Defining and using the concept of household: a systematic review

G.J. Casimir, H. Tobi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Consumption and/or domestic activities in the private domain are much studied subjects. In the field of home economics and related fields of study, the household is the main unit of analysis. This paper focuses on how the household is conceptualized in literature during 2000–2010. The paper contains two lines of investigation. The first questions whether and in which way the household is defined in a selection of peer-reviewed articles of which the concept is part of the title. The second is about the multifaceted nature of the concept and elicits the facets that feature in the articles. A systematic review was performed using the bibliographic database Web of Science, as it covers different branches of science, including, but not limited to, home economics, developmental sociology, environmental sciences and transportation. The search was formulated by means of a Boolean expression. Articles were included when they were written in English, published between 2000 and 2010, and contained Househ* in title and Theor* in the topic, and either member* or product* or care or livelihood in the topic. Abstracts and full papers were assigned to Atlas.ti, a program for computer-assisted qualitative data analysis. Bottom-up and top-down coding procedures were used for a domain analysis and a quantitative content analysis. The results show that very few (less than 10%) of the papers give a definition of the concept ‘household’. Instead, some papers give a study description based on so-called household characteristics, thereby implicitly indicating dimensions of the concept. In the Results sections, some of the characteristics used for inclusion or exclusion of study participants are mentioned, but also other characteristics. It is concluded that descriptions of households do contain commonly used facets that together construct the concept of household as a group of people sharing resources, expenditures and activities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)498-506
JournalInternational Journal of Consumer Studies
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • rural households
  • forest products
  • time allocation
  • income
  • work
  • care
  • consumption
  • family
  • framework
  • health

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Defining and using the concept of household: a systematic review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this