Not to be confused with qualitative data.
For the journal, see Qualitative Research (journal).
Qualitative research is a method of inquiry employed in many different academic disciplines, including in the social sciences and natural sciences, but also in non-academic contexts including market research, business, and service demonstrations by non-profits.
Qualitative research is a broad methodological approach that encompasses many research methods. The aim of qualitative research may vary with the disciplinary background, such as a psychologist seeking to gather an in-depth understanding of human behavior and the reasons that govern such behavior. Qualitative methods examine the why and how of decision making, not just what, where, when, or "who", and have a strong basis in the field of sociology to understand government and social programs. Qualitative research is popular among political science, social work, and special education and education researchers.
In the conventional view of statisticians, qualitative methods produce information only on the particular cases studied (e.g., ethnographies paid for by governmental funds which may involve research teams), and any more general conclusions are considered propositions (informed assertions).Quantitative methods can then be used to seek empirical support for such research hypotheses.
In contrast, a qualitative researcher holds that understanding of a phenomenon or situation or event comes from exploring the totality of the situation (e.g., phenomenology, symbolic interactionism), often with access to large amounts of "hard data". It may begin as a grounded theory approach with the researcher having no previous understanding of the phenomenon; or the study may commence with propositions and proceed in a scientific and empirical way throughout the research process (e.g., Bogdan & Taylor, 1990).
A popular method of qualitative research is the case study (e.g., Stake, 1995)  or (Yin, 1989) which examines in depth "purposive samples" to better understand a phenomenon (e.g., support to families; Racino, 1999); hence, smaller but focused samples are more often used than large samples which may also be conducted by the same or related researchers or research centers (e.g., Braddock, et al., 1995).
Qualitative methods are an integral component of the five angles of analysis fostered by the data percolation methodology, which also includes quantitative methods, reviews of the literature (including scholarly), interviews with experts and computer simulation, and which forms an extension of data triangulation.
To help navigate the heterogeneous landscape of qualitative research, one can further think of qualitative inquiry in terms of 'means' and 'orientation' (Pernecky, 2016).
Robert Bogdan in his advanced courses on qualitative research traces the history of the development of the fields, and their particular relevance to disability and including the work of his colleague Robert Edgerton and a founder of participant observation, Howard S. Becker. As Robert Bogdan and Sari Biklen describe in their education text, "historians of qualitative research have never, for instance, included Freud or Piaget as developers of the qualitative approach, yet both relied on case studies, observations and indepth interviewing".
In the early 1900s, some researchers rejected positivism, the theoretical idea that there is an objective world which we can gather data from and "verify" this data through empiricism. These researchers embraced a qualitative research paradigm, attempting to make qualitative research as "rigorous" as quantitative research and creating myriad methods for qualitative research. Of course, such developments were necessary as qualitative researchers won national center awards, in collaboration with their research colleagues at other universities and departments; and university administrations funded Ph.D.s in both arenas through the ensuing decades. Most theoretical constructs involve a process of qualitative analysis and understanding, and construction of these concepts (e.g., Wolfensberger's social role valorization theories).
In the 1970s and 1980s, the increasing ubiquity of computers aided in qualitative analyses, several journals with a qualitative focus emerged, and postpositivism gained recognition in the academy. In the late 1980s, questions of identity emerged, including issues of race, class, gender, and discourse communities, leading to research and writing becoming more reflexive. Throughout the 1990s, the concept of a passive observer/researcher was rejected, and qualitative research became more participatory and activist-oriented with support from the federal branches, such as the National Institute on Disability Research and Rehabilitation (NIDRR) of the US Department of Education (e.g., Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers for Family and Community Living, 1990). Also, during this time, researchers began to use mixed-method approaches, indicating a shift in thinking of qualitative and quantitative methods as intrinsically incompatible. However, this history is not apolitical, as this has ushered in a politics of "evidence" (e.g., evidence-based practices in health and human services) and what can count as "scientific" research in scholarship, a current, ongoing debate in the academy.
Data collection, analysis and field research design
Qualitative researchers face many choices for techniques to generate data ranging from grounded theory development and practice, narratology, storytelling, transcript poetry, classical ethnography, state or governmental studies, research and service demonstrations, focus groups, case studies, participant observation, qualitative review of statistics in order to predict future happenings, or shadowing, among many others. Qualitative methods are used in various methodological approaches, such as action research which has sociological basis, or actor-network theory.
