Japan and its decreasing divorce rates

Japanese society is portrayed as classless or one with a class structure in which very tiny elite groups and underclasses bracket an enormous number of middle-class people.

However, there are significant social differences among rural and urban residents, including family composition, educational attainment, and labor force participation. Within the urban population, social differentiation exists between the white-collar, salaried “new middle class,” blue-collar industrial workers, and the self-employed petty entrepreneurial classes of shopkeepers and artisans.

Marriage and Family Life

Marriage is generally based on mutual attraction between individuals i.e. a “love marriage”. Some people still rely on arranged marriage in which a go-between negotiated a match in a process that might give parental opinions more weight than those of the prospective bride and groom.

Looking at the history of the Japanese family over the last century or so, Japan is one of the few countries that’s gone through industrialization and had the rate of divorce drop.

In traditional Japanese families, families would send back a bride or an adopted son-in-law if they didn’t feel that the marriage was working or that the person wasn’t able to contribute to the household. Today that traditional family system is transformed into the contemporary nuclear family as more and more marriages are based on free choice because of which the divorce rate went down a great deal. In most countries going through urbanization and industrialization, it’s quite the opposite.

Weddings are almost always held in hotels or wedding halls, with a lavish banquet for several dozen guests. The ceremonies blend elements from Shintō marriage rituals and stylized adaptations of Christian weddings. Weddings are elaborately staged, and the bride and groom typically go through several changes of costume.

Most urban families consist of parents and their children while slightly extended families have an elderly parent living with a married couple and their children.

The family in Japan is called “kazoku” in Japanese. The Japanese family is based on the line of descent and adoption. Ancestors and offspring are linked together by an idea of family genealogy, or keizu, which does not mean relationships based on mere blood inheritance and succession, but rather a bond of relationship inherent in the maintenance and continuance of the family as an institution.

The most usual living arrangement in Japan today is the nuclear family—more than 60 percent of the households are of this type, and the number has increased steadily throughout this century. Another 16 percent are single-person households.

Just over 20 percent of households are extended, most of which are in rural areas. This type of household, known traditionally as the ie, is thought today to have been typical of living arrangements in Japan until well into this century, although in reality there was always considerable regional and class variation in connection with household composition. The ie usually was composed of a three-generation household of grandparents, parents, and children. 

Inheritance

The primary imperative of the family as a social institution was to survive across the generations. In traditional agrarian life, land was almost never divided, because to do so might imperil the next generation’s ability to survive. So in most cases, inheritance was by a single child, usually the eldest son. In the case of an extremely prosperous family, they might be able to establish other children in newly independent family lines, which would remain forever subservient to the original line.

The particular social custom called “adopted sons-in-law” was there so that a family that had daughters, but no sons, might adopt a young man and have him marry their daughter, and when the adoption and marriage was completed, he would take on the family name of his wife’s family, and for all intents and purposes would be considered the heir to that family. So it’s not inheritance through the female, but still inheritance through the male, but the male’s role is created socially through the process of adoption.

Kinship

Various kinds of fictive kinship modeled on patterns of adoption and relationships between family branches have been used to sustain other kinds of social relationships. Patron-client relationships sometimes are referred to as parent-child ties, and may involve elaborate formal rituals of bonding. Traditional artistic life is structured around master-apprentice relationships that involve adoption and the establishment of lineages.

The kinship system before World War II was based on upper-class family patterns established during the late Tokugawa period. Later the government put in place legal norms and standards that defined an ideal family structure. It established clear rules about membership, inheritance patterns, and the authority of the household head over assets and marriages. This legal structure was radically altered after World War II, by reducing patriarchal authority, increasing the legal rights of women, and requiring that estates be shared among children and widows.

Patterns of traditional kinship still shape the social conventions of family life.

The traditional family system was organized around a multigenerational household with a single central authority: the male household head. Inheritance of a family’s estate and succession to a family’s occupation, social position, and obligations devolved to a single child. In terms of social participation, the household was considered as a single unit rather than the sum of its members.

The kinship system is bilateral, and includes relatives connected to both husband and wife. Cognates and affines are addressed by the same terms but horizontal ties are usually stressed over vertical ties. 

Advertisements

Listen..

