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PNG images: Family

In the context of human society, a family is a group of people affiliated either by consanguinity (by recognised birth), affinity (by marriage or other relationship), or co-residence (as implied by the etymology of the English word "family") 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.

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In most societies, the family is the principal institution for the socialisation of children. As the basic unit for raising children, anthropologists generally classify most family organisations 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.

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 socialisation. 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 socialise 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.