There are countless differences between a family in developed country and a developing country. In US the idea of family is not collectivism; where as in India it is more on living together and collectivism. In US family means; husband, wife and children; in three generations can live together and makeup a family. The nucleus and extended families have their benefits and challenges that will be discussed in this paper. For example in US marriage is based on love and romance; where male and female are responsible for themselves. In India, it is a different issue; as marriage is arranged.
Such marriages are more of social agreement between two families rather than a love affair. The new daughter- in- law has to adjust to the new setup. Normally the husband is lives with all brothers and sister including mother and father under one roof. Such situation often creates many problems. Mother- in-law being the head of the family has control over every thing; in case of some family brawl; brothers and sisters form one camp along the mother against the daughter- in- law; while the son is sandwiched between wife and mother.
In Indian culture son is responsible for the family issues; and he always has to keep a balance between wife and mother. In a typical US family such issues are unknown as there is direct communication between the couple. It is the collectivism and social ties that helps a person to succeed in Indian social setup. For example elder brother has to take up the role of father; taking care of sisters and brothers, which is perhaps an alien idea in US culture. However it’s the culture difference between US and India; which makes such radical difference.
To be an Indian means social networking, which starts from birth to college admission, marriage, and finding job. Even in death, friends and relative are there for help to secure a honourable exit from the world. In US; the way of living is different. Even though many couples in the US live together, but for that couples that live in separate home have different problems. For example American culture emphasise individuality; living together also ends up the issues of privacy.
The Indian families repeat same set of problems; while in US even though families may have similar problems; but people are more open and willing to change if need arises. 2 To what extent do the differences in economic circumstances impact upon the families? According to a report, a typical American family has about $3,800 in the bank with a credit under their name. In American life the quality marriage after first years normally goes on a downward spiral. One reason for such decline is the arrival of children; who add to the financial woes leading to greater stress in a strained marriage.
In contrast, in Indian society the greatest fear of person is to be left alone. It may seem strange in West, but in a culture where people are bonded together, to be left alone is considered a sort of social suicide. It is this sense of social interdependence that is present to the core in Indian families helping out each other in rainy days. In Indian society; the divine (God) also influences the social life. For example to be born in rich family, to have more sons or more wealth, all these are considered good luck, which only few can enjoy.
In US, it is possible for a person to become rich in his lifetime due to his hardwork. In India, a person is either born poor or rich. To be born rich means, peak of the power; and to be poor means constantly struggling with life with no concept of change. Living in such situation is not possible without having a bond with rest of family members. The salaries in India are low. Despite working hard six days a week, salary is hardly enough to provide the basic necessities of life. It is for this reason that in India the only way of survival is to live together in one home to cut the bills.
We can say that life in India is social interdependence. People are born into groups, families, clans, castes and religious communities. In an American family, husband and wife both work and contribute to the family economics. However money is also root of the family quarrels in majority of US families. Couple often quarrels about money related issues blaming each other for spending more or less money. One of the main issues of divorce in American families is money. In some cases husbands are addicted to drinking and gambling, which give rise to financial difficulties and breaking up the families.
3 What difference does social class make? In other words, are families from different cultures basically similar because of similar class standings? Social class is defined as a hierarchical distinction among individuals and groups. According to anthropologist within a same society different people or groups have different ideas (high or low) of each other. In US the social structure is not a clear concept. The normal determinant of a social class includes education, income, and occupation. In US, a professional certification or qualification is part of education.
An educated person is an individual; who learns specific set of skills to learn his living. A highly educated person means higher prestige and higher earnings. However higher education cannot be equated with money. For example a businessman may be earning more money than a professor, but society gives more respect to professor due his beneficial role to the society. Based on qualification or education, the next issue is income level of an individual. Higher income means a person has specific set of skills. In US it is the profession that counts more than money.
For example a medical doctor or professor or clergyman may not be millionaire, but enjoy more respect and prestige than a businessman. In US; there is no concept of rigid class, instead its equal opportunity available to all the members of the society based on open competition regardless of sex, race or gender. On the other side, India has caste system; where upward or downward mobility is in hierarchy. The Indian society is divided on the basis of heredity. In its simplest form, the Brahmin makeup the top most priest class; while the Kshatriya is next class in order (in olden days, it was the military class).
In modern times, Kahatriya is the upper middle class. The middle class is the Vaishya consisting of artist, farmers and merchants; while the lowest caste is Shudra (who are considered the grub of society). The Shudura are almost social outcast and are restricted from all other occupations, except the menial jobs. Despite the huge progress in India; the caste system is still prevalent. It is very hard for lower caste person to marry an upper cast person or attain a position of high importance. 4. What seems to matter most in understanding the contrast, culture or economic circumstances?
The main difference between a US and Indian culture is the different views of life. In US individuality is more cherished; in India it is the collectivism that is foundation of society. India is divided into kinship and grouping. In a typical family, the desirable residential unit lives under one roof together with three four generations; a thought which is almost unthinkable in US. For Indians; the reasons for living together has many benefits, which ranges from working, eating, worshiping and helping each other in many social activities. There was a time when people in US also used to have strong kinship bonds in rural communities.
After the arrival of industrialization and urban living, people in US went out to new places to find new relations. In India; industrialization has also taken place and economy is growing, but it is the social system that advocates collectivism. It is for this reason that despite economic progress and development, loyalty to family is high ideal in Indian culture. Large family in India tends to be flexible and suited to the Indian way of life. For example 67 percent of Indians are still in farming, which requires a huge workforce; especially relatives and kin to help out in the time of need.
For any agricultural society economic security is not possible without a cooperative group of kinsmen. Even in cities the joint family system is essential to obtain college admission, good job or wanting financial assistance. The pattern is similar even at the top level. For example the prominent Indian families, such as Tatas, Birlas etc live in large homes under one single parental authority. This concept of joint family on one side is benefiting the Indians. However as family grows larger, it is divided into smaller units.
Often such breakaway is due to many reasons; sometimes it’s due to migration to a big city or due to job or children education. Splitting of family is often blamed on women (wives) who break the brotherly harmony, but brother often quarrel over land and other matters including marriages of their children. The reason that all children live under one roof is due to elderly parents; after their demise children often split and quarrel over inheritance. We can see that the main different in a US family and an Indian family is individualism and collectivism respectively. In US each person is free to choose his life and career.
There is nothing in his way to stop him from making or ruining his life. In the end in real world nothing is absolute wrong or right; every society has its way of living and cop with its social issues. Reference: Indian Family, Indian Families and Kinship. Retrieved November 27, 2006, Web site: http://www. indianchild. com/indian_family. htm Retrieved November 27, 2006, from Indian Family essays – Indian families Web site: http://www. indianchild. com/indian_family_structure. htm India Mirror, Caste System. Retrieved November 27, 2006, Web site: http://www. indianmirror. com/culture/cul8. html
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