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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.The word "family" can be used metaphorically to create more inclusive categories such as community, nationhood, global village, and humanism.

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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." These types refer to ideal or normative structures found in particular societies.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. Sociologists have a special interest in the function and status of family forms in stratified (especially capitalist) societies.

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).

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