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Introduction to Sociology

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Introduction to Sociology ­ SOC101
VU
Lesson 29
FAMILY AND MARRIAGE IN TRANSITION
There is a great diversity in the family and marriage arrangements. The globalization of societies, and with
the emerging chances in Pakistani society one could expect further variations in this institution. Pakistani
society is certainly experiencing the changing trend toward industrial-urban way of life. Every third person
in Pakistan is presently living in a locality, which has been declared as urban; thereby these urbanites are
likely to experience diversities around. A variety of social and economic forces become instrumental in the
erosion of traditional family and marriage values. We are trying to hold on to the sacred values of this
institution, though we cannot ignore the secular inroads that are already taking place. Are these positive
developments or are these threatening? Nevertheless, the dramatic changes in the social norms and values
have transformed the family life. Though we do not have empirical evidence to support the observed
changes yet it may be worth mentioning and it might generate curiosity for future research. Therefore, let us
look at some of he changes that are being experienced by the family and marriage nationally and
internationally.
1.
Family is losing functions. Except for procreation of children, for all other functions it
appears that other institutions are taken over the traditional functions of the family. In the
developed countries families have accepted such a take-over whereas in Pakistan such a change
is fast coming. For example educational institutions and mass media of communication are
becoming powerful agents of socialization of children. Health care, matrimonial arrangements,
maternal services, and many other family responsibilities are being taken over by professionals.
We are heading towards a situation where right from the birth till our burial the whole of our
life is likely to be handled by the professional functionaries.
2.
Families are exerting less influence over the lives of their members. Modern society is an
"other directed" society where the behavior of a person is much influenced by the peer group
(contemporaries) who is found outside of the family. Of course the families try to have a
control on the kinds of friends their children are likely to have but the variety of peers the
children come across while out in school may be beyond the limits of families. Nevertheless,
these very peer groups might become strengths for the socialization of children. Such a
situation might be well experienced by the families where both the parents are working. Even
these parents are likely to pick up many of their styles of life from outside.
3.
Shift toward nuclear/conjugal families. As an outcome of empirical regularity, there is a
postulated universality of nuclear family. As the traditional family systems break down, though
with different speed, in industrial society hiring is on the basis of competency; efficiency is
measured by individual performance; job market requires mobility; none of these requirements
need strong kinship network. Industrializing societies create their other formal agencies to
replace help from kinship networks. Individuals have independent careers, and "go their own
way" ignoring extended kinship ties. Even in stress nuclear family appears to be quite
responsive to provide emotional support.
4.
Kin networking fading and being replaced by friends networking. People either depend
on their own self or on their social capital of friends.
5.
Declining size of families. With the societies moving towards modernization, there is a
decline in the fertility of women. In Pakistan from 6.3 children per woman in the 1970 we have
come down to around 4 children per woman in 2004. Some of the reasons could be: the rise in
age at first marriage; decline in infant mortality (140/1000 live births in 1970 to around
85/1000 in 2004); increasing number of women especially older women not desiring to get
pregnant and younger wanting to space births; decline in desired family size; use of
contraceptives. All these reasons may have strong link with the education of families.
6.
The rise of symmetrical families. There is an increase in dual earner families. One could find
a trend in the families where both husband and wife are working and sharing the household
work. Or if the wife is busy in the second shift at home, the husband might also be having a
second job.
Patriarchy on the decline. As the proportion of dual earners marriages continues to increase,
7.
women's financial dependence on their husbands declines, leading to a decline in patriarchy. In
70
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Introduction to Sociology ­ SOC101
VU
the changing scenario instead of centralized decision making, families are moving towards
shared decision making. Hence patriarchy gives way to egalitarianism.
8.
Arranged marriages are being replaced by `marriages of inclination'. Traditionally
marriages of children were arranged by their parents, but now youngsters are trying to exert
their personal choices in their matrimony.
9.
In the Western societies alternative marriage arrangements are on the increase. For
example common law marriages (a marriage without marriage license) are on the increase.
10.
Women empowerment. There is a changing status of women due to increase in literacy and
in the levels of literacy, financial independence, and in their decision making power.
11.
Divorce rates have been increasing. There could be many reasons like:
 Individualism on the increase. People are looking for personal happiness.
 Romantic love often subsides. Marriages of inclination are relatively more vulnerable to
conflict and divorce.
 Women now are less dependent on men.
 Many of today's marriages are stressful. Since both husband and wife are working, their
jobs consume most of their time and energy, then, if they have to raise the children, there
is not enough time and energy left for each other.
 Presently divorce is becoming more socially accepted. It is no more considered a stigma.
 From legal stand point, divorce is becoming easier to obtain. Couple may not have to
resort to mud throwing on each other, so the couple decides and the court allows.
12.
