Essay on Recent Trends in the Modern Nuclear Family – The family has undergone some radical changes in the past half a century. Its structure has changed, its functions have been altered and its nature has been affected.
Various factors-social, economic, educational, legal, cultural, scientific, technological, etc. have been responsible for this. It is, indeed, difficult to analyse the recent trends in the family and to account for its causes. Still, a few significant trends may be noted:
The Industrial Revolution of the 18th century and the consequent birth of the factory system of production affected the economic functions of the family. Family transferred its economic functions to the factory and became more a consumption unit than a productive centre.
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Industrialisation and urbanisation very often go together. Cities are growing in size and in number. Family is cut to size. Families are now the smallest, and home ties are the weakest. Trends towards disorganisation are set in motion.
(iii) Democratic Ideals:
Democratic ideals and values are in currency today. Democracy assures equality and provides liberty to all, to women too! Women now play not only domestic roles but also economic and political roles. They have now become property owners and business managers. They have the voting power and with it, they have entered politics. The world has already witnessed four women prime ministers.
(iv) The Decline of the Influence of Mores and the Religious Beliefs, and the Spread of Secular Attitude. Morality and religion are slowly losing grounds. Family members have become more secular in outlook. The religious functions of the family have diminished. Religious sentiments, beliefs and attitudes have come to be dissociated with the family.
(v) The Spirit of Individualism and Romantic Love:
Today individualism and romanticism are widespread. Their very spirit has destroyed the authority of the family over the individual members Individualism has affected love-making and marriage. Romanticism has encouraged the idea of free choice of mates on the basis of love. Marriage has become as easily dissolvable as it is entered into by a mutual consent of the partners.
(vi) Economic Independence of Women:
Employment opportunities are thrown open for women also. The woman has become now the earning member. She now works in offices, factories, banks, schools, colleges, hospitals, administrative offices, ministries, etc. The economic independence has increased her status, but affected her attitude. The age-old doctrine men for the field and women for the kitchen—is exploded.
(vii) Emancipation of Women:
Women are now liberated from the chains of traditionalism. They stand on an equal footing with men. Aggressive leaders of the Woman’s Liberation Movement have attacked the double standard of morality. They are demanding more rights and liberty for women.
(viii) Decline in Birth Rate:
The size of the family is becoming smaller. Joint family is fairly uncommon. The birth rate is adversely affected. Absence of children is a glaring feaftire of the Western families.
Today, more stress is laid on romantic love. “Love is no more sacramental” now. In the West, Love at first sight and divorce at next is quite common. Instances of divorce, desertion and separation are mounting in the West. Marriage has become a civil contract only.
(x) Parent-Youth Conflict:
Inter-personal conflicts in the family are increasing. An unusual amount of conflicts between parents and their adolescent children is taking place. This is often denoted in terms of the generation gap.
Many sociologists have expressed their grave concern regarding the rapid changes that are taking place in it. Some have said that “family has gone to the dogs” while some others lamented that family is heading towards disorganisation. But it would be more appropriate to say that “It (family) is merely seeking to adopt itself to changed conditions”.