“For many centuries the family has been the main unit of social relations. The traditional father, mother, and children dynamics have served as the fundamental basis of the definition of a family. However, sociologists have continued to rely on the direct relationship between the essential members of this nuclear unit of society until recent changes disrupted it. Modern “influences such as homosexuality and increased divorce have continued to redefine the family leading to the emergence of newer definitions that differentiate themselves from the traditional one completely” (Wooldridge 201). However, the main observation as this paper shall demonstrate is that the modern view of the family is slightly different from the traditional one.
For many ages, the definition of family has been the relationship shared between the most basic units of society. A typical couple would fall in love, get married, and then get children resulting in the formation of the family. The same definitions would extend to the members of the two families from where the father and mother came. Such views on the meaning of the family led to the formation of tight bonds between these members, especially those in the nuclear family consisting of the father’s mother and the resulting children. Interestingly, the members of both families would extend kinship due to the union of the two members of their families. The new relations would lead to the formation of extended families, a characteristic of social bonding between different members of society.
However, recent pressures have changed these definitions resulting in the erosion of the first bond that held the members of the family together. The factors that threaten the traditional definition of the family include human-made and natural incidents that often destroy the underlying bond. The resulting fragments of the family are left to their own devices and due to the usual tendency of a human being to desire the social and emotional relationship, seek out opportunities to form new families.
Synthetic Factors that Destroy Traditional Families
The decay of morality in modern society has led to many issues impacting on the family unit. Interestingly, this degradation, which has emanated from social development and evolution, has also led to the creation of new families that do not conform to the traditional definition of family. Infidelity is on the rise according to research as the principal constituents of the nuclear family, father, and mother, succumb to the increased pressures of adultery and philandering. Sociologists have tried to understand the increasingly high rate of family-related decay. Still, other than the pressure from modernization and reduced consciousness of supporting factors such as culture and religion, have come up short of answers.
Issues related to polygamy have been fluctuating for millennia influenced by the development of legal constraints and religious factors. Long ago, men would marry as many wives as their ability to care for them would allow resulting in huge families consisting of co-wives and half-brothers and half-sisters. However, the spread of Christianity and Western lifestyles through exploration and colonization forced society to drop the practices that contradicted the Bible and Western lifestyle. Therefore, the cultural forces that Western culture and religion introduced into the traditional family destroyed it and reduced the same to newer forms that conform to the civilized definition, which conforms to religious laws.
The industrialization of Britain led to a massive migration of labourers from the rural regions to the urban ones due to labour demands. These labourers had to leave their families in rural areas to earn a living in these areas. Unfortunately, the extended periods away from home eroded the emotional bond between the members of the family in the rural area and those working in the urban factories. Such economic factors have continued to undermine the definition of the modern family up to date as the roles of the family heads shift under the absence of the pressure from home causes (Prasad 81). The emotional burden and separation impose tension on the family members, where some result to alternative forms of respite such as adultery and alcoholism. With the adoption of such destructive alternatives, the family stands little chances of survival.
Natural Factors that Destroy the Traditional Family
The death of any of the two main pillars of the family; the mother or father, results in considerable changes in the structure of the family. The parent who remains with children has to compensate for the absent spouse that is a tough job especially with young childreAlzheimer’sthese single parents victim’ so remarry to regain the companionship and support of the life mate in addition to obtaining assistance with the family. Therefore, death usually deals a massive blow to the traditional definition of family.
Some of the diseases that modern human being has to face have a society affect on the conventional definition of the family. While they do not necessarily pluck the affected member of the family as death does, the level of incapacitation has somewhat similar consequences to the family life. Strokes and brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s Syndrome affect the victim’s ability to coordinate their activities and interaction with even the most critical member of their families, resulting in strained relationships that sometimes collapse altogether.
The Contemporary Family
The society’s view of the family has changed from a functionalist one to a descriptive one. The traditional family was more about the functions and roles in society that related members could play; however, the contemporary one has other features. With the pressures of divorce, death, and separation, the remaining fragments of the initial family have learned to cope by forming new bonds. These bonds are formed with existing families or other fragmented ones resulting in new families with unique characteristics (Schwartz 429).
There are new types of families that have evolved from these contemporary views of the family. Based on biological, psychological, and legal factors, these families do not conform to the traditional characteristics of the family but do continue to offer an almost similar environment. Issues such as remarriage, divorce, separation, polygamy, and homos”xuality have led to the emergence of new for”s of families whose role of more descriptive that it is functional. Homosexuality has had the”most profound effect on the family due” to the radical changes it introduces to the components. When two men or two”en decide to marry, adopt children, and call i” a family, the ramifications of the traditional definitions of marriage are profound. However, in the spirit of tolerance and equality, modern society has nothing it can do other than watch as the meaning of the family continues to evolve.
- Prasad, Narendra. “Women Entrepreneurship Development in India.” Women and Development. New Delhi: A P H Publishing Corp, 2007. 81. Print.
- Schwartz, Lita L. “What is a family? a contemporary view.” Springer Link 15.6 (1993): 429. Web. 21 Apr. 2015.
- Wooldridge, Jeffrey. “Regression Analysis with Cross-sectional Data.” Introductory Econometrics: A Modern Approach Upper-Level Economics Titles Series. San Diego: Cengage Learning, 2012. 201. Print.