The family has a resounding presence in late-modern societies. Conservative commentators lament its decline. Liberals seek ways of strengthening it. Radicals seek alternative models of it, if no longer seeking alternatives to it. In the regularly circulated truism, it is seen as the most basic unit of society. But for something so basic, the family as concept has had a varied history. Who we decide are kin and what we describe as ‘the family’ are clearly dependent on a range of historical and cultural factors. Historically and cross-culturally ‘family’ has embraced wide kin groups, households (often including servants) and tight nuclear groupings. Today, there are many different family forms especially within highly industrialized, Western societies, coexisting more or less harmoniously – shaped by class, geography, and different religious, cultural, racial and ethnic communities, and by Choice. Many people now speak of their ‘families of choice’, based on friendship networks and chosen kin. There are ‘non-heterosexual families’ as well as traditional heterosexual families residing next to each other, more or less in harmony (Weeks et al. 2001).