The most common method used to generate data in qualitative research is an interview which may be structured, semi-structured or unstructured. Other ways to generate data include group discussions or focus groups, observations, reflective field notes, texts, pictures, and other materials. Very popular among qualitative researchers are the studies of photographs, public and official documents, personal documents, and historical items in addition to images in the media and literature fields.
To analyse qualitative data, the researcher seeks meaning from all of the data that is available. The data may be categorized and sorted into patterns (i.e., pattern or thematic analyses) as the primary basis for organizing and reporting the study findings (e.g., activities in the home; interactions with government). Qualitative researchers, often associated with the education field, typically rely on the following methods for gathering information: Participant Observation, Non-participant Observation, Field Notes, Reflexive Journals, Structured Interview, Semi-structured Interview, Unstructured Interview, and Analysis of documents and materials.
The ways of participating and observing can vary widely from setting to setting as exemplified by Helen Schwartzman's primer on Ethnography in Organizations (1993). or Anne Copeland and Kathleen White's "Studying Families" (1991). Participant observation is a strategy of reflexive learning, not a single method of observing. and has been described as a continuum of between participation and observation. In participant observation researchers typically become members of a culture, group, or setting, and adopt roles to conform to that setting. In doing so, the aim is for the researcher to gain a closer insight into the culture's practices, motivations, and emotions. It is argued that the researchers' ability to understand the experiences of the culture may be inhibited if they observe without participating.
The data that is obtained is streamlined (texts of thousands of pages in length) to a definite theme or pattern, or representation of a theory or systemic issue or approach. This step in a theoretical analysis or data analytic technique is further worked on (e.g., gender analysis may be conducted; comparative policy analysis may be developed). An alternative research hypothesis is generated which finally provides the basis of the research statement for continuing work in the fields.
Some distinctive qualitative methods are the use of focus groups and key informant interviews, the latter often identified through sophisticated and sometimes, elitist, snowballing techniques. The focus group technique (e.g., Morgan, 1988) involves a moderator facilitating a small group discussion between selected individuals on a particular topic, with video and handscribed data recorded, and is useful in a coordinated research approach studying phenomenon in diverse ways in different environments with distinct stakeholders often excluded from traditional processes. This method is a particularly popular in market research and testing new initiatives with users/workers.
The research then must be "written up" into a report, book chapter, journal paper, thesis or dissertation, using descriptions, quotes from participants, charts and tables to demonstrate the trustworthiness of the study findings.
Specialized uses of qualitative research
Qualitative methods are often part of survey methodology, including telephone surveys and consumer satisfaction surveys.
In fields that study households, a much debated topic is whether interviews should be conducted individually or collectively (e.g. as couple interviews).
One traditional and specialized form of qualitative research is called cognitive testing or pilot testing which is used in the development of quantitative survey items. Survey items are piloted on study participants to test the reliability and validity of the items. This approach is similar to psychological testing using an intelligence test like the WAIS (Wechsler Adult Intelligence Survey) in which the interviewer records "qualitative" (i.e., clinical observations)throughout the testing process. Qualitative research is often useful in a sociological lens. Although often ignored, qualitative research is of great value to sociological studies that can shed light on the intricacies in the functionality of society and human interaction.
There are several different research approaches, or research designs, that qualitative researchers use. In the academic social sciences, the most frequently used qualitative research approaches include the following points:
- Basic/generic/pragmatic qualitative research, which involves using an eclectic approach taken up to best match the research question at hand. This is often called the mixed-method approach.
- Ethnographic Research. An example of applied ethnographic research is the study of a particular culture and their understanding of the role of a particular disease in their cultural framework.
- Grounded Theory is an inductive type of research, based or "grounded" in the observations or data from which it was developed; it uses a variety of data sources, including quantitative data, review of records, interviews, observation and surveys.
- Phenomenology describes the "subjective reality" of an event, as perceived by the study population; it is the study of a phenomenon.
- Philosophical Research is conducted by field experts within the boundaries of a specific field of study or profession, the best qualified individual in any field of study to use an intellectual analysis, in order to clarify definitions, identify ethics, or make a value judgment concerning an issue in their field of study their lives.
- Critical Social Research, used by a researcher to understand how people communicate and develop symbolic meanings.
- Ethical Inquiry, an intellectual analysis of ethical problems. It includes the study of ethics as related to obligation, rights, duty, right and wrong, choice etc.
