Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Modern society Essay

The modern family is obviously in many ways different from the traditional family types that existed in the past. A number of trends are at work nowadays shaping the modern, or, as some scholars put it, post-modern family (United Nations University). These factors affect the basic foundations of the family and reconfigure the roles of all members of this institution, receiving different evaluations of psychologists, economists, and sociologists. Professor Yount from Emory University notes that modern American families have undergone a dramatic sociological change in the past decades. Thus, the size of household declined among Caucasians and African Americans and rose among Hispanics, the â€Å"percentage of households headed by married couples declined from 78 percent to 53 percent in the period from 1950 to 1998† (Yount, 2005). In addition, the proportion of dual-earning couples has increased significantly, creating a new economic reality (Yount, 2005). Today, the woman is increasingly contributing as much as or even more than the man to the family budget, a fact that has implications for her economic role in the family. A woman is more likely to remain financially independent after divorce or even lose money in divorce proceedings to her husband. This has positive implications for children that are less likely to remain without support after the parents’ separation and benefits the society, creating a new workforce pool. Against this background a noticeable trend is certainly an alarming divorce rate. In a certain sense, this trend works against growing importance of women as bread winners, contributing to insecurity of children’s well-being and putting heavy financial pressure on spouses that take custody of children. On the other hand, divorce rates are connected to â€Å"the new level of women’s involvement in the workplace, as well as modernization of women’s roles in general† (Swanson 2004:1). In a sense, divorce is the result of growing egalitarianism in family relations, a trend clear from the psychological perspective. Families become more and more egalitarian in the sense that younger and older members, women and men are achieving a more equal status in many ways. However, Swanson (2004) also points out that perfect egalitarianism remains elusive. Most men and women aspiring to build egalitarian families in the times of their courtship face a reality in which they cannot attain this desired ideal and instead lapse into traditional rigid gender roles. This becomes even more of a problem with childbirth. Although men tend to have a greater role in parenting than before, women are still responsible for most of it, and it tends to re-shape the roles in the family toward greater participation of the woman in household duties and increases her workload relative to that of the man. Thus, a study conducted in Switzerland â€Å"reveals some moderate tendencies towards less sex typing of task allocation in such items as administrative contacts, gifts, holidays, cleaning, but there seems to be a hard core of tasks showing very little change (cooking meals, washing)† (Levy, Widmer, Kellerhals 2002). There are many other changes obvious in the psychological realm. Values and priorities in family life are undergoing a constant change. United Nations University in its article on the post-modern family notes that today’s families see â€Å"optional participation in most aspects of communal life, high levels of privacy and choice† as opposed to â€Å"compulsory participation in all aspects of communal life, lack of privacy and personal choice†. Because of lower level of required participation in communal activities, people experience a shift in the nature of identity, often associating themselves with a greater number of fluid social groups. Values become less constant, and social roles are changing. One interesting trend pointed out by Professor Gillis of Rutgers University is the growing virtual character of people’s connections with home. Many spend little time at the place associated with their home, something underscored by the fact that â€Å"homemade† and â€Å"homecooked† is likely to be made anywhere but at home† (Gillis 2000:7). On the other hand, modern communication possibilities in the form of Internet, cheaper long-distance calling and other ways allow for greater connection with relatively remote places. This creates prerequisites for a deep psychological change in the mentality of people who feel at the same time estranged and closer to their relatives who they see less frequently, but can communicate with from a distance. A word should also be said about the emergence of non-traditional households, starting from cohabitation prior to marriage that can now last decades to homosexual households and those including several couples. Welcomed or abhorred, these families also have a presence in the modern society. As to homosexual couples, we see these days a clear trend toward legitimizing these relationships. This can have far-reaching consequences for modern families. There is a greater scope of opportunities for adoption of children, greater security for members of such families that previously lacked social security, and other economic and social advantages. However, there is also an opinion that the prevalence of these arrangements destroys the foundations of the regular family. Thus, families nowadays undergo a profound change that occurs on sociological, psychological, and economic plane. Most often, these planes prove to be deeply interconnected in many ways. Thus, divorce has roots in growing egalitarianism and shift of values that affect the psychology of young people who get married. On the other hand, it has profound economic ramifications, creating instability and jeopardizing the financial well-being of women and children in most cases. Overall, the modern family demonstrates many trends, increasingly exhibiting diversity and fluidity in definition of patterns and values. Bibliography Gillis, John R. â€Å"Our Virtual Families: Toward a Cultural Understanding of Modern Family Life†. Emory University’s Center on Myth and Ritual in American Life Newletter Working Paper No. 2 (2000). 19 November 2006 . Levy, Rene, Widmer, Eric, and Jean Kellerhals. â€Å"Modern family or modernized family traditionalism? : Master status and the gender order in Switzerland†. Electronic Journal of Sociology (2002): Universite de Lausanne. 19 November 2006 .

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