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Extended Families

Extended Family Kinship, Study Of The Extended Family


All societies have a concept of extended family. Its relative importance, structure, and functions, however, vary according to the particular culture. Traditionally, the term extended family has been applied to the kinship network of social and economic ties composed of the nuclear family (parents and children) plus other, less immediate, relatives. Study of the extended family unites two independent concepts: the household and kinship ties. The former refers to co-residence, whereas the latter implies relationship. When extended families share a common household, those most likely to be residents are the household heads' brothers and sisters, grandparents and grandchildren, and depending on the society, aunts and uncles. The social and economic importance of extended family can most readily be seen when family members are living together; however, this does not discount the importance of kinship ties. Even in societies where extended families do not reside together and nuclear family households predominate, the nuclear family may rely on extended kin to assist with basic day-to-day activities such as child or elder care and may be emotionally and economically codependent on family members outside the household.

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Marriage and Family EncyclopediaFamily Theory & Types of Families