’s kin group, as shown on the left in Figure 12.4 “Patrilineal and Matrilineal Descent Kinship Diagrams,” where the people pictured in green are related to one another patrilineally. In a patrilineal system, only males carry on the family surname, which gives males the prestige of permanent family membership while females are seen as only temporary members (Harrell 2001). U.S. society assumes some aspects of patrilineal descent. For instance, most children assume their father’s last name even if the mother retains her birth name.
Figure 12.4 Patrilineal and Matrilineal Descent Kinship Diagrams
In matrilineal societies, pictured on the right in Figure 12.4 “Patrilineal and Matrilineal Descent Kinship Diagram,” where the people in red are related to one another matrilineally, inheritance and family ties are traced to women. Matrilineal descent is common in Native American societies, notably the Crow, Mohawk and Cherokee tribes. In these societies, children are seen as belonging to the women and, therefore, one’s kinship is traced to one’s mother, grandmother, great grandmother, and so on (Mails 1996). In ambilineal societies, which are most common in Southeast Asian and Oceanian countries, parents may choose to associate their children with the kinship of either the mother or the father. This choice may be based on the desire to follow stronger or more prestigious kinship lines or on cultural customs such as men following their father’s side and women following their mother’s side (Lambert 2009).
Every culture has ideas about where a newly married couple should live. In the United States and in Western Europe, it is usually expected that a new couple create a new domestic unit or household. Ideally, they should live together in a place separate from either of their : the families in which they were raised. They are expected to create a new : a new household for raising children. The goal of most couples is to eventually live separately from their original families so that they can focus on their new relationship and be independent. This kind of residence after marriage is called (new location). Increasingly, many couples establish a residence together before marriage or may skip the formal marriage altogether (LibreTexts, 2021, CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 US).
Tracing one’s line of descent to one parent rather than the other can be relevant to the issue of residence. In many cultures, newly married couples move in with, or near to, family members. In a residence system, it is customary for the wife to live with (or near) her husband’s blood relatives (or family of orientation). Patrilocal systems can be traced back thousands of years. In a DNA analysis of 4,600-year-old bones found in Germany, scientists found indicators of patrilocal living arrangements (Haak et al 2008). Patrilocal residence is thought to be disadvantageous to women because it makes them outsiders in the home and community; it also keeps them disconnected from their own blood relatives. In China, where patrilocal and patrilineal customs are common, the written symbols for maternal grandmother (wáipá) are separately translated to mean “outsider” and “women” (Cohen 2011).
Similarly, in residence systems, where it is customary for the husband to live with his wife’s blood relatives (or her family of orientation), the husband can feel disconnected and can be labeled as an outsider. The Minangkabau people, a matrilocal society that is indigenous to the highlands of West Sumatra in Indonesia, believe that home is the place of women, and they give men little power in issues relating to the home or family (Joseph and Najmabadi 2003). Most societies that use patrilocal and patrilineal systems are patriarchal, but very few societies that use matrilocal and matrilineal systems are matriarchal, as family life is often considered an important part of the culture for women, regardless of their power relative to men (Conerly, et. al., 2021).
Another way in which traditional heterosexual families differ is in their patterns of authority. In , adult men are the major authority figure in the family (just as in patriarchal societies men have power over women). Patriarchal families and societies have been very common. In , adult women are the family’s major authority figure. In , adult men and women share authority equally. Although this type of family has become more common in the United States and other postindustrial societies, patriarchal families are still more common globally.
Families Before Industrialization
Now that we are familiar with the basic types of family structures and patterns, let’s take a quick look at the cross-cultural and historical development of the family. We will start with families in preindustrial times, drawing on research by anthropologists and other scholars, and then move on to the development of families in postindustrial societies.
People in foraging societies probably lived in small groups composed of several nuclear families. These groupings helped ensure that enough food would be found for everyone to eat. While men tended to hunt and women tended to gather food and take care of the children, both sexes’ activities were considered fairly equally important for a family’s survival. In horticultural and pastoral societies, food was more abundant, and in the case of pastoral societies, families’ wealth depended on the size of their herds. Because men were more involved than women in herding, they acquired more authority in families, and families became more patriarchal than previously (Quale, 1992). Still, families continued to be the primary economic unit of society until industrialization.
