Nuclear family

Nuclear family is a type of family that is conceived as the opposite of extended family. In this case (extended family), in addition to the relatives of the nuclear family, more relatives are included.

The family has been represented as a vital provider of love and protection in the industrialized world, where the woman represents the loving, caring and understanding mother, and the man as a father who gives protection.

The idea of ​​family protection has been declining because civil society increasingly hides its conflicts. The family structure of earlier times was more stable and happy, there were few divorces. Today very few societies show an attachment to that type of family.

Nuclear family characteristics

  • The term nuclear family is from 1947 , it is a new concept beyond that the social structure it encompasses is not new.
  • This shift from extended family structures to nuclear families has to do with the promotion, expansion and reproduction of the values ​​of Western culture throughout the world, including in the East .
  • Because its members live on the same roof.
  • There is economic cooperation in both parents, including the children when they begin to generate money for themselves.
  • It is the most prevalent type of family in the world.
  • Breeding activities are carried out .
  • It is the type that society usually recognizes.

The group formed by two adults who joined through marriage or by common law and who have not yet had children is also considered a nuclear family.

Changes in the formation of the nuclear family

Anthropology and sociology study families and their conformation, trying to define the differences between the types of them. However, while anthropology has historically been more receptive to the analysis of all existing types of family, sociology seldom views the nuclear family as a structure. Bittman wonders why sociologists promote the idea of ​​the nuclear family when very few socities show an attachment to that type of family.

The descent of the nuclear family is originated, according to the hypothesis of Bittman himself:

  • The relative increase in the average age at marriage in industrialized societies.
  • The fall in the fertility rate and the delay in the first births in new couples.
  • The historical pattern of unstable fertility: it goes from a boom to a depression, depending on other socio-economic and cultural factors.
  • The aging of the population and the tendency to increase life expectancy.
  • The increase in the divorce rate and in people who do not want to marry.

Despite this, in countries like the United States , the nuclear family appears as the most widespread structure compared to other alternatives. In that country, nuclear families represent 73% of households with children, according to the 2000 census .


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