City Lights; the Impact of Rural-Urban Migration

By Atal, Yogesh | UNESCO Courier, September 1985 | Go to article overview

City Lights; the Impact of Rural-Urban Migration


Atal, Yogesh, UNESCO Courier


The phenomenon of migration is a major factor in social change. It affects not only those places that receive migrants, but also those that send them. In one type of migration, a member of the family migrates temporarily to a different place, moves between the place of origin and the place of migration, and treats the former as the reference point to which he ultimately plans to return.

Migration from a rural to an urban area, which is usually motivated by the need to find work, makes heavy demands on the members of the family back home. It means that women have to undertake certain tasks they did not previously perform and thus involves a rearrangement of the family time-table. It influences the socialization pattern of children and may result in a series of psychological problems. It affects social life within the family as well as relations outside.

The effect of these changes varies from family to family and from culture to culture. Response to male migration is different in families in which the son has migrated from those in which the father has migrated. In families in which the migrant has the dual status of son and husband the impact of his migration is felt differently.

A cross-cultural study of migration has indicated that migration increases family income, raises the standard of living somewhat and adds in varying proportions to the responsibilities of female family members. Some urban elements enter into the inventory of the material culture of the home.

Contrary to common belief, migration and exposure to modernity may serve to cement the bonds of kinship and to reinforce tradition. It is through the network of kinship that people move into the city and, once there, they continue to move in the kinship and village circle. Back home, the degree of dependence on kinsmen increases with the departure of the male to the town. The authority structure changes very little; the patriarchal ethos is pervasive. Family reunions generally coincide with religious festivals and ceremonial occasions and it is still the husband who takes major decisions or gives the seal of his approval, and in his absence the other senior male members of the family act as guardians. …

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