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Summary of Sociologists Studies of the Family in India

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"The family is a unique institution in that it is at one and the same time both a private and a visibly public institution . It oscillates between the most intimate to the most public in its various contexts ." In common english parlance the word 'family' is used in several different senses. Firstly, it is considered as the "household ,the body of persons who love in one house or under one head ,including parents, children, servants etc." ,secondly as "The group consisting of parents and their children ,whether living together or not ." Thirdly " In wider senses ,all those who are nearly related by blood and affinity ." Lastly ,"Those descended or claiming descent from a common ancestor, a house, kindred, lineage." The four social institutions are clearly related to each other, but they should be clearly distinguished from each other.Tulsi Patel notes that it was then the terms "domestic group" and "household " were introduced as they provided a processual view of the family . ...read more.


each of the members.Only a few writings on Indian family refer to incomplete elementary families such as that of Cohn ,Nicholas etc . On the other hand, "Joint Family" means ' two or more elementary families joined together.' It is called patrilinear family when based on the principle of descent, and matrilinear joint family when based on the principle of matrilinear descent . Frequently the term 'extended family 'is used in the place of 'joint family .' In detail the patrilineal extended family is based on an extension of father-son relationship , and the matrilineal extended family on an extension of mother-daughter relationship . Today the problem that arises is that what is the limit of extension of patrilineal descent in the formation of joint or extended family? To which some like J.D Mayne has answered "there can be no limit to the number of persons of whom a hindu joint family consists..." whereas in many writings the term 'generation ' is used to define the limit of extension. ...read more.


Coming back to A.M Shah ,he then attempts to examine these beliefs about the traditional Indian family because a proper understanding of the social change requires a proper understanding of the past. However, Kapadia (1956) has interestingly, called attention to a possible change in the type of joint family. The traditional joint family he points out, consists of the head , his brothers and grandsons whereas the modern joint family comprises the head, his sons and grandsons .The reason for this shift is mainly due to the pace with which industrialization is taking place even though its not as fast as the west. But there are some like Henry Orenstein who has used the census to contradict it. He presents figures to show that the average size of the household rather then decreasing has very slightly increasing. Thus, maintaining that the modern processes of westernization, industrialization have not brought about the so-called disintegration of large and joint families. SOURCES: The family in India: structure and practice By Tulsi Patel The family in India: critical essays By A. M. Shah ...read more.

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