Societies without Nuclear Families
Although many preindustrial societies featured nuclear families, a few societies studied by anthropologists have not had them. One of these was the Nayar in southwestern India, who lacked marriage and nuclear families. A woman would have several sexual partners during her lifetime, but any man with whom she had children had no responsibilities toward them. Despite the absence of a father, this type of family arrangement seems to have worked well for the Nayar people (Fuller, 1976). Nuclear families are also mostly absent among many people in the West Indies. When a woman and man have a child, the mother takes care of the child almost entirely; the father provides for the household but usually lives elsewhere. As with the Nayar, this family arrangement seems to have worked well in the parts of the West Indies where it is practiced (Smith, 1996).
Although nuclear families remain the norm in most societies, in practice they are something of a historical rarity: many spouses used to die by their mid-40s, and many babies were born out of wedlock. In medieval Europe, for example, people died early from disease, malnutrition, and other problems. One consequence of early mortality was that many children could expect to outlive at least one of their parents and thus essentially were raised in one-parent families or in stepfamilies (Gottlieb, 1993).
Families in the American Colonial Period
Moving quite a bit forward in history, different family types abounded in the colonial period in what later became the United States, and the nuclear family was by no means the only type. Nomadic Native American groups had relatively small nuclear families, while non nomadic groups had larger extended families; in either type of society, though, “a much larger network of marital alliances and kin obligations [meant that]… no single family was forced to go it alone” (Coontz, 1995, p. 11). Nuclear families among African Americans slaves were very difficult to achieve, and slaves adapted by developing extended families, adopting orphans, and taking in other people not related by blood or marriage. Many European parents of colonial children died because the average life expectancy was only 45 years. The one-third to one-half of children who outlived at least one of their parents lived in stepfamilies or with just their surviving parent. Mothers were so busy working the land and doing other tasks that they devoted relatively little time to childcare, which instead was entrusted to older children or servants.
American Families During and After Industrialization
During industrialization, people began to move into cities to be near factories. A new division of labor emerged in many families: largely, men worked in factories and elsewhere outside the home, while women stayed at home to take care of children and do housework, including the production of clothing, bread, and other necessities, for which they were paid nothing (Gottlieb, 1993). For this reason, men’s incomes increased their patriarchal hold over their families. In many families, however, women continued to work outside the home. Economic necessity dictated this: because families now had to buy much of their food and other products instead of producing them themselves, the standard of living actually declined for many families.
However, men out-earned women who worked outside the home because of discriminatory pay scales and brought more money into the family, again reinforcing their patriarchal control. Over time, moreover, work outside the home came to be seen primarily as men’s work and keeping house and raising children came to be seen primarily as women’s work. As Coontz (1997, pp. 55–56) summarizes this development,
“The resulting identification of masculinity with economic activities and femininity with nurturing care, now often seen as the “natural” way of organizing the nuclear family, was in fact a historical product of this 19th-century transition from an agricultural household economy to an industrial wage economy. “
This marital division of labor began to change during the early 20th century. Many women entered the workforce in the 1920s because of a growing number of office jobs, and the Great Depression of the 1930s led even more women to work outside the home. During the 1940s, a shortage of men in shipyards, factories, and other workplaces because of World War II led to a national call for women to join the labor force to support the war effort and the national economy. They did so in large numbers, and many continued to work after the war ended.
One of the most iconic images from WWII was Rosie the Riveter, which came from an ad campaign to recruit women into jobs in the defense industry during the war. During World War II, many women served in the military, and many other women joined the labor force to support the war effort and the national economy. PublicDomainPIctures – Pixabay
But as men came home from Europe and Japan, books, magazines, and newspapers exhorted women to have babies, and babies they did have. People got married at younger ages and the birth rate soared, resulting in the now famous baby boom generation. Meanwhile, divorce rates dropped. The national economy thrived as auto and other factory jobs multiplied, and many families for the first time could dream of owning their own homes. Suburbs sprang up, and many families –especially white middle-class families — moved to them. Many white, middle-class families during the 1950s did indeed fit the Leave It to Beaver model of the breadwinner-homemaker suburban nuclear family. Following the Depression of the 1930s and the war of the 1940s, the 1950s seemed an almost idyllic decade.
Even so, less than 60% of American children during the 1950s lived in breadwinner-homemaker nuclear families. Moreover, many lived in poverty, as the poverty rate then was almost twice as high as it is today. Teenage pregnancy rates were about twice as high as today, even if most pregnant teens were already married or decided to get married because of the pregnancy. Although not publicized back then, alcoholism and violence in families were common. Historians have found that many women in this era were unhappy with their homemaker roles, suffering from what Betty Friedan (1963) famously called the “feminine mystique.”