Author's Note:
Social exchange theory posits that human relationships are formed by the use of a subjective cost-benefit analysis and the comparison of alternatives. Humans uses the concepts of individualism to explain exchange processes.

Listen to each drop of rain
Whispering secrets in vain
Shattering silence yet subdued
Narrating some stories of pain

Of a mother walking barefoot
Happy that she stole something to cook
To feed her young ones tonight
Wondering if the good days will stay put

Of a father coming out of brothel
Not caring if he smells awful
Since the leak of his affair ceased to shake his wife
Even the kids knowing about it wouldn’t cause an apostle

Of a young brat wiping his mouth after a kitchen detour
Started with one scoop ended with four more
Revenge of telling mom about school bunk
Sister’s favorite ice cream settles the score

Listen to the each drop of rain
Whispering secrets in vain
If ever anyone lends its ear to listen
They’ll know every secret is an immortal tale

Arab World | Society and its intricasies

Author's Note:
Understanding Arab society, their views, relations and basis of kinship

The term Arab generally refers to those persons who speak Arabic as their native tongue. A semitic people, there are estimated to be over 300 million people living in the Arab world.

An Arab world view is based on 6 concepts :

  • Atomism

Arabs tend to see the world and events as isolated incidents, snapshots, and particular moments in time. This is a key psychological feature of Arab culture. Westerners look for unifying concepts whereas Arabs focus on parts, rather than on the whole. It also means the Western concept of cause and effect is rarely accepted by Arabs who may not necessarily see a unifying link between events. They do, however, maintain a long-term memory over actions and events. It is important to point out that it is memory, not necessarily history that is important.

  • Deep Belief in God

Arabs usually believe that many, if not all, things in life are controlled by the will of God (fate) rather than by human beings. What might appear as fatalism initially is more deeply a belief in God’s power, sovereignty, active participation in the life of the believer, and authority over all things (business transactions, relationships, world events, etc.).

  • Wish v/s reality

Arabs, express emotion in a forceful, animated and exaggerated fashion. Their desire for modernity is contradicted by a desire for tradition (especially Islamic tradition, since Islam is the one area free of Western identification and influence). Desiring democracy and modernization immediately is a good example of what a Westerner might view as an Arabs “wish vs. reality.”

  • Justice and Equality

Arabs value justice and equality more than anything else.

  • Paranoia

Arabs may seem to be paranoid by Western standards. Suspicion of US intent in their land and a cautious approach to American forces are a primary example. Some Arabs view all Westerners as agents of the government that may be “spies.” Especially in the ethnically diverse areas, mistrust runs deep amongst these various groups.

  • Family over self

Arabic communities are tight-knit groups made up of even tighter family groups and most often, apart of tribes.


Arabs are a proud and sensitive people whose culture is mainly derived from three key factors: family, language, and religion. No adequate understanding of Arab culture is possible without first examining these three major elements and the pervading impact they have had on their culture. To begin to understand the Arabs, one must first understand the Arabic family since it has been regarded as the basis of the Arab social structure. Thus the first major factor overshadowing all other societal demands of an Arab is that of family and kin. The kin characteristic includes a set of group dynamics that are built around the family. Any discussion of Arab culture must also include their dominant cultural concerns, such as continuation of the close knit family.

Traditionally Arab Sociologists and religious legislators have stressed on the importance of the family unit as the basic social institution of society. The structure of the Arabic family is much more rigid and highly emphasized in comparison to the West. The peace and security offered by a stable family unit is greatly valued and seen as essential for the spiritual growth of its members.

Parents are greatly respected in the Islamic tradition. In Arab culture, parents are responsible for children well into those children’s adult lives, and children reciprocate by taking responsibility for the care of their aging parents—responsibilities that Arabs generally take on with great pride.

In the traditional Arab family, the father represents the authority figure (patriarchal tradition), and in return he shoulders the major responsibilities towards his family members. The wife joins the kin group of her husband (patrilocal kin), while the children take up the father’s family name (patrilineal descent). In that capacity, the father is assigned the role of the bread-winner or provider for his family. This role puts him at the top of the pyramidal structure of his family. Also this role carries with it unquestioning compliance with his instructions as well as respect from all family members. The mother is assigned the role of the housewife, and in that capacity, she is closer to the children and actually exercises power over them, though sometimes she may use the father to threaten them. Some scholars may interpret that as a matriarchal system alongside the patriarchal system in the Arab family. However, it is believed that this matriarchal system supports the existing patriarchy, as it solidifies the pyramidal structure of the family.

