Redefining the Family: Changes and Continuities


Year: 2019 Vol: 1 Number: 1


Family has been discussed in the sociology literature for a long time from a structural functionalist perspective. Attempted in this context is the revealing of the family seen as a micro-state and its function in social integration. However, family has undergone a rapid transformation in recent history. Therefore, revising the theoretical approaches that examine family has become imperative. This article claims the present definitions of family to remain inadequate in showing current family relationships. This claim has been brought to the agenda, specifically in Turkey. In other words, when considering current family organization, the definitions of family do not fully reflect reality. This claim is proven using Ricoeur’s hermeneutical method together with symbolic interactionism. While bringing the definitions of family in the literature to the agenda on one side in the section Analytical Thought, a discussion is opened on the shortcomings in order to arrive at a holistic definition of family. The shortcomings of the existing definitions of family are clearly revealed in light of both the quantitative and qualitative data obtained from TURKSTAT and various studies. In fact, the differentiation of household structure and data showing family organization to be able to have interruptions and breaks from being permanently together overrides a functional definition of family. In the section Dialectical Thought, a holistic definition of family has been able to be reached by interpreting the data from the qualitative interviews performed with 22 fathers using the symbolic interactionism approach. It is laid out this way by showing how family has passed through a transformation in Turkey, thus uncovering the current meaning of family in the world today. Therefore a different dimension is brought to discussions that will be done in the literature on family. In conclusion, the current definitions of family are shown to be insufficient and evaluating the new forms that family has received as a scattering or destructive process as a result of the experienced social transformation are shown to have flaws. Thus a new definition for family is obtained and, by producing new areas of interest in the process of family members’ current transformations using this definition, continuity of a capital flow is clearly revealed.

family, social transformation of the family, hermeneutics, symbolic interaction, extent of relationships

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