Lone old parent families on the increase. The institution of family as the shelter for the
aged is gradually eroding. As the children grow up they, in search of their livelihood, head for
new destinations leaving their senior citizens in the empty nest. Here one could find a big gap
between the real and ideal value about caring the old people. Even the alternatives like the
community support, nursing homes have not emerged. The plight of single women, widows,
and the sick persons is high. We have added years to life but not life to added years.
13.
Awareness of family violence has increased. May be in the changing situation family
violence has also increased.
14.
The number of elderly marriages and remarriages is increasing. The people deciding to
get married in their old age don't feel shy anymore. Rather than leading a lonely life in case of
their being divorced or widowed, the elderly decide to get married. Since divorce does not
appear to be a stigma, therefore, divorcees don't feel hesitant to remarry.
15.
Monogamy presumably becoming universal. There might be an increase in remarriages
but the individuals are restricting themselves to one union at a time. So people marry, divorce,
and remarry, but at time a person is married to only one partner, which may be called as serial
monogamy.
71
Table of Contents:
  1. THE ORIGINS OF SOCIOLOGY:Auguste Comte, The Fields of Sociology
  2. THE SOCIOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE:Society affects what we do
  3. THEORETICAL PARADIGMS:Salient Paradigms, Critical Evaluation
  4. SOCIOLOGY AS SCIENCE:Empirical, Verifiable, Cumulative, Self-Correcting
  5. STEPS IN SOCIOLOGICAL INVESTIGATION:Exploration/Consultation
  6. SOCIAL INTERACTION:Social Status, ROLE, The Social Construction of Reality
  7. SOCIAL GROUPS:Primary and Secondary Groups, Reference Group, Networks
  8. ORGANIZATIONS:Utilitarian Organizations, Coercive Organizations
  9. CULTURE:Universality, Components of Culture, Symbols, Language
  10. CULTURE (continued):Beliefs, Norms, Cultural Diversity
  11. CULTURE (continued):Culture by social class, Multiculturalism, Cultural Lag
  12. SOCIALIZATION: HUMAN DEVELOPMENT, NATURE, Social Isolation
  13. UNDERSTANDING THE SOCIALIZATION PROCESS
  14. AGENTS OF SOCIALIZATION:The Family, The School, Peer Groups, The Mass Media
  15. SOCIALIZATION AND THE LIFE COURSE:CHILDHOOD, ADOLESCENCE
  16. SOCIAL CONTROL AND DEVIANCE:Crime, Deviants, Stigma, Labeling
  17. THE SOCIAL FOUNDATIONS OF DEVIANCE:Cultural relativity of deviance
  18. EXPLANATIONS OF CRIME:Sociological explanations
  19. EXPLANATIONS OF CRIME -- CONTINUED:White-Collar Crime, Conflict Theory
  20. SOCIAL DISTRIBUTION OF CRIME: EXPLANATIONS, Gender and Crime
  21. SOCIAL STRATIFICATION: INTRODUCTION AND SIGNIFICANCE
  22. THEORIES OF CLASS AND STRATIFICATION I:Critical evaluation
  23. THEORIES OF SOCIAL CLASS AND STRATIFICATION II
  24. THEORIES OF CLASS AND SOCIAL STRATIFICATION III
  25. SOCIAL CLASS AS SUBCULTURE
  26. SOCIAL MOBILITY:Structural factors, Individual factors, Costs
  27. THE FAMILY: GLOBAL VARIETY, Marriage Patterns, Patterns of Descent
  28. FUNCTIONS OF FAMILY:Reproduction, Social placement
  29. FAMILY AND MARRIAGE IN TRANSITION:Family is losing functions
  30. GENDER: A SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION, Gender socialization
  31. GENDER SOCIALIZATION:Role of family, Gender Stratification
  32. EXPLANATIONS OF GENDER INEQUALITY:Conflict Explanations, Feminism
  33. FUNCTIONS OF SCHOOLING:Cultural Innovation, School Tracking
  34. ISSUES IN EDUCATION:Low Enrollment, High Dropout, Gender Disparity
  35. POPULATION STUDY AND ITS SIGNIFICANCE:Crude Birth Rate
  36. THEORY OF POPULATION GROWTH:Theory of Demographic Transition
  37. POPULATION PROFILE OF PAKISTAN:World Population Growth
  38. POPULATION PROFILE OF PAKISTAN (Continued):Age Distribution, Sex Composition
  39. IMPLICAIONS OF POPULATION GOWTH:Additional GDP needed per year
  40. POPULATION POLICY:Goals of Population Policy, Objectives, Strategies
  41. ENVIRONMENT AND SOCIETY:Global Dimension, Historical Dimension
  42. ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES:Preserving Clean Water, Clearing the Air
  43. SOCIAL CHANGE:Social change is controversial.
  44. CAUSES OF SOCIAL CHANGE:Culture and Change, Conflict and Change, Modernization
  45. MODERNITY AND POST MODERNITY:Cultural Patterns, Post-modernity