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Briefly discuss the meaning of family from different perspectives

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There have been many attempts to define the meaning of family and many would argue that it is impossible to come up with a universal definition. The family has been viewed as a form of social group held together by a common purpose. However there are distinct differences between families and social groups. Family membership may be involuntary and permanent and there is frequently a biological connectedness not present in other groups – this is typical of those who form a more traditional view of the family unit – where members are considered family due to blood and genetic links. Some may also consider that family members are more intensely bonded through emotional ties, so families include those members joined by marriage or other formal partnership or include members such as close friends or other caregivers.

This shifts the definition to one of an inclusive perspective which offers a broad all encompassing definition whereby each person’s interpretation of kinship is based upon local subculture and the individuals own reality – including their beliefs, culture, ethnicity and situational experiences. Having such a broad scope for definition provides a universal perspective on ‘family’ but is also very vague as it purely reflects what the individual wants it to be. In recent family support policy and practice, the family network is broad and fluid and ties are not restricted to geographical location, blood ties or proximity. The children’s family involves a diverse range of related and unrelated members and reflects the child’s history, traditions and experiences. These broad constructs allow for the inclusion of those not traditionally considered part of the family and the exclusion of those members who may otherwise be included.

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