- Social Science and Governmental Research to understand social services, government operations, and recommendations (or not) regarding future developments and programs, including whether or not government should be involved.
- Activist Research which aims to raise the views of the underprivileged or "underdogs" to prominence to the elite or master classes, the latter who often control the public view or positions.
- Foundational Research, examines the foundations for a science, analyzes the beliefs, and develops ways to specify how a knowledge base should change in light of new information.
- Historical Research allows one to discuss past and present events in the context of the present condition, and allows one to reflect and provide possible answers to current issues and problems. Historical research helps us in answering questions such as: Where have we come from, where are we, who are we now and where are we going?
- Visual Ethnography. It uses visual methods of data collection, including photo, voice, photo elicitation, collaging, drawing, and mapping. These techniques have been used extensively as a participatory qualitative technique and to make the familiar strange.
- Autoethnography, the study of self, is a method of qualitative research in which the researcher uses their personal experience to address an issue.
The most common analysis of qualitative data is observer impression. That is, expert or bystander observers examine the data, interpret it via forming an impression and report their impression in a structured and sometimes quantitative form.
Main article: Coding (social sciences)
Coding is an interpretive technique that both organizes the data and provides a means to introduce the interpretations of it into certain quantitative methods. Most coding requires the analyst to read the data and demarcate segments within it, which may be done at different times throughout the process. Each segment is labeled with a "code" – usually a word or short phrase that suggests how the associated data segments inform the research objectives. When coding is complete, the analyst prepares reports via a mix of: summarizing the prevalence of codes, discussing similarities and differences in related codes across distinct original sources/contexts, or comparing the relationship between one or more codes.
Some qualitative data that is highly structured (e.g., open-ended responses from surveys or tightly defined interview questions) is typically coded without additional segmenting of the content. In these cases, codes are often applied as a layer on top of the data. Quantitative analysis of these codes is typically the capstone analytical step for this type of qualitative data. The most common form of coding is open-ended coding, while other more structured techniques such as axial coding or integration are described (Strauss & Corbin, 1990). However, more important than coding are qualities such as the "theoretical sensitivity" of the researcher.
Contemporary qualitative data analyses are sometimes supported by computer programs, termed Computer Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis Software which has replaced the detailed hand coding and labeling of the past decades. These programs do not supplant the interpretive nature of coding but rather are aimed at enhancing the analyst’s efficiency at data storage/retrieval and at applying the codes to the data. Many programs offer efficiencies in editing and revising coding, which allow for work sharing, peer review, and recursive examination of data. The university goals were to place such programs on computer mainframes and analyze large data sets which is not easily conducted past 1,000 to 2,000 pages of text.
Common Qualitative Data Analysis Software includes:
A frequent criticism of coding method by individuals from other research tracks is that it seeks to transform qualitative data into empirically valid data, which contain: actual value range, structural proportion, contrast ratios, and scientific objective properties; thereby draining the data of its variety, richness, and individual character. Analysts respond to this criticism by thoroughly expositing their definitions of codes and linking those codes soundly to the underlying data, therein bringing back some of the richness that might be absent from a mere list of codes.
Some qualitative datasets are analyzed without coding. A common method here is recursive abstraction, where datasets are summarized; those summaries are therefore furthered into summary and so on. The end result is a more compact summary that would have been difficult to accurately discern without the preceding steps of distillation.
A frequent criticism of recursive abstraction is that the final conclusions are several times removed from the underlying data. While it is true that poor initial summaries will certainly yield an inaccurate final report, qualitative analysts can respond to this criticism. They do so, like those using coding method, by documenting the reasoning behind each summary step, citing examples from the data where statements were included and where statements were excluded from the intermediate summary.
Coding and "thinking"
Some data analysis techniques, often referred to as the tedious, hard work of research studies similar to field notes, rely on using computers to scan and reduce large sets of qualitative data. At their most basic level, numerical coding relies on counting words, phrases, or coincidences of tokens within the data; other similar techniques are the analyses of phrases and exchanges in conversational analyses. Often referred to as content analysis, a basic structural building block to conceptual analysis, the technique utilizes mixed methodology to unpack both small and large corpuses. Content analysis is frequently used in sociology to explore relationships, such as the change in perceptions of race over time (Morning 2008), or the lifestyles of temporal contractors (Evans, et al. 2004). Content analysis techniques thus help to provide broader output for a larger, more accurate conceptual analysis.
