Subjective Definition of the Family in Lithuania: Evidence Based on Qualitative Interviews

Vida Česnuitytė


The aim of the paper is to present research results on subjective understanding of family among population of Lithuania. The research objectives are to explore the criteria used in defining family, identify persons named as family members and non-family members based on these criteria. The research hypotheses include the following: (1) the list of family members not necessarily include kin only, persons beyond the nuclear and extended families could be named as family members also, and visa versa, persons from nuclear and extended families could be named as non-family members; (2) registered marriage and blood are not the only criteria in subjective definition of the family in Lithuania any more. The test of the hypotheses was based on 60 in-depth qualitative interviews carried out in June – August, 2012 under the research project “Trajectories of Family Models and Social Networks: Intergenerational Perspective”. The research results showed that blood criteria is still important in the definition of the nuclear family of procreation and the nuclear family of orientation, what concerns children and parents. Marriage criteria is important when defining the nuclear family of procreation and what concerns spouses. What concerns other persons, related to kin and non-kin relationship, other criteria play a more important role: mutual help and support, emotional closeness and attachment, close emotional bonds in a certain period of life (childhood, school years, etc.), common activities and interests, life under the same roof, living in a nearby place, belonging to a certain formal or informal community and/or other investment into relationships, etc.


concept of the family; criteria of definition of the family; family members; nonfamily members

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"Social Work" ISSN online 2029-2775 / ISSN print 1648-4789