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Семья и семейная жизнь - 26

The West Indian matrifocal family
The West Indian matrifocal family is another well-known form of family organization that casts doubt on the universality of the nuclear family. For many lower-class West Indians, both rural and urban, the role of the father in family life is negligible. The mother is the central figure, hence the term matrifocal (meaning focused on the mother). In the usual pattern a household comes into existence after a man and a woman set up house together. Their cohabitation is sometimes based on a legal marriage, but this is not necessarily the case. When children are born of the union, they are looked after by their mother, who in turn depends on her husband or lover for financial contributions toward running the household.
What makes the matrifocal family unusual is that the husband takes little or no part in child care and may indeed spend little time at home, often living elsewhere in the same community. Although in other parts of the world such behaviour would be frowned on or even thought of as deviant, in the West Indies it is socially acceptable. Eventually the older children, when they leave school, contribute toward the earnings of the family, and the importance of the father may be reduced even further. From this point on the mother is not only the focus of emotional ties but also the centre of economic and decision-making activities for the family. This is true whether or not her husband or lover is present as a member of the household. Older girls frequently take lovers and have children of their own while still living with the family. These children, in turn, often grow up looking to the focal figure of the family, their maternal grandmother, as the dominant figure in their lives.
The matrifocal family often dissolves with the death of the focal figure. Sometimes a mature daughter, with the help of her father, is able to keep the family together for a time, but this is not usually the case. The brothers and sisters normally move away to set up their own households, and they repeat the cycle with matrifocal families of their own.
This form of family organization, now common in the West Indies, bears no necessary relationship to the family's economic needs, but its origins may ultimately be economic. It has been argued, for example, that the female-headed household is descended from the separation of men from their families during the period of plantation slavery. Another view places the origin of the custom even earlier, in the West African compound family and the practice of polygamy (see above Forms of family organization: The compound family).

The Israeli kibbutz
A kibbutz (plural kibbutzim) is a type of agricultural collective found in Israel. Its typical features include the collective ownership of property, communal living, and the rearing of children by the community as a whole rather than by their parents alone. Although there are differences between kibbutzim, for example, in religious belief or in the degree of social ownership, the structure of kibbutz society in general has frequently been proposed as a counterexample to the view that the nuclear family is universal.
Murdock argued that the nuclear family in all societies performs sexual, reproductive, and economic functions. In the kibbutz it is the case that sexual and reproductive functions are served through marriage. After a period of cohabitation, kibbutz members normally marry under Israeli law, which is necessary in order to grant legal rights to their children. Yet contrary to Murdock's definition, the relationship called “marriage” in many kibbutzim has no economic functions. Economic activities such as working in the fields or with agricultural vehicles, and even activities like sewing, laundering, and cooking, are performed for the whole of the kibbutz. Women do not change their names upon marriage, and they continue to work as before. Meals are taken communally and not in a family unit.
Education, too, is often the responsibility of the kibbutz as a whole. But whereas this is true to some extent in all modern societies in which children attend school, the kibbutz takes the principle a step further. In many kibbutzim, children are raised from a young age by nurses and teachers, not by their parents. They eat and sleep in special quarters, not in the marital quarters of their parents. The purpose of these arrangements is to instill in children at a young age the communal values of kibbutz life. One interesting side effect, however, is that children brought up together in the same kibbutz tend to form sexual bonds in later life with people from outside the kibbutz. Members of their own kibbutz are all, in a sense, their “brothers” and “sisters.” Similarly, although parents are much more attached to their own offspring than to those of other kibbutz members, they nevertheless refer to all of them as “our children.” The structure of kibbutz life thus raises questions about the universality of the family and the psychological and sociological nature of family relations.
The traditional Nāyar family and the West Indian matrifocal family thus represent unusual systems of family organization—not because there are no cases of one-parent families or “uncaring fathers” in other societies, but because in these two systems the idea of a family in which the father plays little or no part is institutionalized as a social norm. Communal families such as the Israeli kibbutz are significant because they deny the importance of the nuclear family within societies in which nuclear families are considered normal and appropriate. Although Murdock's hypothesis may in the strict sense be overturned by these examples, they are nevertheless exceptions proving the rule that in human society the nuclear family is indeed almost universal.

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2014-07-19 18:44
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