Mechanical techniques are particularly well-suited for a few scenarios. One such scenario is for datasets that are simply too large for a human to effectively analyze, or where analysis of them would be cost prohibitive relative to the value of information they contain. Another scenario is when the chief value of a dataset is the extent to which it contains "red flags" (e.g., searching for reports of certain adverse events within a lengthy journal dataset from patients in a clinical trial) or "green flags" (e.g., searching for mentions of your brand in positive reviews of marketplace products). Many researchers would consider these procedures on their data sets to be misuse of their data collection and purposes.
A frequent criticism of mechanical techniques is the absence of a human interpreter; computer analysis is relatively new having arrived in the late 1980s to the university sectors. And while masters of these methods are able to write sophisticated software to mimic some human decisions, the bulk of the "analysis" is still nonhuman. Analysts respond by proving the value of their methods relative to either a) hiring and training a human team to analyze the data or b) by letting the data go untouched, leaving any actionable nuggets undiscovered; almost all coding schemes indicate probably studies for further research.
Data sets and their analyses must also be written up, reviewed by other researchers, circulated for comments, and finalized for public review. Numerical coding must be available in the published articles, if the methodology and findings are to be compared across research studies in traditional literature review and recommendation formats.
Distinct qualitative paradigms
Contemporary qualitative research has been conducted using a large number of paradigms that influence conceptual and metatheoretical concerns of legitimacy, control, data analysis, ontology, and epistemology, among others. Research conducted in the twenty-first century has been characterized by a distinct turn toward more interpretive, postmodern, and critical practices. Guba and Lincoln (2005) identify five main paradigms of contemporary qualitative research: positivism, postpositivism, critical theories, constructivism, and participatory/cooperative paradigms. Each of the paradigms listed by Guba and Lincoln are characterized by axiomatic differences in axiology, intended action of research, control of research process/outcomes, relationship to foundations of truth and knowledge, validity (see below), textual representation and voice of the researcher/participants, and commensurability with other paradigms. In particular, commensurability involves the extent to which paradigmatic concerns "can be retrofitted to each other in ways that make the simultaneous practice of both possible". Positivist and post positivist paradigms share commensurable assumptions but are largely incommensurable with critical, constructivist, and participatory paradigms. Likewise, critical, constructivist, and participatory paradigms are commensurable on certain issues (e.g., intended action and textual representation).
Qualitative research in the 2000s also has been characterized by concern with everyday categorization and ordinary storytelling. This "narrative turn" is producing an enormous literature as researchers present sensitizing concepts and perspectives that bear especially on narrative practice, which centers on the circumstances and communicative actions of storytelling. Catherine Riessman (1993) and Gubrium and Holstein (2009) provide analytic strategies, and Holstein and Gubrium (2012) present the variety of approaches in recent comprehensive texts. Relatedly, narrative practice increasingly takes up the institutional conditioning of narrative practice (see Gubrium and Holstein 2000).
A central issue in qualitative research is trustworthiness (also known as credibility, or in quantitative studies, validity). There are many different ways of establishing trustworthiness, including: member check, interviewer corroboration, peer debriefing, prolonged engagement, negative case analysis, auditability, confirmability, bracketing, and balance. Most of these methods are described in Lincoln and Guba (1985). As exemplified by researchers Preston Teeter and Jorgen Sandberg, data triangulation and eliciting examples of interviewee accounts are two of the most commonly used methods of establishing trustworthiness in qualitative studies. Dependability is equivalent to the notion of reliability in quantitative methods and is the extent to which two or more people are likely to come to the same conclusions by examining the same evidence. Again, Lincoln and Guba (1985) is the salient reference.
Qualitative research journals
By the end of the 1970s many leading journals began to publish qualitative research articles and several new journals emerged which published only qualitative research studies and articles about qualitative research methods. In the 1980s and 1990s, the new qualitative research journals became more multidisciplinary in focus moving beyond qualitative research’s traditional disciplinary roots of anthropology, sociology, and philosophy. In the late 1980s to 1990s, early academic articles emerged beginning the transformation from institutional studies (e.g., Taylor's "Let them eat programs") to studies of community, community services and community life reviewed and cited in professional journals. These studies ranged from extremely controversial concerns involving the death penalty and disability (Bogdan, 1995) to the efforts of families with service providers (O'Connor, 1995)  to the government divisions which regulate families by "coming to take" the children away (Taylor, 1995).