In Arabic families, younger fathers expected to provide for and support the other family members, while mother are to care for the children and the household. Then, once the children are grown, and the parents are aged, it is the children’s responsibility to care for their parents – even if it’s at the children’s own expense.

The structure of the Arabic family is composed of four types of family units. The first and most simple structure is the nuclear unit, which consists of the father, mother, and offspring. This type of family unit is the least significant in the culture of the Arab world and is used to specify the actual residence of a family or the group of people who live under the same roof most of the time. The second familial unit is the the extended family or the joint family. It consists of father, mother, unwed children, as well as wedded sons and their wives and children, unwed paternal aunts, and, sometimes, unwed paternal uncles. In short, this unit is composed of blood relatives plus women who were brought into the kin through marriage. This unit is an economic as well as a social unit and is governed by the grandfather or eldest male. The third type of blood kin unit is the or clan. It consists of all individuals, male or female, who claim descent from the same paternal ancestor. The Arab village community is normally composed of three or four such clans, and each of these units of clans are composed of several joint families.

The Arab family is the center of all loyalty, obligation, and status of its members. The individual’s loyalty and duty to his or her family are greater than any other social obligation. From birth until death, the Arab individual is always identified with other members of the joint family in name and social status. Once a child is born to a young couple, the people stop referring to the parents by their first names and begin calling them after the name of their child. Arabs used to call each others by using their euphemistic name ‘surname’ rather than the first name because such a euphemistic name will maximize and increase the honorific and respectable character of the person. Unlike the western culture, Women are related in the same fashion through the patrilineal line, and they maintain such identification even after marriage; though women do not add their husband’s name to their own after marriage.

Arab families are patrilineal, which designates descent from the father’s side, as well as patriarchal, meaning conferring male power, responsibility and privilege. Patrilineality defines social relations, inheritance, joint economic operations, occasionally one’s defense group, and control over female sexuality. Women continue to belong to their father’s family after marriage. Their fathers and brothers can be a defense against their husbands – significantly more so than is the English norm.

A Muslim marriage is both a sacred act and a legal agreement, in which either partner is free to include legitimate conditions. From an Islamic perspective, marriage legalizes sexual relations and provides the framework for procreation. From a social perspective, it brings together not only the bride and groom but also their nuclear families.

The main factors considered in the selection of a mate are the character, reputation, and economic and social status of the prospective in-laws, followed by the character and reputation of the spouses-to-be. Preference is usually given to relatives(cousins) in which such a marriage among relatives is not acceptable in western society. Unlike the western culture, Islam does not accept the relations of boyfriend or girlfriend or adultery before marriage since such relations are not allowed according to the Islamic rules and they will break the system of the society by giving birth to illegal children whom they have not any kin relations.

 

What Next?

Author's Note: 
Functionalism theory examines how the institution of family contributes to the stability of society, whereas conflict theory examines how the family reflects the inequalities and problems in society. Interactionism is different from both as it examines the internal workings of the family, while they are concerned with the family’s interaction with society.  Asking questions is an important way to resolve conflict, understand problems and resolve concerns.

Day dream delusions
Seeking conclusions
When life throws answers
We seek the questions
And I stand I ask…what now?

Should I wake up from dreams
Throw tantrums at those conclusions
Accept the simple answers
Or hunt the deeper questions
And I keep wondering..what now?

Dreams start to fade
Conclusions seem vague
Answers waver their standing
While questions are pounding
And my mind asks my heart..what now?

Listen to a soulful song
Weave those dreams again
Don’t hurry into conclusions
Look at the big game plan
Everything can’t be answered
Some questions are open ended
When the questions seem overwhelming
Imagine the power of their answer yet unfounded..

And the mind stops questioning..what now?

Pillars, Walls, Doors and Windows

Author's Note: 
There are four pillars that hold society together: government, business, family, religion. Parents are the pillars of family who raise the young ones and teach them how to fight their own battles, but once they learn that- the young ones move away from their homes and into kinship and other relations. Thus society keeps growing and evolving.

