The Joint Family
The family is the basic unit of society. It is a universal phenomenon that prevails in every society, yet there are vast differences in its structure from one society to another.
In tribal rural and agrarian societies, joint family still exists. People of several generations live together under one roof, sharing their joys and sorrows. However, the scenario has changed in the urban areas. The joint family has been replaced by what sociologists call ‘nuclear family’ that comprises husband, wife and their children.
What is responsible for the joint family system being replaced by the individualistic or nuclear family? There are a number of factors that have led to the erosion of this time-tested social entity. Industrialization, migration to cities, revolution in transport and communication, etc., has led to the (destruction of traditional family structure. Similarly, women’s economic independence has also brought about changes in family and marriage.
Joint family as a social institution, has declined considerably, because the roles of the family have been taken over by others, the state, school, hospital, teacher, etc. The socialistic state has taken-over, partly, the function of looking after the old and the physically-challenged. Financial solidarity has been adversely affected by the individualistic ideology, where marriages are the result of mutual attraction or decision, rather than a union of families. Wage-based livelihood, where people rely on their personal income rather than the resources of the family, have probably, to some extent, made a joint family redundant. Occupational needs take people far from their families to seek jobs in cities, diminishing the fabric of the family. What had,, further ruined the structure of the joint family is the attitudinal change, where people desire greater independence and less interference. I Therefore, they break away from joint families.
A nuclear family is not without its advantages. It I offers independence; privacy and scope to live according to one’s own ideas, without any intrusion or interference, although it breeds a host of other problems.
Most women in cities are working, thus leading to the problem of the upbringing of children, who are left in the care of domestic help or in day-care centres, which do not essentially provide’ the necessary emotional environment conducive to healthy growth of a child. It is seen that many a time couples seek the help of their parents. Thus, the necessity of a joint family is again being felt in the urban system, which surely provided more security emotional, psychological, physical and economics.