Qualitative research in psychology
Wilhelm Wundt, the founder of scientific psychology, was one of the first psychologists to conduct qualitative research. Early examples of his qualitative research were published in 1900 through 1920, in his 10-volume study, Völkerpsychologie (translated to: Social Psychology). Wundt advocated the strong relation between psychology and philosophy. He believed that there was a gap between psychology and quantitative research that could only be filled by conducting qualitative research. Qualitative research dove into aspects of human life that could not adequately be covered by quantitative research; aspects such as culture, expression, beliefs, morality and imagination.
There are records of qualitative research being used in psychology before World War II, but prior to the 1950s, these methods were viewed as invalid. Owing to this, many of the psychologists who practiced qualitative research denied the usage of such methods or apologized for doing so. It was not until the late 20th century when qualitative research was accepted in elements of psychology though it remains controversial. The excitement about the groundbreaking form of research was short-lived as few novel findings emerged which gained attention. Community psychologists felt they didn't get the recognition they deserved. A selection of autobiographical narratives of community psychologists can be found in "Six Community Psychologists Tell Their Stories: History, Contexts and Narratives" (Kelly & Song, 2004), including the well known Julian Rappaport.
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This article is about the group of people such as a mother and a father. For the family in biology, see Family (biology). For other uses, see Family (disambiguation).
In the context of humansociety, a family (from Latin: familia) is a group of people affiliated either by consanguinity (by recognized birth), affinity (by marriage or other relationship), or co-residence (as implied by the etymology of the English word "family" [...] from Latin familia 'family servants, domestics collectively, the servants in a household,' thus also 'members of a household, the estate, property; the household, including relatives and servants,' abstract noun formed from famulus 'servant, slave [...]') or some combination of these. Members of the immediate family may include spouses, parents, brothers, sisters, sons, and daughters. Members of the extended family may include grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews, nieces, and siblings-in-law. Sometimes these are also considered members of the immediate family, depending on an individual's specific relationship with them.
In most societies, the family is the principal institution for the socialization of children. As the basic unit for raising children, anthropologists generally classify most family organizations as matrifocal (a mother and her children); conjugal (a wife, her husband, and children, also called the nuclear family); avuncular (for example, a grandparent, a brother, his sister, and her children); or extended (parents and children co-reside with other members of one parent's family). Sexual relations among the members are regulated by rules concerning incest such as the incest taboo.
The word "family" can be used metaphorically to create more inclusive categories such as community, nationhood, global village, and humanism.
The field of genealogy aims to trace family lineages through history.
The family is also an important economic unit studied in family economics.
One of the primary functions of the family involves providing a framework for the production and reproduction of persons biologically and socially. This can occur through the sharing of material substances (such as food); the giving and receiving of care and nurture (nurture kinship); jural rights and obligations; and moral and sentimental ties. Thus, one's experience of one's family shifts over time. From the perspective of children, the family is a "family of orientation": the family serves to locate children socially and plays a major role in their enculturation and socialization. From the point of view of the parent(s), the family is a "family of procreation", the goal of which is to produce and enculturate and socialize children. However, producing children is not the only function of the family; in societies with a sexual division of labor, marriage, and the resulting relationship between two people, it is necessary for the formation of an economically productive household.
Christopher Harris notes that the western conception of family is ambiguous and confused with the household, as revealed in the different contexts in which the word is used.Olivia Harris states this confusion is not accidental, but indicative of the familial ideology of capitalist, western countries that pass social legislation that insists members of a nuclear family should live together, and that those not so related should not live together; despite the ideological and legal pressures, a large percentage of families do not conform to the ideal nuclear family type.
Further information: Fertility factor (demography)
The total fertility rate of women varies from country to country, from a high of 6.76 children born/woman in Niger to a low of 0.81 in Singapore (as of 2015). Fertility is low in most Eastern European and Southern European countries; and high in most Sub-Saharan African countries.
In some cultures, the mother's preference of family size influences that of the children through early adulthood. A parent's number of children strongly correlates with the number of children that they will eventually have.
Types of family
Although early western cultural anthropologists and sociologists considered family and kinship to be universally associated with relations by "blood" (based on ideas common in their own cultures) later research has shown that many societies instead understand family through ideas of living together, the sharing of food (e.g. milk kinship) and sharing care and nurture. Sociologists have a special interest in the function and status of family forms in stratified (especially capitalist) societies.
