Difference Between Family and Clan

Humans have lived in groups during ancient times. We are social beings and tend to stay together as a group. Early humans lived in separate groups depending on their geographical location.


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But as we civilized and learned new things, we grew apart. Now, people don’t live in groups but as a family. Some people live alone but they are however part of a family.

Key Takeaways

  1. A family is a small social unit consisting of parents and their children, while a clan is a larger group of people who share a common ancestor.
  2. Families are the basic building blocks of society, whereas clans represent extended networks of kinship and shared heritage.
  3. Clans often have a more complex social structure and governance system than families, which may include rules, rituals, and traditions.

Family vs Clan

A family is a group of two or more people who live together and are either related by birth, marriage, or adoption. A family usually just includes the father, mother and the children. A clan is an extended family. It also includes your cousins, second cousins, aunts and uncles, and grandparents.

Family vs Clan

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Family in the case of humans is formed by people who are related by marriages or by birth. But, anyone who cares for a person and provides them with the things they need is considered family now.

The family takes care of each individual of the family see to that their needs are met. A family is formed by emotions like love and care.

A clan may be a group of people related either by a common ancestor or by living as a group in society. Some clans are not clear about their ancestral lineage but they claim to be of a single clan.

Clans in some countries practice endogamy. Some clans consider animal totems to be their emblem.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonFamilyClan
Relationship Related by bloodA common ancestor
RoleIt represents a person in the society In the past clan stood together during battles
PastFamilies were large and multigenerationalClans occupied the same location
Present People mostly live as nuclear families The clan is now mostly a political thing
Examples The Addams family from the movies or the Kardashian family Irish clan, Chinese clan, etc

What is a Family?

A family provides a safe environment for the members to perform their normal activities and also to grow as an individual. Family members are bound by love to take care of others.

Family members may be mother, father, children, grandchildren, grandparents, cousins, uncle, aunt, niece, and nephew. But now people tend to maintain small families.

In some cultures, people have large families. In this case, all the family members live in the same house. Different people perceive family differently.

Children consider family to be their identity of them and help them socialize. Parents consider the goal of the family is to produce offspring, make them ready for society, and socialize.

The members in one family need not be blood relatives. They can even be friends who take care of each other. This can be known by the term kinship where people live together, share food and nurture one another.

There are different types of families. A joint family or multigenerational family was common during the past. In this type grandparents, parents and children lived on a farm or a house together.

Nuclear families have become common now. It includes only the parents and children. Single-parent families are run by only one parent and the children are part of it.

This type of family was found to be increasing in the US. A matrifocal family is the one with the mother and children. All these types are families consist of blood relatives.

While there is a new type called the family of choice in which people get to choose their family members.

What is a Clan?

The word Clan derived its origin from the Irish word Clann which means children. This word was believed to be introduced in 1425.

Clan comprises of people believed to be descended from one person. This clan may have a leader. This leader is the eldest person of the clan in some cases.

The present-day example of the clan is the English clan living in England, the Irish clan living in Ireland, etc. These people live in their respective countries.

A large number of closely related clans can be seen in South India. The clan was seen as a political unit since early times. When a fight arose between two clans all the members of these clans fought together.

Now, these clans have become less important and are diminishing in many countries. People of a single clan marry among themselves, clan offers emotional, financial, and other kinds of support to their members.

Besides, the term clan is also commonly used in other areas like in video games. A group of players playing together is called a clan.

The members of a clan are mostly friends. The clan is also used to refer to a casual friend group. People in the past had emblems of their clans. This emblem was either their leader or common ancestor or any significant animal.

Main Differences Between Family and Clan

  1. The family consists of people who are linked by blood. They may be close relatives or people linked by marriages. While a clan may or may not include people related by blood
  2. Families have a common ancestor this person may be a grandparent or parent. The clan is also believed to have a common ancestor.
  3. Family is small when compared to the clan. Family is made up of only a few close people but, a clan comprises of a large number of people
  4. Family takes care of the well-being of every family member. They provide food, shelter, love, and care. The clan may or may not provide this kind of supports
  5. A person is represented by their family. The clan is made of many families.
Difference Between Family and Clan
  1. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/american-journal-of-international-law/article/clan-and-superclan-loyalty-identity-and-community-in-law-and-practice/8B14D63746CC1F9D3FE393EE48EC827F
  2. https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/BF02289263.pdf
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