What Is the Difference Between Kinship and Family?

Family refers to two or more people interrelated through blood, marriage, fostering or adoption. Normally, a family is perceived to live together in the same household, albeit for varying durations. On the other hand, kinship refers to the system by which a given culture defines, determines and recognizes family roles, interactions and relationships. Kinship also defines and describes peoples’ rights, roles, powers and responsibilities in a family or clan setup.

Whereas kinship and family may both be viewed with respect to genetic origins and relationships, slight differences exist between these concepts. For instance, kinship may be attained through genetic relations, adoption and forms of ritualized practices such as marriage and household economies. Kinship could also be extended across tribes. Kinship falls in different sizes ranging from nuclear and extended family size to clan or tribal kinship. However, family is more restricted and does not extend to tribe or clan levels. A family is also composed of all the descendants of a common ancestor and is normally considered to include couples, children, single parents and other dependants. The main types of family are couple families, single parent families and parent-child relations. Compared to kinship, family is more about people with the same origin, history and character traits.