According to the work of scholars Max Weber, Alan Macfarlane, Steven Ozment, Jack Goody and Peter Laslett, the huge transformation that led to modern marriage in Western democracies was "fueled by the religio-cultural value system provided by elements of Judaism, early Christianity, Roman Catholic canon law and the Protestant Reformation".
Much sociological, historical and anthropological research dedicates itself to the understanding of this variation, and of changes in the family that form over time. Levitan claims:
"Times have changed; it is more acceptable and encouraged for mothers to work and fathers to spend more time at home with the children. The way roles are balanced between the parents will help children grow and learn valuable life lessons. There is [the] great importance of communication and equality in families, in order to avoid role strain."
Conjugal (nuclear or single) family
The term "nuclear family" is commonly used, especially in the United States of America, to refer to conjugal families. A "conjugal" family includes only the husband, the wife, and unmarried children who are not of age. Sociologists distinguish between conjugal families (relatively independent of the kindred of the parents and of other families in general) and nuclear families (which maintain relatively close ties with their kindred). Other family structures, such as blended parents, single parents, and domestic partnerships have begun to challenge the normality of the nuclear family.
Main article: Matrifocal family
A "matrifocal" family consists of a mother and her children. Generally, these children are her biological offspring, although adoption of children is a practice in nearly every society. This kind of family occurs commonly where women have the resources to rear their children by themselves, or where men are more mobile than women. As a definition, "a family or domestic group is matrifocal when it is centred on a woman and her children. In this case, the father(s) of these children are intermittently present in the life of the group and occupy a secondary place. The children's mother is not necessarily the wife of one of the children's fathers."
The term "extended family" is also common, especially in the United States. This term has two distinct meanings:
- First, it serves as a synonym of "consanguinal family" (consanguine means "of the same blood").
- Second, in societies dominated by the conjugal family, it refers to "kindred" (an egocentric network of relatives that extends beyond the domestic group) who do not belong to the conjugal family.
These types refer to ideal or normative structures found in particular societies. Any society will exhibit some variation in the actual composition and conception of families.
Family of choice
The term "family of choice," also sometimes referred to as "chosen family," is common within the LGBT community, both in academic literature and in colloquial vocabulary. It refers to the group of people in an individual's life that satisfies the typical role of family as a support system. The term differentiates between the "family of origin" (the biological family or that in which people are raised) and those that actively assume that ideal role. The family of choice may or may not include some or all of the members of the family of origin. This terminology stems from the fact that many LGBT individuals, upon coming out, face rejection or shame from the families they were raised in. The term family of choice is also used by individuals in the 12 step communities, who create close-knit "family" ties through the recovery process.
The term blended family or stepfamily describes families with mixed parents: one or both parents remarried, bringing children of the former family into the new family. Also in sociology, particularly in the works of social psychologist Michael Lamb,traditional family refers to "a middle-class family with a bread-winning father and a stay-at-home mother, married to each other and raising their biological children," and nontraditional to exceptions from this rule. Most of the US households are now non-traditional under this definition.
In terms of communication patterns in families, there are a certain set of beliefs within the family that reflect how its members should communicate and interact. These family communication patterns arise from two underlying sets of beliefs. One being conversation orientation (the degree to which the importance of communication is valued) and two, conformity orientation (the degree to which families should emphasize similarities or differences regarding attitudes, beliefs, and values).
A monogamous family is based on a legal or social monogamy. In this case, an individual has only one (official) partner during their lifetime or at any one time (i.e. serial monogamy). This means that a person may not have several different legal spouses at the same time, as this is usually prohibited by bigamy laws, in jurisdictions that require monogamous marriages.
Polygamy is a marriage that includes more than two partners. When a man is married to more than one wife at a time, the relationship is called polygyny; and when a woman is married to more than one husband at a time, it is called polyandry. If a marriage includes multiple husbands and wives, it can be called polyamory,group or conjoint marriage.
Polygyny is a form of plural marriage, in which a man is allowed more than one wife . In modern countries that permit polygamy, polygyny is typically the only form permitted. Polygyny is practiced primarily (but not only) in parts of the Middle East and Africa; and is often associated with Islam, however, there are certain conditions in Islam that must be met to perform polygyny.
Polyandry is a form of marriage whereby a woman takes two or more husbands at the same time. Fraternal polyandry, where two or more brothers are married to the same wife, is a common form of polyandry. Polyandry was traditionally practiced in areas of the Himalayan mountains, among Tibetans in Nepal, in parts of China and in parts of northern India. Polyandry is most common in societies marked by high male mortality or where males will often be apart from the rest of the family for a considerable period of time.
