Defining family

Essay by misshellkittyUniversity, Bachelor'sA-, September 2004

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In Canada the definition of family is as diverse as the ethnic, racial and religious make up of the country. Webster's dictionary (1994) defines family as: 1. a fundamental social group in society typically consisting of one or two parents and their children, a: two or more people who share goals and values, have long-term commitments to one another, and reside usually in the same dwelling place. 2: all the members of a household under one roof. 3: a group of persons sharing common ancestry. Lineage, especially distinguished lineage. 4: a locally independent organized crime unit, as of the Cosa Nostra. 5: a) a group of like things; a class. b) a group of individuals derived from a common stock: the family of human beings. What is the definition of a Canadian family?

There is no simple answer to this question. The definition is variable and determined externally by societal changes over time.

In this brief essay there will be a discussion about the problems associated with defining a family in Canada. In addition, examples from different cultural backgrounds will be used in an attempt to illustrate the complex nature of the family.

As stated by Baker (2001) the way we define our own family doesn't necessarily generalize well to other families. How we behave, express values, and morals are very culturally dependent. To access others cultures through our own "culture colored" glasses is not only subjective but also judgmental. The family is probably one of the most ancient institutions around, yet it is still open to influences of changes that occur over time.

Defining the family 3

Baker (2001) claims that theses changes to society have led to the development of public discourse about family behavior norms.

What is "family"? The definition of family depends on who answers the...