What Is A Family? Essay

1158 Words Sep 26th, 2016 5 Pages
What is a family? This question has been raised throughout history, and the answer is different depending on who is asked. The definition offered in the Merriam-Webster online dictionary is “a group of people who are related to each other.” (“Family”) Openstax College textbook Introduction to Sociology defines family as “a socially recognized group (usually joined by blood, marriage, or adoption) that forms an emotional connection and serves as an economic unit of society.” For census purposes, a family is defined as “...a householder and one or more other people living in the same household who are related to the householder by birth, marriage, or adoption.” This definition seems to refer to the nuclear family—a dad, mom, and offspring—a purportedly ideal arrangement traditionalists tout as beneficial to both society and children. However, it is a definition that no longer suits modern American culture, as it deprecates alternative family structures, ignores cultural and class differences, and leads to narrow policy decisions. Families are an institution as old as civilization itself, periodically adapting form to suit the times. The nuclear family in its current form did not truly gain momentum until the 1950s. In “What We Really Miss About the 1950s”, author Stephanie Coontz explains that this structure was fairly new, experimental, and closely tied to the financial prosperity of the times. Following World War II, a large percentage of returning soldiers received…

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