Degrees of kinship
Main article: Coefficient of relationship
A first-degree relative is one who shares 50% of your DNA through direct inheritance, such as a full sibling, parent or progeny.
relationship by coefficient
|Degree of relationship by counting up generations to common ancestor and back down to target individual (used for various genealogical and legal purposes)|
|Full sibling||first-degree||50% (2×2−2)||second-degree|
|Half Niece/nephew/aunt/uncle||third-degree||12.5% (2−3)||third-degree|
|First cousin||third-degree||12.5% (2×2−4)||fourth-degree|
|Half first cousin||fourth-degree||6.25% (2−4)||fourth-degree|
|Great grandparent||third-degree||12.5% (2−3)||third-degree|
|First cousin once removed||fifth-degree||6.25% (2⋅2−5)||fifth-degree|
|Second cousin||sixth-degree||3.125% (2−6+2−6)||sixth-degree|
Main article: Kinship terminology
In his book Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family, anthropologist Lewis Henry Morgan (1818–1881) performed the first survey of kinship terminologies in use around the world. Although much of his work is now considered dated, he argued that kinship terminologies reflect different sets of distinctions. For example, most kinship terminologies distinguish between sexes (the difference between a brother and a sister) and between generations (the difference between a child and a parent). Moreover, he argued, kinship terminologies distinguish between relatives by blood and marriage (although recently some anthropologists have argued that many societies define kinship in terms other than "blood").
Morgan made a distinction between kinship systems that use classificatory terminology and those that use descriptive terminology. Classificatory systems are generally and erroneously understood to be those that "class together" with a single term relatives who actually do not have the same type of relationship to ego. (What defines "same type of relationship" under such definitions seems to be genealogical relationship. This is problematic given that any genealogical description, no matter how standardized, employs words originating in a folk understanding of kinship.) What Morgan's terminology actually differentiates are those (classificatory) kinship systems that do not distinguish lineal and collateral relationships and those (descriptive) kinship systems that do. Morgan, a lawyer, came to make this distinction in an effort to understand Seneca inheritance practices. A Seneca man's effects were inherited by his sisters' children rather than by his own children. Morgan identified six basic patterns of kinship terminologies:
- Hawaiian: only distinguishes relatives based upon sex and generation.
- Sudanese: no two relatives share the same term.
- Eskimo: in addition to distinguishing relatives based upon sex and generation, also distinguishes between lineal relatives and collateral relatives.
- Iroquois: in addition to sex and generation, also distinguishes between siblings of opposite sexes in the parental generation.
- Crow: a matrilineal system with some features of an Iroquois system, but with a "skewing" feature in which generation is "frozen" for some relatives.
- Omaha: like a Crow system but patrilineal.
Most Western societies employ Eskimo kinship terminology. This kinship terminology commonly occurs in societies based on conjugal (or nuclear) families, where nuclear families have a degree of relative mobility. Members of the nuclear use descriptive kinship terms:
Such systems generally assume that the mother's husband is also the biological father. In some families, a woman may have children with more than one man or a man may have children with more than one woman. The system refers to a child who shares only one parent with another child as a "half-brother" or "half-sister". For children who do not share biological or adoptive parents in common, English-speakers use the term "stepbrother" or "stepsister" to refer to their new relationship with each other when one of their biological parents marries one of the other child's biological parents. Any person (other than the biological parent of a child) who marries the parent of that child becomes the "stepparent" of the child, either the "stepmother" or "stepfather". The same terms generally apply to children adopted into a family as to children born into the family. In the United States, one in five mothers have children by different fathers; among mothers with two or more children the figure is higher, with 28% having children with at least two different men. Such families are more common among Blacks and Hispanics, and among the lower socioeconomic class.
