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Definition Of Family

The term family refers to a particular social group whose members are related by blood or marriage at different levels or in different forms or combinations. Each member's role and status within the institution of the family is determined by his or her corresponding position in the family. The forms of family that prevail in Greece refer mainly to the distinction between the conjugal and the extended family. The conjugal family includes the husband and wife and their children. The extended family includes the conjugal family as well as ascendants of the husband and/or wife. Families are further distinguished in complete conjugal and incomplete conjugal families (e.g., one-parent families) and in A Greek Orthodox wedding in Cyprus. Musicians lead the wedding party back to the couple's new house for a reception. Similar to trends in other developed countries, marriages and childbirth generally occur later than they did for previous generations. JONATHAN BLAIR/CORBIS extended complete or incomplete families (e.g., one grandparent).

The definition of the family is often confused with other terms—for example, household. The National Statistical Service of Greece considers all people who live under the same roof to be members of the family, regardless of whether they are related.

In Greece, family life and the position of children have changed substantially with the evolution of the traditional rural-agricultural life into an urban industrial-modern system (Moussourou 1994). Anthropological research on Greek rural life suggests that the importance of the Greek family was reflected in the significance attached to the role of the mother. Although the man acted as the family's outside representative, enjoying the social prestige and esteem that this role entailed, the woman was the organizer of the household, the mediator in family disputes, and the guardian of the family's cohesiveness. The family's image rested in large measure on the woman's ability to carry out her household duties properly (Kyriazis 1995).

The most important characteristic of the family in contemporary society is its fluidity, produced by a combination of three interrelated factors: a) the variety of socially acceptable family patterns according to which one may organize one's private life; b) the possibility of individuals choosing the way in which they wish to organize their private lives; and c) the increased possibility of an individual choosing different, successive patterns during his or her lifetime (Moussourou 1994).

If grandparents who live near their married children are added to families of three generations, the total percentage of daily contacts between the three generations increases. Exchange and assistance between the two adult generations and the young on the one hand, and influence of the elder relatives on the other, are common patterns (Teperoglou 1994).

Additional topics

Marriage and Family EncyclopediaMarriage: Cultural AspectsGreece - Demographic Trends, Definition Of Family, Role Of The Child, The Elderly And The Family