In Brazil, the family has been occupying a central place in public policies, mainly in the health sector, through Estratégia Saúde da Família (ESF - Family Health Strategy). This centralization is the result of a historical and cultural process of significations which, at times, created regulations over the family. In this process, the ESF workers exist as social actors who construct their practices and concepts about families within a social reality permeated with contradictions. Considering Social Representations as an instrument to identify a social reality, this study uses this approach to describe the social representations of family constructed by ESF workers. The study was carried out in a primary health care unit located in the periphery of São Paulo, with a representative from each of the professional categories that compose the family health care teams. The analyzed material demonstrated limitations in the training process of the workers regarding the family and community theme. The representations show a wider view of family configurations, but an underestimation of the less privileged class is noted. These representations are permeated with feelings of anxiety, principally when the families referred to are the ones followed up by the ESF. However, possibilities to construct efficient health care projects can exist if there is investment in the training of these professionals, since health care workers are not indifferent to the health needs of the families that are assisted by the ESF.
Family; Social Representation; Family Health Strategy; Family Health Strategy Workers