Family And Household Structure

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The field of anthropology have always put it efforts in trying to make use understand the nature of family and household structure. However, the way definition of family has been hotly contested because of its significant consequences in people’s way of living. Family is merely known as a universal social institution, while on the other hand anthropologists defined it as a social group that has common residents, economic cooperation and reproduction.
Anthropologists believed that a family must have these characteristics, blood relations and affinal relationships and that where these criteria don’t exist the group of people may not be considered a family. With this notion at hand, the question that may arise is that of, should single-parent
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According to Murdock, a family must reside in one roof, bring economic cooperation and also ensure management of child rearing. While Fortes characterized a household as a group of individuals who are keepers of the house who are organised to provide material and cultural resources needed to maintain and bring up its members.
In the case of Murdock males are the heads and have a word on economic cooperation while women took care of the children and their man. Fortes description of household also gave man power in providing material and cultural resources. These definitions of family and household according Murdock and Fortes is based on a cultural sense which has always dignify patriarchy. Furthermore, something else that has been evident is that sex was another aspect used to define family.
Currently anthropologists have made contributions to help us understand exactly the concept of family and household. But this time with the change of era, laws and other societal complexities it has become more difficult to give these terms a fixed definition.
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According to Mogotlane a child headed household is where there is an absence of adults a child or youth has assumed the role of a primary caregiver in respect of another child or other children in the household by providing the basic needs such as food, clothing and psychological support.
This explains to us that what has not been taken to account in the previous definition is the face of families that are structure with the absence of parents. Sometimes you find that parents are too sick to take care of the family which often requires the elder child to be the head of the house. In this case of a family structure children are the ones who take the role of leadership, caregiver and social support in the absence of parents. This tells us the concept ‘family’ can be understood as ties of common understanding leadership and major decision making.
Mogotlane also noted that households are usually complex and not all of the time made up of siblings from same families. With this notion it can be said that currently what makes family and household cannot only be determined by blood ties and affinal relations but networks and social support.
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