The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Extended Family

  • Olivia Harris
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-349-95189-5_425

Abstract

It has long been assumed that extended families are typical of pre-capitalist or non-capitalist societies, while the nuclear family form is the product of industrialization and urbanization. Modernization theories, deriving ultimately from nineteenth-century thinkers such as the French social reformer Frédéric Le Play (e.g., 1871), and finding different forms of expression in the Chicago School of urban sociology (e.g., Wirth 1938) and Parsonian functionalism (e.g., Parsons and Bales 1955), was articulated in a moderate form by W. Goode:While Goode himself recognizes that the conjugal family was prevalent in Western Europe long before the Industrial Revolution and limits himself to stating how functionally suited it is to the industrial system, it has long been assumed that the nuclear family emerged as a result of the development of capitalism (e.g., Tawney 1912). How this supposed transformation is interpreted depends on ideological positions: for those critical of the effects of capitalism the extended family evokes a world of solidarity and human values, while for the opposite tradition which finds its decisive expression in liberalism as a political doctrine, the extended family serves to maintain dependency between kin and to prevent the development of the entrepreneurial spirit.

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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Olivia Harris
    • 1
  1. 1.