Dispelling The Myth Of The Nuclear Family

Evening talk

Rebecca Sear

Dispelling The Myth Of The Nuclear Family

Tuesday, March 24, 2020 - 18:45

Daryll Forde Seminar Room, Anthropology Building, 14 Taviton St, off Gordon Sq., London WC1H 0BW. Tube: Euston Square. map

There is a widespread assumption in the West that the nuclear family is the ‘traditional’ human family, particularly the ‘male breadwinner-female homemaker’ version of the nuclear family. In this talk, I’ll show data from populations around the world which demonstrates that the nuclear family is a rather unusual family form cross-culturally. I’ll also show data which provides evidence that humans are ‘cooperative breeders’, which means that women need help from beyond the nuclear family to raise children successfully to adulthood. For example, there is evidence from around the world that children who are cared for by grandmothers have better health and survival chances than those who don’t receive such care. At the end of the talk, I’ll discuss how the Western focus on the nuclear family is likely to lead to adverse health consequences for mothers, fathers and children. Throughout the talk, I’ll emphasise the importance of taking a cross-cultural approach to understanding the human family, and one which incorporates an understanding that evolutionary processes have shaped human behaviour. Such an approach is vital for improving the wellbeing of individuals.

More about Rebecca Sear

Evening talk information

Our evening talks include discussion, are free and open to all.