Sociology of Family and Friendship


Carework refers to the work of caring for others, including unpaid care for family members and friends, as well as paid care for others. Caring work includes taking care of children, the elderly, the sick, and the disabled, as well as domestic work such as cleaning and cooking. As reproductive labor, carework is necessary to […]


In the past few decades, childhood has received extensive academic attention from sociology. Previous studies on the topic have approached childhood primarily from a psychological perspective. They have especially focused on childhood as a time for cognitive development and psychological maturity. In the discipline of sociology, the area of childhood has not been fully neglected, […]


The past few decades have brought dramatic changes in the residential arrangements of romantically involved unmarried adults. Indeed, as sexual activity has become uncoupled from marriage, growing numbers of young couples have begun sharing a home and a bed without the legal sanction of marriage. Cohabitation, as this type of living arrangement is commonly known, […]


A major social trend during the past century has been a global increase in the divorce rate. During the second half of the twentieth century divorce rates increased in most industrialized countries. Some of the social characteristics that appear to have contributed to the increase in the divorce rate are increased individualism, increasing marital expectations, […]

Family Demography

Family demography is a subfield of demography that focuses on explaining the causes and consequences of population trends related to the family. These trends include changing gender relations within households; the formation, dissolution and reformation of romantic unions; fertility; and changes in household size and composition. Family demographers are made up of researchers from a […]

Family Diversity

Historically, the term family diversity referred to variations from a traditional family. This implied that there was one best type of family, and that all other family types were dysfunctional and deviant. In a more contemporary view, family diversity refers to a broad range of characteristics or dimensions on which families vary, along with a […]

History of Family

European societies during the nineteenth century underwent massive changes. The old social order anchored in kinship, the village, the community, religion, and old regimes was attacked and fell to the twin forces of industrialism and revolutionary democracy. The sweeping changes had particular effect on the family. There was a dramatic increase in such conditions as […]

Family Poverty

Social scientists have had a long standing interest in family poverty for at least three major reasons. First, there has been a concern regarding the role that families play in the intergenerational transmission of poverty. Second, the importance of family structure as a causal factor leading to poverty, and in particular understanding the relationship between […]

Family Structure

Within any society there are more or less common ways of ”doing” family relationships which are broadly accepted as appropriate in that society. This does not mean that all family relationships follow the same societal ”rules.” There are always variations and alternative practices. Moreover the more complex and diverse a society, the more variation there […]

Family Theory

There are many different theories in family theory. The following article will therefore set out some of the more influential approaches. Exchange Theory Individuals are seen as making choices about behavior based on the balance of rewards and costs that the behavior has for them. Behavior becomes exchange when the actions of one individual enter […]


Fatherhood is a social institution and includes the rights, responsibilities and statuses associated with being a father. It also refers to general ideologies and public meanings. There is general agreement that fatherhood has altered over recent decades but less consensus over the extent of change. The breadth and depth of research on fatherhood has developed […]


Defining who belongs to a household appears relatively straightforward, and for many people it is. Usually at any time there exists a clear-cut group of one or more individuals who eat together, share a common housekeeping and sleep in the same dwelling. As a result of recent demographic trends though, household patterns have been altering […]


Housework refers to all unpaid labor performed to maintain family members and/or a home including cleaning, buying groceries, meal preparation, and laundry. In most studies, housework is defined by its measurement and often excludes childcare, emotion work, and other invisible types of labor. However, sociologists do acknowledge that the construction of ”housework” as a concept […]


For much of the twentieth century debates around kinship in western societies focused largely on the impact of industrialization on family structure. Parsons’s (1949) arguments that industrialization encourages a kinship system with relatively strong boundaries around the nuclear family were particularly influential, though other writers queried how strong these boundaries really were. Certainly, there is […]

Lesbian and Gay Families

In the narrowest sense, the term ”lesbian and gay family” refers to lesbian and gay individuals or same-sex couples and their children. The term is sometimes used to refer to same-sex partnerships or cohabiting relationships. In the broadest sense, the term can denote social networks that include lesbian or gay individuals and/or couples where some […]

Lone Parent Families

The term ”lone parent family” does not have an exact definition but broadly consists of a family where one parent lives alone with one or more dependent children. This then raises the question of what a ”dependent child” is and what constitutes ”living alone” and ”living with.” In the UK, ”dependent children” are defined for […]

Love and Commitment

DEFINITIONS OF LOVE Colors of Love: Eros: an erotic, passionate love. Eros love can be love at first sight and can end suddenly, leaving the person wondering what they saw in their former beloved. Mania: the dark side of passionate love. Mania involves obsession with the beloved person and jealousy. Storge: friendship-based love that develops […]


Marriage is important to the individuals concerned, the others to whom they are connected, and to the society within which the marriage is recognized. Marriage will not necessarily be important in the same way across different societies or to the different individuals within these societies. Recognizing this qualification, the list here outlines some of the […]


Motherhood is the word that sociologists use when referring to social experiences associated with being a mother. The term is meant to differentiate the biological fact of producing a baby (becoming a mother) and practices involved in taking care of children (mothering) from social norms linked to creating and caring for children. Theorists of motherhood […]

Same-Sex Marriage and Civil Unions

Same-sex marriage refers to a union by two people of the same sex that is legally sanctioned by the state, where identical rights and responsibilities are afforded same-sex and heterosexual married couples. The term ”gay marriage” is popularly used to refer to same-sex partnerships or cohabiting relationships that are formally registered in some way as […]