DMPQ-. According to many sociologists, in contemporary India, the traditional joint families are being replaced by functional joint families. What do you understand by functional joint families? Why such trend is on increase in recent years?

Features of Traditional joint family include common residence, common kitchen, common property and participation in common family worship etc. Indian family system since ancient period was basically traditional joint family system.

  • However in recent years it has been replaced by functional joint family. Functional joint family, according to sociologist IP Desai, means a family where even though the members of family are living separately, but each individual gives importance to fulfilment of obligation towards kin, even if residence is separate and there is no common ownership of property. Fulfilment of obligation refers to identifying oneself as members of a particular family rendering financial and other kinds of help and following joint family norms.
  • Thus sociologists believe that breakdown of traditional joint family in India has not resulted into rise of nuclear families, instead mostly it is being replaced by functional joint family where each male even though living separately has obligation to look after the parents, his teenage brothers and sisters.
  • In functional joint family, the jointness of the family is reflected by common place of residence but by the nature and quality of social interaction.

Why is it increasing in recent years?

Sociologists accord two reasons for the rise of functional joint family:

  1. Industrialization is one of the major factors behind the rise of functional joint families since due to setting up of industries, workers in rural areas tend to migrate to cities to find job. However even though they live separately from their parents and other kins, they continue to maintain relations with their kins by sending money or taking care of studies of their younger siblings. Some even finally return and settle in village after retirement.
  2. Modernization is the second major factor. Since with education, generally younger women of the family are impressed by the modern family life. They have become conscious of their rights and equality with men. They, therefore feel suffocated in traditional joint family as they have to live their life within the norms of patriarchy. Therefore, they opt for separate residence. However, even then the unit continues to fulfil their financial, social and other obligations towards the kins specially parents

Supplementary Notes

Other factors responsible for weakening of traditional joint family

  1. Rapid growth of population-Rapid growth of population brought corresponding increase of the pressure on land. Agriculture being the prime occupation of the villagers, the rural youths faced the problem of unemployment due to the imbalance of man and land equation. People began to move into urban and industrial centres in search of jobs. Thus they had to leave the traditional joint families which resulted in the breakdown of jointness.
  2. Family Quarrels: Differences in the interest of members of a joint family, disparities relating to earning of the members and clash of personalities caused quarrels. Conflicts also occurred due to unequal distribution of work at house, extra economic burden and emotional strain and same type of treatment to the lazy members. These spoiled the happiness in the family and caused dissatisfaction among the members of the family and many a time it became so intolerable that the breakdown of joint family appeared to be the only way out.
  3. Accommodation-Problems: In the urbanindustrial matrix the problem of accommodation is very acute. Due to the great density of population, and the high cost of living the migrants are not in a position to afford a big house which can accommodate all the members of a joint family, small houses become insufficient to accommodate all the members of the joint family. Hence single families are only maintained in the place of work.
  4. Developed means of transport and communication: In the past, people were less mobile because of lack of transport and poor communication. Since they were relatively immobile, they had to stay in the joint family and village community. But with the rapid development of the means of transportation and communication, people have become more and more mobile. They now move from one place to another within no time. In the past, the caste system was very rigid and people were taking to their family occupation. But now due to the improved means of transport and communication, people move to different places in search of various kinds of jobs and employment.


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