Challenges Facing Arab Families
A family in the Arab world can be defined as the basic socioeconomic unit that influences the society as a whole. Families in the Arab society are interconnected and closely integrated in so many ways, yet in recent years changes were significant and challenges caused a movement away from the traditional family structure.
According to Barakat’s article, families “evolved into a patriarchal, pyramidally, hierarchical and extended institution”(97). A family is therefore the central point through which religion and culture is inherited across generations.
When studying the challenges and changes undergone by families, one should consider the patterns of marriage and divorce, the family structure, family roles, and even external economic and social factors. It has been found that “recent changes in family structure have contributed to the democratization of husband wife and father-children relationship” (Barakat, 102). Women are now ...view middle of the document...
A woman can nowadays fall in love or have an acquaintance before she marries the guy. The custom of endogamy, “where marriage within the same lineage sect, community group, village or neighborhood”,(Barakat, 109) has declined. This is not the only marriage pattern that was established, but also the gap between the married couple has narrowed down. Worthy of mentioning is the decline in both divorce rates as well as polygamy. However, in the Gulf, spinsterhood crisis is significant, where there is a delay in marriage for several reasons and mainly to achieve other goals and aspirations in life (Haddad, 8). Even though, women are found to have more freedom in recent years, the dilemma of postponed marriage has lead to sexual relations outside the marriage frame. There has also been a “sudden transformation from condition of dependency to a condition of autonomy is not located in the realm of the constant but in the realm of social variant” (Barakat, 117). In the Gulf region specifically, oil reserve and rural-urban migration have contributed the most to the changes in several patterns of the family.
Having the wealth from oil has allowed more exposure to capitalism as well as globalization; therefore the average standard of living of families in the Gulf rose (Haddad, 16). Those changes have led to dependence on foreign babysitters by most of their households, which then caused challenges among the families as children were raised on different values. In general, exposure to the world and the recent trends have mostly caused several changes in the traditional family structure and therefore, the Arab families have been challenged when faced with these socioeconomic factors that have adjusted the shape of a typical family structure. The Arab family however is still close enough compared to other societies, as Arab’s values will be embedded across decades and is major attribute that contributes to their uniqueness as a nation.
1)Barakat,H. The Arab Family and the Challenge of Change.1993. The Arab World. Berkley, California: University of California Press.
2)El-Haddad,Y. Major Trends Affecting Families in the Gulf Countries. May 2003 Bahrain University College of Arts.