Families in Iran: Changes, Challenges and Future

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Family, as an institute, together with religion and politics, has always been a building block of Iranian society. Even considering the institutional development in Iran since the beginning of the 20th century, the three mentioned institutions have always shaped Iranian society structure and social relationships. Throughout the past two centuries, Iranian families have undergone significant changes due to the cultural, social, and political regeneration processes. These changes in the family have not only been reflected on day-by-day lives but have also been quite effective in relationship strategies among various institutions. Family has neither only changed its extensive form nor found a nuclear shape but it has also included emotional relationships. However, such families are facing major challenges such as increase in divorce rate, delayed age of marriage, distress of marriage and intergenerational challenges. Thus, this present essay focuses on the following issues: Research methods for studying families; the history of families and historical changes that have taken place through different periods; characteristics of Iranian families; changes in families; generation and family; marriage and changes associated with it; challenges and problems that families may encounter including divorce, destruction and the future of the family in Iran.

STUDY ON FAMILY

A social study on family is of a substantially high significance compared to other social issues and institutions, both due to the status of this institution among humanistic and Iranian societies and also because of the role it plays in modernizing individuals in Iran. Identification of history, changes and all problems in a complexity are associated with family. Thus various approaches have been introduced in studies on Iranian Family.

1. The first approach is more cultural and ethical. It results from a vulnerable atmosphere prevailing over the society has forced many people to defend the Islamic Iranian family against various critical conditions. Thus numerous text books on families in Iran cover subjects such as "Family and secrets of happiness" "Islamic view on family", "Youth and family formation", "Women and men's problems", "Youth and family", "Problems of marriage", which have been prepared and published since 1951. These books adopt an advisory and ethical approach in reflecting positive aspects of family relationships and its harms (BAHAR, 2005);

2. The second approach may be referred according to Salon Sociology. In Salon Sociology or market Sociology, issues cover wide topics and all participants are regarded as experts and authorities. However, in professional sociology only individuals with necessary skills and who are expertises on related fields have authority and opportunity to offer their opinion on families. In this approach, most obvious matters are taken for granted and there is no need for research and inspection. Taking for granted--issues such as family crisis, perversion from women and girls, disobedience from girls and boys against their families, increase in divorce rate ... on one hand and family health, mutual respect between parents and children and (?)... On the other hand, it comprises two differing judgments about Salon Sociology point of view related to family, those with bitter and unsuccessful experiences, talking about problems associated with family and those with pleasant experiences on marriage and family regarding it as healthy. In the year 2002, public media and newspapers reflected that society is facing a new phenomenon called street women and girls and it was so reflected that all women and girls living in cities were seen as perverted;

3. The third is a professional and scientific approach. Systematic and scientific researches on Iranian family started since 1958 with the establishment of social research and studies center of Tehran University, college of Social Studies, and they have continued throughout more than four decades. …