Are families having to change their structures in order to stay together? History Homework help

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A social anthropologist studies what brings groups
together and what keeps them together. Are families having to change their
structures in order to stay together?

Based on the information in this lesson,
highlight the changes in the American family from 1990 to 2000. Include the
issue of grandparents serving as caregivers for their grandchildren as well as
your prediction of what family structures will be like in the future.


A social
anthropologist would be interested in the social relationships within human
groups living in American households. These groups form families, one of the
five social institutions. Social anthropologists study what brings these groups
together and what keeps them together, which is the focus of this lesson.

Function of a Family

Throughout history, the family has been an important part of the survival of
societies and civilizations by providing shelter, food, and emotional support
for members. Families have also been responsible for the upbringing and
socialization of children in a society.

The first group a person encounters at birth is the family. The family is
considered to be the primary
social institution and is an important part of everyone’s life. Family is one
of the social institutions developed over a long period of time to ensure the
survival of the group. Other social institutions include government, education,
economics, and religion.

a father and mother are the primary caregivers in a family. They care for their
child from the moment the child is born. Human children are more helpless when
they are born than most other animal counterparts. Children rely on their
parents for their first needs, like protection, security, and food.

Parents are the primary instructors in the process of socialization, also known as enculturation. Remember that socialization
is the process of teaching and learning a society’s norms. In this regard,
families are closely tied to the social institution of the political system.


A nuclear family
can be described as a father and mother living together with their biological
or adopted children. Maternal
refers to the mother in a family, and paternal refers to the father in a
family. The paternal grandparents
in a family would be the parents of the father.

An extended family can be the grandparents,
uncles, aunts, and cousins of the nuclear family. Many people live with members
of their extended families at some point in their lives. It was once much more
common for extended families to live together. Parents often relied on their
children and other relatives to take care of them as they grew older.

the past, families often had to live close to each other because they ran
businesses or farms as a group. The collective labor force was required to
complete all the duties and responsibilities needed by a family business.

In addition, the sizes of families could be much larger than they are today,
and living in close proximity allowed for related family units to help one
another. The government did not provide as much assistance to elderly people as
it does now, and the younger generation carried the full responsibility for
their parents’ care.


Kinship refers to the relationship of people based on marriage or blood.
Kinship is the basis for the organization of people into the social groups of
clans, tribes, and families. Kinship also defines the roles and status of
members of the group or society.

Read the following information in which the federal government describes
families and households for the purposes of the U.S. Census.

Living Arrangements


 “Living arrangements refer to residency
in households or in group quarters. A ‘household’ comprises all persons, who
occupy a ‘housing unit’; that is, a house, an apartment or other group of
rooms, or a single room that constitutes ‘separate living quarters.’ “

“A household includes the related family members and all the unrelated
persons, if any, such as lodgers, foster children, wards, or employees who
share the housing unit.  A person living alone or a group of unrelated
persons sharing the same housing unit is also counted as a household.”

“In other words, a household is a group of
people living together in some type of unit such as an apartment building or

U.S. Census Bureau. “Statistical Abstract of the United States, 2004-2005.”


“The householder is the person in whose name the home is owned or rented. If a
home is owned or rented jointly by a married couple, either the husband or the
wife may be listed first. Prior to 1980, the husband was always considered the
householder in married-couple households.”


“The term family refers to a group of two or
more persons related by birth, marriage, or adoption and residing together in a
household. A family includes the householder among its members.”

U.S. Census Bureau. “Statistical Abstract of the United States, 2004-2005.”


“A subfamily consists of a married couple and their children, if any, or one
parent with one or more never-married children under 18 years old living in a
household. Subfamilies are divided into ‘related’ and ‘unrelated’ subfamilies.
A related subfamily is related to, but does not include, the householder.
Members of a related subfamily are also members of the family with whom they
live. The number of related subfamilies, therefore, is not included in the count
of families. An unrelated subfamily may include persons such as guests,
lodgers, or resident employees and their spouses and/or children; none of whom
is related to the householder. The related subfamily members are the same as an
extended family.”

U.S. Census Bureau. “Statistical Abstract of the United States, 2004-2005.”

Now read three Census Briefs, produced by the
U.S. Census Bureau.  These documents will provide useful information that
you can use in your Graded Assignment.

Begin by reading  the Census 2000 Brief,
Marital Status: 2000.

As you read, focus on these key points:

  • terms that describe the marital
    status of individuals
  • marital status by geographical
  • marital status by race
  • changes in marital status from
    1990 to 2000

Next, read Grandparents Living with Grandchildren: 2000 and
focus on these key points:

  • the number and age groups of
    grandparents who are living with their grandchildren
  • the number and age groups of
    grandparents who are living with and serving as caregivers for their
  • geographical distribution of
    grandparents living with their grandchildren

As you read Households and Families: 2000, focus on these
key points:

  • definition and description of
    households and types of families
  • the geographical distribution
    of households and families
  • changes in households and
    families from 1990 to 2000

The U.S. Census
Bureau surveys and examines American households. A social anthropologist is
interested in social relationships within human groups, such as the people
living in American households. Social anthropologists study what brings these
groups together and what keeps them together.

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