Typically, societies with conjugal families also favor neolocal residence; thus upon marriage, a person separates from the nuclear family of their childhood (family of orientation) and forms a new nuclear family (family of procreation). However, in western society, the single parent family has been growing more accepted and has begun to make an impact on culture. Single parent families are more commonly single mother families than single father. These families sometimes face difficult issues besides the fact that they have to rear their children on their own, for example, low income making it difficult to pay for rent, child care, and other necessities for a healthy and safe home. Members of the nuclear families of members of one's own (former) nuclear family may class as lineal or as collateral. Kin who regard them as lineal refer to them in terms that build on the terms used within the nuclear family:
- Grandfather: a parent's father
- Grandmother: a parent's mother
- Grandson: a child's son
- Granddaughter: a child's daughter
For collateral relatives, more classificatory terms come into play, terms that do not build on the terms used within the nuclear family:
- Uncle: parent's brother, or male spouse of parent's sibling
- Aunt: parent's sister, or female spouse of parent's sibling
- Nephew: sibling's son, or spouse's sibling's son
- Niece: sibling's daughter, or spouse's sibling's daughter
When additional generations intervene (in other words, when one's collateral relatives belong to the same generation as one's grandparents or grandchildren), the prefixes "great-" or "grand-" modifies these terms. Also, as with grandparents and grandchildren, as more generations intervene the prefix becomes "great-grand-," adding another "great-" for each additional generation. Most collateral relatives have never had membership of the nuclear family of the members of one's own nuclear family.
- Cousin: the most classificatory term; the children of uncles or aunts. One can further distinguish cousins by degrees of collaterality and by generation. Two persons of the same generation who share a grandparent count as "first cousins" (one degree of collaterality); if they share a great-grandparent they count as "second cousins" (two degrees of collaterality) and so on. If two persons share an ancestor, one as a grandchild and the other as a great-grandchild of that individual, then the two descendants class as "first cousins once removed" (removed by one generation); if they shared ancestor figures as the grandparent of one individual and the great-great-grandparent of the other, the individuals class as "first cousins twice removed" (removed by two generations), and so on. Similarly, if they shared ancestor figures as the great-grandparent of one person and the great-great-grandparent of the other, the individuals class as "second cousins once removed". Hence one can refer to a "third cousin once removed upwards."
Cousins of an older generation (in other words, one's parents' first cousins), although technically first cousins once removed, are often classified with "aunts" and "uncles." Similarly, a person may refer to close friends of one's parents as "aunt" or "uncle," or may refer to close friends as "brother" or "sister," using the practice of fictive kinship. English-speakers mark relationships by marriage (except for wife/husband) with the tag "-in-law." The mother and father of one's spouse become one's mother-in-law and father-in-law; the female spouse of one's child becomes one's daughter-in-law and the male spouse of one's child becomes one's son-in-law. The term "sister-in-law" refers to three essentially different relationships, either the wife of one's sibling, or the sister of one's spouse, or, in some uses, the wife of one's spouse's sibling. "Brother-in-law" expresses a similar ambiguity. The terms "half-brother" and "half-sister" indicate siblings who share only one biological or adoptive parent.
Types of kinship
Patrilineality, also known as the male line or agnatic kinship, is a form of kinship system in which an individual's family membership derives from and is traced through his or her father's lineage. It generally involves the inheritance of property, rights, names, or titles by persons related through male kin.
A patriline ("father line") is a person's father, and additional ancestors that are traced only through males. One's patriline is thus a record of descent from a man in which the individuals in all intervening generations are male. In cultural anthropology, a patrilineage is a consanguineal male and female kinship group, each of whose members is descended from the common ancestor through male forebears.
Matrilineality is a form of kinship system in which an individual's family membership derives from and is traced through his or her mother's lineage.
It may also correlate with a societal system in which each person is identified with their matriline—their mother's lineage—and which can involve the inheritance of property and titles. A matriline is a line of descent from a femaleancestor to a descendant in which the individuals in all intervening generations are mothers – in other words, a "mother line".
In a matrilineal descent system, an individual is considered to belong to the same descent group as her or his mother. This matrilineal descent pattern is in contrasts to the more common pattern of patrilineal descent pattern.
Bilateral descent is a form of kinship system in which an individual's family membership derives from and is traced through both the paternal and maternal sides. The relatives on the mother's side and father's side are equally important for emotional ties or for transfer of property or wealth. It is a family arrangement where descent and inheritance are passed equally through both parents. Families who use this system trace descent through both parents simultaneously and recognize multiple ancestors, but unlike with cognatic descent it is not used to form descent groups.
Traditionally, this is found among some groups in West Africa, India, Australia, Indonesia, Melanesia, Malaysia and Polynesia. Anthropologists believe that a tribal structure based on bilateral descent helps members live in extreme environments because it allows individuals to rely on two sets of families dispersed over a wide area.
History of theories
Main article: History of the family