Family relationships are an integral part of life for most people around the world. Decisions about migration are tied together with family responsibilities, and immigration policies are also set with families in mind. Settlement is also affected by family dynamics, and vice versa. The definition of “family” is inherently cultural. Although in many cultures “family” refers to people related to each other genetically or through marriage, it can also include groups who are cohabiting, fostering, or in many other arrangements. Family dynamics and composition varies greatly across cultures. Variations include:
- Individualism vs. interdependence: The degree to which decisions are made based on the needs of the individual vs. the needs of the family unit.
- Nuclear vs. extended family models: The structure of an “ideal” family unit and whether it includes only parent(s) and child(ren) or a larger network including grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and others.
- Role flexibility and kinship: How a culture places values on different segments of an extended family, for instance if an individual is seen as having a stronger duty to their maternal family than their paternal family, or vice versa.
Learn more: Family, Migration, and Settlement; Issue 32