The institution of nuclear family in its predominant form- husband, wife and children; appears to be facing serious challenges of survival in the contemporary world. Anthropology needs to re-visit this primary social institution and deliberate on the evolving family types and humanity.
Family is the basic unit of humanity. The institution of family, irrespective of its numerical and genealogical composition plays a pivotal role in the socialization process and in nurturing the most vulnerable human infant till it is ready to join the human fraternity. Family satisfies the social, material, physical and psychological needs of its members. While humanity is continuously evolving, 'unconventional family' types are also emerging in the developed and developing countries, especially in the urban milieu, as a result of individualistic thinking and personal preferences. Increasing divorce rates and broken families, multiple marriages and progenies with multiple partners, single parent families, families of same sex couples, unwed mothers and fathers, increasing number of old age sanatoriums, temporary families of 'live-in-relationship' are issues that not only generate considerable academic debate but also raise serious ethical problems in the contemporary world. Breakthroughs in the area of new reproductive technologies and the new possibilities that are being provided in terms of procreation, bypassing the institution of family, raises the question whether the family is a threatened institution in the context of evolving humanity. The nature and notion of kinship in the era of new reproductive technologies, the relationship between biological and social reproduction, and issues related to gender and sexuality are to be examined. The proposed panel provides a platform for cross cultural examination of the stresses experienced by the institution of family in the contemporary world.