It was the American anthropologist Lewis Morgan (1818-1881) who first stressed the influence of society on the form and structure of the family. According to him, the family is never stationary, but moves from a lower form to a higher form as society develops as a consequence of technical and economic progress (Morgan, 1971).
It seems an easy question, one of those that everyone could answer accurately, however, as often happens with the simplest things, its apparent simplicity hides a great complexity. An explanation of the reason for this particularity is offered by Robert Rowland when he points out: «it is a commonplace of the social sciences that the study of institutions and of the aspects of social life that are at the basis of our own vision of the world is the most difficult of all, because in these cases our categories start from the very reality that we are trying to represent in them. The study of the family is no exception» (Rowland, 1993, p. 31).
Defining it is not a simple task, especially if we take into account that there is no univocal concept of family. In other words, throughout history there has been a certain diversity of human families and different factors have influenced their structure and evolution. At present, for example, we are facing a society that – as never before – tries to be more inclusive and respectful of differences, therefore, the alternatives that outline the new family forms are also greater.
The reality called family is projected in all orders of human life, which is why it is considered from all specialized points of view. Sociologists, ethnologists, anthropologists, psychologists, pedagogues, psychiatrists, historians, jurists, demographers, and many other specialists will see the family from a different point of view and will approach its problems equally from different perspectives and with different purposes. This explains why all the social sciences can and should say something about it, but, at the same time, none of them covers it completely. It is necessary to learn from all of them about this institution, which is broad and complex.
I invite you to read Matias’ post with the topic of the day
Finally, I encourage everyone to reflect on the concept of the day. No one else but us can re-signify our own being