In the 1970s, the economy finally worsened. Home prices and college tuition soared much faster than family incomes, and women began to enter the labor force as much out of economic necessity as out of simple desire for fulfillment. More than 60% of married women with children under 6 years of age are now in the labor force, compared to less than 19% in 1960. Working mothers are no longer a rarity.
In sum, the cross-cultural and historical record shows that many types of families and family arrangements have existed. Two themes relevant to contemporary life emerge from our review of this record. First, although nuclear families and extended families with a nuclear core have dominated social life, many children throughout history have not lived in nuclear families because of the death of a parent, divorce or birth to unwed parents. The few societies that have not featured nuclear families have succeeded in socializing their children and in accomplishing the other functions that nuclear families serve. In the United States, the nuclear family has historically been the norm, but, again, many children have been raised in stepfamilies or by one parent.
Second, the nuclear family model popularized in the 1950s, in which the male was the breadwinner and the female the homemaker, must be considered a blip in U.S. history rather than a long-term model. At least up to the beginning of industrialization and, for many families, after industrialization, women as well as men worked to sustain families. Breadwinner-homemaker families did increase during the 1950s and have decreased since, but their appearance during that decade was more of a historical aberration than a historical norm. As Coontz (1995, p. 11) summarized the U.S. historical record, “American families always have been diverse, and the male breadwinner-female homemaker, nuclear ideal that most people associate with ‘the’ traditional family has predominated for only a small portion of our history.” Commenting specifically on the 1950s, sociologist Arlene Skolnick (1991, pp. 51–52) similarly observed, “Far from being the last era of family normality from which current trends are a deviation, it is the family patterns of the 1950s that are deviant.”
Think Like a Sociologist
Guy of taipei – CC BY-SA 3.0 – Wikimedia Commons
What is a family? The question of what constitutes a family is a prime area of debate in family sociology, as well as in politics and religion. People with socially conservative ideas tend to define the family in terms of structure with each family member filling a certain role (like father, mother, or child). Most sociologists, on the other hand, tend to define family more in terms of the manner in which members relate to one another than on a strict configuration of status roles (Griffiths, et. al., 2015).
A husband, a wife, and their children—maybe even a pet—has served as the model for the traditional U.S. family for most of the twentieth century, but what about families that really don’t fit into this model, such as children living with a single-parent or a married same sex couple without children?
Should they be considered families as well? Why or why not?
Section 12.1 References
Altman, I. and J. Ginat. (1996). Polygamous Families in Contemporary Society. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Brenan, M. (2021). Record-low 54% in U.S. say death penalty morally acceptable. Gallup.com. Retrieved from https://news.gallup.com/poll/312929/record-low-say-death-penalty-morally-acceptable.aspx.
Cohen, P. (2011). Chinese: Maternal Grandmothers, Outside Women. FamilyInequality.com. Retrieved from http://familyinequality.wordpress.com/2011/11/16/chinese-maternal-grandmothers- outside-women/.
Coontz, S. (2000). The way we never were: American families and the nostalgia trap. New York, NY: Basic Books.
Coontz, S. (1997). The way we really are: Coming to terms with America’s changing families. New York, NY: Basic Books.
Coontz, S. (1995, Summer). The way we weren’t: The myth and reality of the “traditional” family. National Forum: The Phi Kappa Phi Journal, 11–14.
Friedan, B. (1963). The feminine Mystique. New York, NY: W. W. Norton.
Fuller, C. J. (1976). The Nayars today. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
Gottlieb, B. (1993). The family in the Western world from the Black Death to the industrial age. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Griver, S. (2008, April 24). One Wife Isn’t Enough … So They Take Two or Three. The Jewish Chronicle Online. Retrieved from http://www.thejc.com/lifestyle/lifestyle-features/one-wife-isn’t-enough-so- they-take-two-or-three.
Harrell, S. (2001). Mountain Patterns: The Survival of Nuosu Culture in China. Journal of American Folklore, 114, 451.
Joseph, S. and A. Najmabadi. (2003). Kinship and State: Southeast Asia, East Asia, Australia and the Pacific. Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures: Family, Law, and Politics. Leiden, Pp. 351–355. The Netherlands: Brill Academic Publishers.
