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Challenging the concepts of the "typical" family, the authors illustrate the diversity of household forms and kinship ties throughout history and in the present. Peeilng away layers of emotion and idealogy, they explore the social, political, emotional, and economic functions of the family as well as the importance of gender, class, race, and culture in shaping it. A variety of contemporary family forms-nuclear, single parent, communal-are described, and provocative questions raised abotu families of the future.