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Housing and the family Kirby, Elizabeth Jeannette

Abstract

Some form of shelter, commonly referred to as "housing", has always been an important requirement of man. Today, the study of housing is a complex matter, as this topic can be approached from several viewpoints. Since the characteristics of the family, as an institution, changes over time, it is important to periodically study the family's purpose, goals and functions. Changes in the family also influence their attitude towards, and needs for, housing. As a result, the architectural style of the family's housing has also changed over time. The objectives of this paper are to provide the planner with: sociological information on the family; knowledge of the-social beliefs which have influenced the physical form of North American domestic architecture; an outline of the major domestic architectural styles in North America, with reference to the relationship between house design and the characteristics of the family; knowledge of the expressed preferences of households for their housing, and the consumer's housing behavior. From the sociologist's study of the family, discussed in Chapter II, it is found that the most characteristic contemporary North American family, as compared with the early North American one, is of a nuclear, urban, form. It is primarily a consumption unit, rather than a production one. In today's family, there is now an emphasis on individualism, rather than familism. As a result the family is more oriented to the personal needs and desires of each member - in particular, to the child. Many aspects of the former functions of the family have been transferred, in varying degrees, to other institutions and agencies which are outside of the home. The home, however, remains important, particularly as a place to obtain security and happiness. The contemporary house, as described in Chapter III, offers more privacy and opportunity for the individuality for each family member than in previous architectural styles. There are design features, such as two living areas, which also allow far the separation of the two generations and which reflect the family's goal of individualism. In to-day's house, too, convenience is important, as evidenced by a functional floor plan and the provision of many mechanical devices. From information about housing preferences, surveyed in Chapter IV, it is found that the majority of households desire the ownership of a single family detached house. Most contemporary families, however, live in several forms of housing during the family life cycle. In general, families move from one dwelling unit to another in order to bring their housing requirements more into line with their needs. A frequent reason for moving is the need for additional space. In selecting a new residence, factors such as the interior design, the social character of the neighborhood and design features related to the requirements for children are considered important. With the information provided in this paper, the planner has a broader background of knowledge from which to assess the requirements of the contemporary family for a more satisfactory housing environment.

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