Encyclopedia of Immigrant Health

2012 Edition
| Editors: Sana Loue, Martha Sajatovic

Matrifocal Family

  • Laila Prager
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-5659-0_491

Usually this term is used to refer to a residential kinship group with no male in the role of husband/father being regularly present, and where women constitute the focus of the family. Comparative anthropological research has shown that matrifocality can be a culturally preferred or accepted feature, often but not exclusively in connection with matrilineal descent, as among the Minangkabau in Indonesia, the Na in China, or in some societies of the Afro-Caribbean region (e.g., Barbados). Presently, however, there are many other societies that display a tendency toward the emergence of matrifocal families, though officially such a family structure is still deemed as a social anomaly. Examples include the Middle East where men are expected to wield authority over the female family members, or in parts of China where fathers are the uncontested head of the family, or Cuba with its idea of machismo. Despite the overall value of male domination, these and other regions are witnessing an...

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Suggested Readings

  1. Benzeval, M. (1998). The self-reported health status of lone parents. Social Science & Medicine, 46, 1337–1353.Google Scholar
  2. Blackwell, E. (2005). Wedding bell blues: Marriage, missing men, and matrifocal follies. American Ethnologist, 32(1), 3–19.Google Scholar
  3. Fujiwara, L. (2008). Mothers without citizenship: Asian immigrant families and the consequences of welfare reform. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  4. Lansford, J. E., Deater-Deckard, K. D., & Bornstein, M. (2007). Immigrant families in contemporary societies. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  5. Marchevsky, A., & Theoharis, J. (2006). Not working: Latina immigrants, low wage jobs, and the failure of welfare reform. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Safa, H. (2005). The matrifocal family and patriarchal ideology in Cuba and the Caribbean. Journal of Latin American Anthropology, 10(2), 314–338.Google Scholar
  7. Westin, M., & Westerling, R. (2006). Health and healthcare utilization among single mothers and single fathers in Sweden. Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, 34, 182–189.PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laila Prager
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of EthnologyUniversity of MünsterMünsterGermany