Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

Handbook of World Families

Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

Handbook of World Families

Article excerpt

Bert N. Adams and Jan Trost (Eds.). HANDBOOK OF WORLD FAMILIES. New Delhi: Sage Publications, Inc., 2005. 664pp. Price: US $125.00 (hc). ISBN: 9780761927631 (hc).

Reviewed by: GEORGE KURIAN*

Professor Bert N. Adams, University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA, and Professor Jan Trost, Upsalla University, Sweden, have jointly edited this comprehensive volume of family life in 25 countries in Africa, Asia and South Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and North America. This book is organized from a comparative perspective which is not an easy task by any measure. To achieve this aim, according to them, "At the outset of this project we determined that to make it comparative, the format or outline of the chapters should be identical, or almost so." (p. x) Those scholars, who are looking for comparison, could look at identical sections in particular family systems, like Chinese family formation with that of India, or divorce in India compared to the United States. There are 11 sub-tides which the authors were expected to follow when discussing a particular family system. These sections are 1. Introduction; 2. Family Formation (or Pairing Up/Mate Selection); 3. Fertility and Socialization; 4. Gender; 5. Marriage; 6. Stresses and Violence; 7. Divorce and Remarriage; 8. Kinship; 9. Aging and Death; 10. Family and other Institutions; and 11. Special Topics.

This type of directive to the authors is a bold attempt in comparison. I find the plan by-andlarge successful. The editors are well aware of the difficulties in comparing various family systems. With their decades of experience, the combined effort of these scholars has produced a most useful source for scholars in comparative family studies.

The guidelines suggested are always easy to follow as can be observed from discussion of some of the family systems. As a student of family in India, I had a careful perusal of Prof. J.P. Singh's description of the contemporary Indian family. I am very cautious about attempting to write about family in India which represents several family systems separated by different languages representing various sub-cultures. Within India, mere are patrilineal family types representing the majority. There are areas where matrilineal systems continue to exist. While Prof. Singh's attempt is fairly successful, there are observations which are generalizations about some areas. …

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