Academic journal article Demographic Research

Family Life and Developmental Idealism in Yazd, Iran

Academic journal article Demographic Research

Family Life and Developmental Idealism in Yazd, Iran

Article excerpt

Abstract

BACKGROUND

This paper is motivated by the theory that developmental idealism has been disseminated globally and has become an international force for family and demographic change. Developmental idealism is a set of cultural beliefs and values about development and how development relates to family and demographic behavior. It holds that modern societies are causal forces producing modern families, that modern families help to produce modern societies, and that change is to be expected in the direction of the modern family.

OBJECTIVE

We examine the extent to which developmental idealism has been disseminated in Iran. We also investigate predictors of the dissemination of developmental idealism.

METHODS

We use survey data collected in 2007 from a sample of women in Yazd, a city in Iran. We examine the distribution of developmental idealism in the sample and the multivariate predictors of developmental idealism.

RESULTS

We find considerable support for the expectation that many elements of developmental idealism have been widely disseminated. Statistically significant majorities associate development with particular family attributes, believe that development causes change in families, believe that fertility reductions and age-at-marriage increases help foster development, and perceive family trends in Iran headed toward modernity. As predicted, parental education, respondent education, and income affect adherence to developmental idealism.

COMMENTS

Although our data come from only one city, we expect that developmental idealism has been widely distributed in Iran, with important implications for family and demographic behavior.

1. Introduction

In this paper we investigate the extent to which the beliefs and values of developmental idealism have been disseminated in one city of Iran. Our research is motivated by Thornton's (2001, 2005) theory that developmental idealism has been disseminated globally and has become an important force for family and demographic change. Developmental idealism is a set of cultural beliefs and values about development and how development relates to family and demographic behavior. It grows out of the modernization/development framework that has dominated much of social science and public policy for centuries (Mandelbaum 1971; Nisbet 1975/1969). Although the modernization/development model has, for many reasons, been heavily criticized recently as an academic and policy framework, its influence remains far-reaching in academia and public policy (Mandelbaum 1971; Nisbet 1975/1969; Wallerstein 1991).

The modernization model has for centuries posited societies as occupying different positions along a developmental ladder, with northwest Europe and its diasporas identified as modern or developed and other countries defined as traditional or less developed. The model tells people that they live in a dynamic world, with change moving from tradition towards modernity. The model specifies that the good life is found in northwest Europe and its overseas populations and that less-developed societies should model more advanced ones.

Developmental idealism draws from this modernization framework beliefs and values for living in the world. It states that societal attributes defined as modern are good and include such things as urban living, industrial production, and high levels of education and wealth. It also indicates that modern families are good and labels the following attributes as modern: individualism, autonomy of children, marriages arranged at mature ages by the prospective bride and groom, romantic love, nuclear families, equality between women and men, and planned and low fertility. In addition, several aspects of personal and family life such as divorce and non-marital sex, non-marital cohabitation, and non-marital childbearing have become associated with modernity in recent decades, although they are often seen as negative rather than positive. …

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