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Structural Changes in the family

Relationship between husband and wife is based more on cooperation rather than domination and women are also playing an increasing role in decision-making. According to Parsons, nuclearization has strengthened conjugal bonds between husband and wife. Young and Willmott in their, “ The Symmetrical Family, 1975” saw family in terms of its evolution in four stages from pre-industrialization to the current form. Today symmetrical relations are a mark of husband and wife relations in the modern family and husband –wife relations are based on companionship. According to Goran Theborn, patriarchal power within family has generally declined over the 20th century. The world events like World Wars, Russian Revolution promoted the principle of egalitarianism, feminist movement of 1970s have altered the gender profiles and hence family structures. The children’s role in decision-making is increasing in the families. Both parents now play instrumental and emotional roles. According to Duncan Fletcher, people today expect more out of marital relations and hence more likely to end a relation which would have survived in the past. Edmund Leach says that emotional stress and tensions are so great that family often fails to bear it and conjugal bonds become fragile. In industrial society, due to rise of functional alternatives, families perform fewer functions and hence there are fewer bonds to unite. The authority of aged members in the family is decreasing. Individualism and achievement orientation has altered the authority structures within family. There is rise of non –institutionalized features like live-ins, single parent family etc which have altered the understanding of family as an institution. Family is no longer the classically understood institution comprising individuals of both the sexes. According to Parsons, industrialization has led to smaller family sizes which are geographically more mobile. Today families are also formed as results of love marriages .New legislations have improved the status of women and children. Women have more rights. Individuals are now freer to move separately. Polygamy is now outlawed due to legal restrain in most of the countries. Neolocal trend is replacing patrilocal patterns. Working couples move to new places where their jobs are located. It has also altered their relations with the traditional joint family. Cohabitations or live –ins, LGBT partnerships and single parent families are the newly emerging trends. Acceptance of same sex marriage has also upset the traditional definitions of the family. The social networking, cinema and traditional media have affected family in a profound manner. Women are now more educated and well informed than ever before. They are now actively resisting the compulsions and atrocities of a joint patriarchal family and are demanding equality of status in the household. Decline of religious control alters functions of family. As members start to question the prescribed roles, the functional character of the family changes.

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