The late twentieth century has seen an increase in the research related to ethnicity, culture, custom, and tradition. According to research, the definition of family, ethnicity, and culture varies from one ethnic group and country to another. For example, for many Africans, the definition of family suggests the importance of extended family and community. The Chinese culture includes ancestors and descendents in their definition of family.
Research has also alluded to cultural differences in such aspects as gender roles, religion or spirituality, education, and celebrations. Studying family and ethnicity helps one appreciate differences in groups' attitudes and behaviors. As a result of these differences, it is imperative that one develop a sufficient level of cultural competency, a process of continuous learning that leads to an ability to effectively respond to the challenges and opportunities posed by the presence of social cultural diversity in a defined social system.
Finally, research related to the diversity of family form, structure, and obligations underscores the significance of a flexible social system with fluid boundaries—so that individuals are able to define themselves by their groupings that relate to their heritages and practices and go beyond labels such as minority, Africans, or Latinos.
See also: AFRICAN-AMERICAN FAMILIES; ASIAN-AMERICAN FAMILIES; CARIBBEAN FAMILIES; CHINA; FICTIVE KINSHIP; HISPANIC-AMERICAN FAMILIES; INDONESIA; INTERGENERATIONAL TRANSMISSION; IRAN; ISLAM; JAPAN; KOREA; LATIN AMERICA; MEXICO; VIETNAM
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