Kramer, S. (2020, December 20). Polygamy is Rare around the world and confined to a few regions. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/12/07/polygamy-is-rare-around- the-world-and-mostly-confined-to-a-few-regions/.
Lambert, B. (2009). Ambilineal Descent Groups in the Northern Gilbert Islands. American Anthropologist, 68(3), 641–664.
Murdock, G. P. and D. R. White. (1969). Standard cross-cultural sample. Ethnology, 8, 329–369.
OECD. (2019, January). Maps and Facts: Polygamy Remains Common and Mostly Legal in West Africa. No. 77. Retrieved from http://www.oecd.org/swac/maps/77-polygamy-remains%20common-West-Africa.pdf.
O’Neal, D. (2006). Nature of Kinship. Palomar College. Retrieved from http://anthro.palomar.edu/kinship/kinship_2.htm.
Powell, B. (2014). Changing Counts, Counting Change: Toward a More Inclusive Definition of Family. Journal of the Indiana Academy of the Social Sciences, 17(1), Article 2. Retrieved from https://digitalcommons.butler.edu/jiass/vol17/iss1/2.
Quale, G. R. (1992). Families in context: A world history of population. New York, NY: Greenwood Press.
Skolnick, A. (1991). Embattled paradise: The American family in an age of uncertainty. New York, NY: Basic Books.
Smith, R. T. (1996). The matrifocal family: Power, pluralism and politics. New York, NY: Routledge.
Starbuck, G. H. (2010). Families in context (2nd ed.). Boulder, CO: Paradigm. New York, NY: Basic Books.
CC licensed content, Shared previously and Adapted
Barr, Scott, Sarah Hoiland, Shailaja Menon, Cathay Matresse, Florencia Silverira and Rebecca Vonderhaar. (n.d.). Introduction to Sociology. Introduction to Sociology | Simple Book Production. Lumen Learning. License: CC BY 4.0. License Terms: Access for free at https://courses.lumenlearning.com/wm-introductiontosociology/.
Conerly, Tonja, Kathleen Holmes, Asha Lal Tamang, Jennifer Hensley, Jennifer L. Trost, Pamela Alcasey, Kate McGonigal, Heather Griffiths, Nathan Keirns, Eric Strayer, Tommy Sadler, Susan Cody-Rydzewski, Gail Scaramuzzo, Sally Vyain, Jeff Bry and Faye Jones. (2021). Introduction to Sociology 3E. OpenStax. Houston, TX. License: CC BY 4.0. License Terms: Access for free at https://openstax.org/books/introduction-sociology-3e/pages/1-introduction.
Griffiths, Heather, Nathan Keirns, Eric Stayer, Susan Cody-Rydzewski, Gail Scaramuzzo, Tommy Sadler, Sally Vyain, Jeff Bry and Faye Jones. (2015). Introduction to Sociology 2E. OpenStax. Houston, TX. License: CC BY 4.0. License Terms: Access for free at https://openstax.org/books/introduction-sociology-2e/pages/1-introduction-to-sociology.
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a group of two or more people who are related by blood, marriage or adoption
a group of two or more people who are mutually committed to one another and who care for one another
a married couple and their young children living by themselves under one roof
consist of parents, their children, and other relatives
families that are comprised of step-parents and/or step-siblings
a marriage in which only two spouses exist
the marriage of one person to two or more people at a time
one man who is married to more than one woman at the same time
one woman who is married to more than one man at the same time
to move from one intimate relationship to another in a sequence
the act of entering into marriage while still married to another person
marriage which occurs within one’s own social category or social group
when people who are similar in social characteristics get married
social and spatial nearness; the variable that mostly drives homogamy
marriage which occurs across social categories or social groups
a group’s approved mating arrangements
a system of descent in which both paternal and maternal ancestors and descendants are considered part of one’s family
the tracing of kinship through one parent only
families in which children are thought to be related only to their father’s relatives, and wealth is passed down only to sons
families in which children are thought to be related only to their mother’s relatives, and wealth is passed down only to daughters
a system of descent which follows either the father’s side only or the mother’s side only, depending on the situation
the families in which we are raised
a new household for raising children
a new residence formed by a couple who live separately from their original families
a residence system where it is customary for the wife to live with (or near) her husband’s blood relatives (or family of orientation)
a residence system where it is customary for the husband to live with (or near) his wife's blood relatives (or family of orientation)
families in which fathers are the major authority figure in the family
families in which mothers are the family’s major authority figure
families in which fathers and mothers share authority equally