Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

Czech and Slovak Family Patterns and Family Values in Historical, Social and Cultural Context

Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

Czech and Slovak Family Patterns and Family Values in Historical, Social and Cultural Context

Article excerpt


The family has long been regarded as a stable and essentially unchanged institution that does not alter its shape, internal organization or habits and changes in their environment offsets. However, family-like other social institutions-is changing (Tamásová, 2007). These changes are connected with many factors, among which changes in family standards and lifestyle, changes of a woman's role, and changes of views on child-rearing are the most significant.

I regard family as a psycho-physical phenomenon, because family consists of people of different sex, age, and temperament patterns, etc. Family is also a social phenomenon, because it is part of the society and this or that type of society is very closely connected with the historical stages of the mankind development: feudalism, capitalism, socialism, and so on. It is a spiritual phenomenon due to the important role of religion, as well as the moral and spiritual education of children. It can be treated as a cultural-historical phenomenon, because every generation has its own culture and system of family values. In fact, this division is relative, because gender roles are very closely related to the social aspect and types of society development, and are part of world history. Yet, this approach gives an opportunity to find out which of these questions are crucial ones. As the object of my research I have chosen family patterns in the Czech Republic and Slovakia that used to be one state and parted in 1989.

This article presents the analysis of different approaches expressed by scholars (mainly psychologists, historians, ethnologists, and demographists), journalists and writers. This complex study lays bare the problems connected with the psycho-physical, social, spiritual and cultural-historical aspects of family studies, and it provides for seeing how family problems are reflected not only in serious research projects and monographs, but also in the mass media and modern Czech and Slovak fiction. I will present various points of view on family problems, but in my study the accent is made on the works by the Czech and Slovak authors published mainly in their native languages. With the help of statistic data aanalysis presented in the Tables and Graphs, I intend to show the demographic situation in the former Czechoslovakia and then in ten and twenty years after its disintegration.

Czech and Slovak families follow the Eastern European family patterns, but one must take into account that any family pattern is greatly connected with the peculiarities of natural environment and, correspondingly, with the economic situation of Eastern European countries. Referred to as Eastern European families are here the family patterns occurring in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Rumania, Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, and Macedonia that have much in common. The Polish family pattern has some specificity, though it could be referred to as Eastern European type as well. A special group is formed by families in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina belonging to the system of Muslim civilization, which leaves its specific mark on the family patterns in these countries. Slovene, Croatian, Czech and Slovak families are hardly to be related as belonging to Eastern European families, because they belong to the European catholic civilization with a corresponding specific character. One should bear in mind that in all the above mentioned Eastern European countries there existed essential differences between family patterns, evoked by the differences in their history, environment, and the peculiarities of their economic development.


A few words should be said about the so-called Hajnal's line. The British scholar J. Hajnal (1965) distinguished two basic models of family history-Northwestern and Southeastern, which, according to him, were established sometime in the early 16'h century. The dividing border was between Trieste and St. …

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