Domestic Groups

Main Question: How are domestic groups formed? What are the four major types of marriage residence? How are marriages dissolved?

Introductory Terms | References

20.3 MB     00:12:45   shot in 1986

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Introductory Terms

Domestic Group: "A group of people who habitually share a common dwelling and a common food supply" (Smith); thus, equivalent to "household"
Nuclear Family: "The association of a married couple with their young children… it is frequently a discrete residential and economic unit with its own dwelling and its own property. It is formed when the first child arrives. If the children grow up and leave to found families… its numbers decline and it disappears with the death of the parents" (Barnes)
Elementary Family: "A unit consisting of a man and his wife and all their children, whether young or old, living at home or outside it, married or unmarried" (Barnes)
Universality of Nuclear Family: "The nuclear family is a universal human social grouping. Either as the sole prevailing form of the family or as the basic unit from which more complex familial forms are compounded, it exists as a distinct and strongly functional group in every society" (Murdock)
Also: "The conjugal family limited to mother and children is practically universal since it is based on the physiological dependency which exists between them at least for a certain time, and… the conjugal family consisting of husband, wife and children is almost as frequent of psychological and economic reasons…" (Levi-Strauss)
Orientation, Family of: Elementary family into which ego is born (natal)
Procreation, Family of: Elementary family which ego creates by procreating/marrying (conjugal)
Compound Family: "A unit consisting of three or more spouses and their children; it may be produced in monogamous societies by a second marriage giving rise to step-relationships"
Joint/Extended Family: "A group may be described as a joint family when two or more lineally related kinsfolk of the same sex, their spouses and offspring, occupy a single homestead and are jointly subject to the same authority or single head. The term extended family should be used from the dispersed form corresponding to a joint family" (Notes & Queries)
Stem Family: Two nuclear families living together, of different generations’ linked by an individual who is father in one and son in the other (or mo./da/)
Joint Family: Two (or more) nuclear families living together, of same generation, linked by sibling bonds
Virilocal: Literally, place of the husband; better than "patrilocal" since it show that a couple lives with the husband’s lineage rather than with the father
Uxorilocal: Literally, place of the wife; better than "matrilocal" since it show that a couple lives with the wife’s lineage rather than with the mother
Neolocal: The couple establish an independent residence, away from either male or female’s lineage
Avunculocal: Literally, place of an uncle; "a norm in which unmarried males leave their paternal homes to reside with a Mo.Bro.; upon marriage their wives are brought into the household" (Schusky)
Ambilocal: Choice open as to virilocal or uxorilocal residence
Intimate Kin: "Social contact is purposeful, close and frequent" (Firth)
Peripheral: "Contacts are… distant, accidental, or sporadic" (Firth)
Joking Relationship: "Patterned behaviour between relatives that calls for mild to taunting or ribald joking" (Schusky)


Adams, B. N. "The Social Significance of Kinship" extract in Anderson, M., Ch10, (eds) Sociology of the Family, Penguin
Bott, E., Family and Social Network
Chagnon, N., Yanomamo, The Fierce People
Fortes, M., "Time and Social Structure", in Fortes, M., Social Structure, and reprinted in Fortes, M., Ch.1, Time and Social Structure
Keesing, R., Ch.8, Kin Groups and Social Structure