Defining the household
The following functions are usually associated with the household:
- joint production
- shared consumption and
- kinship links.
However, human society is varied and complex and no definition of the household, however general, completely fits all circumstances. Guyer's (1980) definition of a household as a particularly dense centre in a network of exchange relationships acknowledges the fluid nature of the boundaries separating the household from the community of which it is a part.
A cultural component is inherent in the nature of relationships within the household. A strong tradition exists in Africa of separate economic spheres of activity for men and women, with considerable independence for each. But even in a traditionally patriarchal Asian society such as Bangladesh, economic forces affect the balance of decision-making power in the household. Women who bring in wage income have a greater influence on how the income is spent than do those who work only in the home (Alamgir, 1977).
Source: adapted from Rogers (1990).