A Closer Examination of Family Group Decision Making in
social system.16 Smaller individual family groups form a larger
“clan,” where membership is based on lineage of a shared founding
ancestor.17 An additional element of the kinship group is land, as
each member in a family or clan is ensured sufficient land to meet his
or her own production and survival needs.18 These clans are
structured as a type of unlimited co-responsibility, with the well
being of each member a priority for all.19 Within this context, one
common understanding of a family is “a network of persons who
share resources, residences, emotional bonds and obligations, and
support each other in the joint tasks of rearing children in
environments sometimes characterized by social and economic
adversity.”20 For this reason, the family unit serves not only to
organize behavior and economy, but also to preserve culture and
monitor the provision of services to its members.21
All families and larger clans who share a common ancestor
have their own shared norms, values, and customs, and comprise
their own ethnic sub-group.22 Clans often embrace unique rituals and
practices, giving them a sense of unity and distinctiveness from
others.23 There is also a customary law24 of collaboration and self
16 Christopher P. Ekpe, Social Welfare and Family Support: The Nigerian
Experience, 10 J. SOC. & SOC. WELFARE 484, 484 (1983); IMPROVING CARE
OPTIONS FOR CHILDREN IN ETHIOPIA, supra note 6, at 23.
17 See Culture of Ethiopia, EVERYCULTURE.COM, http://www.everyculture.com/Cr-Ga/ Ethiopia.html#b (last visited May 29, 2013) (defining “clan” as clusters of kin
who claim a single common ancestry but can rarely, if ever, trace the actual links of
18 Ekpe, supra note 16, at 486.
19 Id. at 485 (noting “the wealth of the family is shared among its members with
manifest fairness and equity”).
20 Stephanie Brown et al., African American Extended Families and Kinship Care:
How Relevant Is the Foster Care Model for Kinship Care?, 24 CHILD. & YOUTH
SERVS. REV. 55, 74 (2002), http://www.edgewood.org/assets/research-center-pdfs/african-american-extended.pdf.
21 Ekpe, supra note 16, at 484.
22 Id. at 485.
23 Culture of Ethiopia, supra note 17.