The family is something that most of us grow up in and which forms an important part of our society — it is what sociologists refer to as a ‘social institution’. It is therefore easy to take it for granted and not give it a further thought. However, to study children and work with them in an informed way, we need to look more closely at the family: what we mean by the term; how it changes over time; and how different cultures have different conceptions of family. If we are unclear about these important issues, we may be basing practice on an oversimplified understanding of the issues involved when studying children or understanding a child, and that can be dangerous.
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