Want to make creations as awesome as this one?


What is family?

By: Chloe HartmanCFD 632 - Chapter 3 Illustration

The Question:

What are the strengths and limitations of defining families according to their structure (i.e., membership based on blood relationship, legal ties, or residence)? What are the strengths and limitations of defining families according to their functions (i.e., core functions that members perform)?

“it has long been recognized that clear and agreed-upon definitions are critically important because progress depends on identifying the parameters—what family policy is, what it is not, and what it can achieve” (Bogenschneider, 2014, p. 42).

Turn sound on!

Structural Definitions

Membership based on blood relationships, legal ties, or residence


  • Recognizes legal responsibility and benefits
    • Example: child support


  • Excludes those who play family-like roles but aren't related by birth, marriage, or adoption
    • Examples: long-term foster families, same-sex partners, and cohabitating couples

(Bogenschneider, 2014, p. 52-53)

Structural Definitions:

membership based on core functions that families perform


  • More inclusive of all types of families - same-sex, foster families, grandparents raising kids
  • Considers cultural factors
  • Recognizes changing family forms


  • Living arrangements that many consider family don't fulfill specified family functions
    • Examples: non-custodial parent that doesn't pay child support
    • married couple that is only together for economic reasons or for their children

(Bogenschneider, 2014, p. 52-53)

In Conclusion,

the author of the text advises that the definition of family used should reinforce what the specific program or policy is trying to accomplish rather than trying to agree upon a universal definition

(Bogenschneider, 2014, p. 52-53)