Family

Family figures prominently in literature and science as the primary shaping influence on the next generation. In modern western Europe, the term generally refers to the nuclear family, consisting of a father, mother, and one or more children. While most cultures acknowledge the family as the core unit of society, deep-rooted notions of family vary across the globe. In the global South, Afrocentric and Indigenous communities usually invoke a wider concept of family, one that includes grandparents, uncles, aunts, and their progeny, with extensive practices of fostering and adoption taking care of orphaned children within extended families (Mazzucato and Schans 2011).

Family, however, remains a contested concept: the winnowing of extended family to nuclear family is a relatively recent semantic development. As its origins indicate, the word included a much larger group, including “household, household servants, troop (of gladiators) . . . group of persons connected by blood or

This essay may be found on page 74 of the printed volume.

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