With dreams in their eyes,
They came with great expectations..
To be part of a change,
To give wings to their imaginations..

Challenged,inspired, even pushed against the wall,
Week after week they were tested..
But keeping their spirits high,
Not for a minute they rested..

Soon they started reaching their destinations,
Some hopeful, some in despair,
Now they move away in separate directions,
And at blank walls I blankly stare..

Egypt: Now and Then | Before and After of Arab Invasion

The culture of Egypt has thousands of years of recorded history as ancient Egypt is among the earliest civilizations on this planet. Since then, Egypt has maintained a strikingly complex and stable culture that influenced cultures of Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Egyptians, from Greek is derived from Late Egyptian Hikuptah “Memphis”, a corruption of the earlier Egyptian name Hat-ka-Ptah (ḥwt-k3-ptḥ), meaning “home of the ka (soul) of Ptah”, the name of a temple to the god Ptah at Memphis. Arabic was adopted by the Egyptians after the Arab invasion of Egypt.

Many Egyptians today feel that Egyptian and Arab identities are inextricably linked while others believe that Egypt and Egyptians are simply not Arab, emphasizing indigenous Egyptian heritage, culture and independent polity, pointing to the perceived failures of Arab and pan-Arab nationalist policies. Egyptian critics of Arab nationalism contend that it has worked to erode and/or relegate native Egyptian identity by superimposing only one aspect of Egypt’s culture.

Egyptians carry names that have Egyptian, Greek, Arabic, Turkish, English and French origins, among others. The concept of a surname is lacking in Egypt. Rather, Egyptians tend to carry their father’s name as their first middle name, and stop at the 2nd or 3rd first name, which thus becomes one’s surname.

Honour is an important facet of interpersonal relationships. Respect and esteem for people is both a right and an obligation. An individual’s honour is intricately entwined with the reputation and honour of everyone in their family. Honour requires that Egyptians demonstrate hospitality to friends and guests. A man’s word is considered his bond and to go back on your word is to bring dishonour to your family.

Family Values

  1. The family is the most significant unit of Egyptian society.
  2. Kinship plays an important role in all social relations.
  3. The individual is always subordinate to the family, tribe or group.
  4. Nepotism is viewed positively, since it is patronage of one’s family.
  5. The family consists of both the nuclear and the extended family.

Relationships

Egyptians prefer to do business with those they know and respect, therefore expect to spend time cultivating a personal relationship before business is conducted. Who they know is more important than what they know, so it is important to network and cultivate a number of contracts. Egyptians believe direct eye contact is a sign of honesty and sincerity, so be prepared for disconcertingly intense stares.
Egyptians are emotive and use hand gestures when they are excited. In general, they speak softly, although they may also shout or pound the table. This is not indicative of anger; it is merely an attempt to demonstrate a point. One should demonstrate deference to the most senior person in the group, who will also be their spokesperson.

Marriage and the Family

The Egyptians appear to have reversed the ordinary practices of mankind. Women attend markets and are employed in trade, while men stay at home and do the weaving! Men in Egypt carry loads on their head, women on their shoulder. Women pass water standing up, men sitting down. To ease themselves, they go indoors, but eat outside on the streets, on the theory that what is unseemly, but necessary, should be done in private, and what is not unseemly should be done openly.

The nuclear family was the core of Egyptian society and many of the gods were even arranged into such groupings. There was tremendous pride in one’s family, and lineage was traced through both the mother’s and father’s lines. Respect for one’s parents was a cornerstone of morality, and the most fundamental duty of the eldest son (or occasionally daughter) was to care for his parents in their last days and to ensure that they received a proper burial.

Kinship

Countless genealogical lists indicate how important family ties were, yet Egyptian kinship terms lacked specific words to identify blood relatives beyond the nuclear family.

For example, the word used to designate “mother” was also used for “grandmother,” and the word for “father” was the same as “grandfather”. Likewise, the terms for “son,” “grandson,” and “nephew” are identical. “Uncle” and “brother” (or “sister” and “aunt”) are also designated by the same word. To make matters even more confusing for modern scholars, the term “sister” was often used for “wife”.