Social Institutions of the Family(Notes)

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Topics: Family
The Social institution of the family
There are various types of Caribbean family forms. The emergence of the different types was largely due to historical influences that shape Caribbean civilization. Caribbean society has grown into a cosmopolitan mixture of different races and ethnic groups that construct their reality in the Caribbean. This mixture has resulted in a unique social system; plural, polarized, politicised, problematic, but still some what plantation society. This has impacted the type of family units that emerged in the region. The roles expectations by Caribbean society of mother and father coupled with the different socialization of boys and girls have influenced the many structural ways in which families are built and maintained in the Caribbean. This also affects issues related to gender construction in the family. The ever increasing proportion of matrifocal and common law unions are products of history as well as other social trends that are both local and international in scope.
Family forms in the Caribbean
A family can be defined as a social unit of common residence involving two adults who are in a sexual relationship. Children of either of the adults, from both, or who have been adopted also form part of this family unit. The most popular family forms in the Caribbean are: • The family based on common-law union (consensual cohabitation) • The nuclear family • The family based on a visiting union (extra-residential) • The matrifocal family • The extended family • The East Indian family
Other family types are sibling families due largely to migration of parents, and grandparent-headed families. What are the reasons for the existence of the various family forms in the region? Some theorists such as Melville Herskovits (1958) attribute the prevalence of certain types of Caribbean family forms to African society and some of the social institutions and social dynamics of those societies.
The nuclear family

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