Changing Definitions of Families

Polygynous or Polyandrous Family, Definition(s) of

“Families may be polygynous or polyandrous...that is, consist of a man or woman with more than one spouse and corresponding sets of children, though often each co-spouse may form a separate household with his or, more often, her children” (Parkin, 1997, p. 29).

Glossary Source: 

Parkin, R. (1997). Kinship: An introduction to basic concepts. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.

Family of Orientation and Family of Procreation, Definition(s) of

“One can also distinguish one’s natal family or family of orientation, the family into which one is born, from one’s family of procreation, the family one creates through, and following, one’s marriage” (Parkin, 1997, p. 30).

Glossary Source: 

Parkin, R. (1997). Kinship: An introduction to basic concepts. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.

Traditional Family, Definition(s) of

“The concept of the traditional family, that is, the ‘natural reproductive unit’ of mom, pop, and the children all living under one roof, is not an immutable one.  It is a social construct that varies from culture to culture and, over time, the definition changes within a culture” (Ball, 2002, p. 68).

Glossary Source: 

Ball, H. (2002). The supreme court in the intimate lives of Americans: Birth, sex, marriage, childrearing, and death. New York, NY: New York University Press.

Standard North American family, Definition(s) of

“It is a conception of the family as a legally married couple sharing a household. The adult male is in paid employment; his earnings provide the economic basis of the family-household. The adult female may also earn an income, but her primary responsibility is to the care of the husband, household, and children.  Adult male and female may be parents (in whatever legal sense) of children also resident in the household” (Smith, 1993, p. 52).

Glossary Source: 

Smith, D.E.  (1993). The standard North American family: SNAF as an ideological code.  Journal of Family Issues, 14(1), 50-65.

Beanpole Family, Definition(s) of

"Long and thin in form as older generations live longer and affinal ties are weakened by divorce in the middle and younger generations" (Brannen & Nilsen).

"Vertical relationships within families have become more important especially in recent years in Britain, due both to increased possibilities and to greater necessity" (Brannen, Moss, & Mooney 2004).

Glossary Source: 

As defined by Brannen & Nilsen citing Bengston in Adulthood: Changing Concepts and Definitions entry. 

Brannen, J., Moss, P., & Mooney, A. (2004). Working and caring in the twentieth century: Change and continuity in our generation families. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

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