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Essay on the Causes of Changes in Joint Family System

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1. Influence of Education:

Modern system of education introduced by the British Government affected joint family in several ways. It has brought about a change in the attitudes, beliefs, values and ideologies of the people.

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Education which is spreading even amongst the females has created and aroused the individualistic feelings. While the male literacy level has increased from 9.8% in 1901 to 55.7% in 1991, among the females it has increased from 0.6% to 30.09% during the same period.

The increasing education not only brings changes in the philosophy of life of men and women, but also provides new avenues of employment to the latter. After becoming economically independent, women demand more freedom in family affairs. They refuse to accept anybody’s dominance over them.

Education in this way brings changes in relations in the family. As the level of education rises, the percentage of those in favour of nuclear families increases and the percentage of those supporting joint family living, decreases.

2. Impact of Industrialisation:

Factory system of production, new system of organisation and management and new style of life has also affected the joint family. It has made young men and women leave their joint family to faraway places in search of better prospects and employment.

It has resulted in the breakdown of the link between the kinship and the occupational structure. Many of the traditional skills, crafts and household industries associated with the joint family have declined because of the onslaught of factory system of production.

Some important effects of industrialisation on joint family system may be noted here.

(i) The family which was a principal unit of production has been transformed into a consumption unit. Instead of all family members working together in an integrated economic enterprise, a few male members go out of the home to earn the family’s living. This affected family relations.

(ii) Factory employment has freed young adults from direct dependence upon their families. This financial independence of the youngsters has weakened the authority of the head of the house­hold over those earning members. In many cities even women too joined men in working outside the families on salary basis.

(iii) In the changed social situation children have ceased to be economic assets and have become liabilities. Children’s educational requirements have increased. They are to be supported for a very long time till they get into some good job.

(iv) Industrialisation separated the home from the work. This has made the working members to bear themselves all the burden and headache connected with their job. Their families can hardly lend support in this regard.

3. Influence of Urbanisation:

The phenomenon of urbanisation has become now widespread. Urban population is increasing steadily. In the mid-eighteenth century, around 10% of the population in India were urban residents. Their percentage increased to 36.19% in 1991. The studies made by Aileen Ross, M.S. Gore, Milton Singer and others have revealed that the city life is more favourable to small nuclear families than to big joint families.

On the basis of the studies made, it could be said that the urban living weakens joint family pattern and strengthens nuclear family patterns. Educated persons in urban areas are less in favour of joint family norms. Cities provide opportunities to women also for gainful employment and when woman starts earning, she seeks freedom in many spheres. She tries to break away more and more from her husband’s family of orientation. Urban residence thus seems to introduce a certain measure of variation in family pattern in our society.

4. Change in Marriage System:

Change in the age at marriage, freedom in mate-selection and change in the attitude towards marriage have also affected our family system. Modern young men and women not only marry at a late age but also take personal decision in this matter. They do not wait for parental permission.

Parents’ role in mate-selection has diminished. Marriage is not very much considered a religious affair but only a social ceremony. Modern marriage does not symbolise the superior authority of the family head over other members.

5. Legislative Measures:

The impact of legislative measures on the family system cannot be ignored. Prohibition of early marriages and fixing the minimum age of marriage by the Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929 and the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, have lengthened the period of education.

The freedom of mate- selection and marriage in any caste and religion without the parents’ consent after certain age per­mitted through by the Special Marriage Act, 1954, gave a blow to the parental authority to decide their children’s marriage.

Other legislations such as the Widow Remarriage Act, 1856 which gives sanction for widow remarriage, the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 which permits divorce and the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 which gives share to daughters in parental property – all have modified inter­personal relations within the family, the composition of the family and the stability of the joint family.

6. Other Causes:

i. Influence of Western Values:

The western values relating to modern science, rationalism, individualism, equality, free life, democracy, freedom of women etc. have exerted a tremendous influence on the Hindu family system. The modern educated youths who came under the influence of these values took the earliest opportunity to become free from the tight grip of the joint family.

ii. Awareness among Women:

Increasing female education, widened freedom and employ­ment opportunities for women created awareness among women particularly in the middle and up­per class. They also sought chances of becoming “free” from the authoritarian hold of the joint family.

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