Family and Marriage

Family and Marriage

Family and Marriage

Family and Marriage

Excerpt

One of the oldest among human institutions, the family, is also the most resilient. Through the centuries it has assumed many different forms, and each form has been valiantly defended as the right one, if not the most suitable one. From one part of the world to another, we still find diverse forms of the family. But, however different the forms may be, its essential functions are the same, or its functions through the differing cultures are tending to be the same, due to certain world-wide processes like industrialisation and urbanisation. Whatever the form of the family to-day, whether we study it in one region or another, it is found to be virile still and this in spite of the fears of many for its future. The fears regarding its future are not unlike the fears that may arise for any social institution in the process of change. Actually and understandably, the family has survived many changes in the past and continues to fulfil its essential functions despite the fact that various social agencies are competing with it.

Theoretically speaking, one could consider the family in its structure and dynamics as a system by itself, or in its wider ramifications with society and culture via socialisation and personality formation. A controversy has been raging as to the universality of the family. Which family? Even the elementary family cannot be easily said to be universal, if we bear in mind the case of fraternal polyandry in Tibet or elsewhere. If some type of family living, if some marriage form is universal, that is yet to be defined and its extensions and involvements yet to be worked out. An important area of family research, namely, the cyclical development of different types of families, is largely neglected. No satisfactory theory has yet been found to explain the impact of industrialisation and urbanisation on the family and its articulation with society. The swing towards lower age at marriage in the Western societies and the opposite trend in the East are yet to be adequately comprehended theoretically, with flashbacks to the past centuries. One may reasonably expect that comparative cross-cultural studies can take us nearer the goal of universally valid theory formation, if indeed such universal theory formulation in social sciences is not a fond hope!

The articles presented here, that were published in a special number of the International Journal of Comparative Sociology (Vol. III. No. 1) are focussed on family and marriage in our changing civilization. Our attention is called to . . .

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