Discuss the impact of urbanisation on social institutions like family, kinship and marriage in India.

Discuss the impact of urbanisation on social institutions like family, kinship and marriage in India.

What is an ‘urban area’? The term is used in two senses – demographic and sociological. Demographically, the focus is on the size and density of population and nature of work of the majority of the adult males. Sociologically, the focus is on heterogeneity, impersonality, interdependence and the quality of life. Tonnies (1957) differentiated between gemeinschaft (rural) and gesellschaft (urban) communities in terms of social relationships and values. The former is one in which social bonds are based on close personal ties of kinship and friendship, and the emphasis is on tradition, consensus and
informality, while in the latter, impersonal and secondary relationships predominate and the interaction of people is formal, contractual and dependent on the special function or service they perform.

The history of urbanization in India reveals, broadly four processes of urbanization at work throughout the historical period. These are:

a) the emergence of new social relationships among people in cities and between people in cities and those in villages through a process of social change;
b) the rise and fall of cities with changes in the political order;

c) the growth of cities based on new productive processes, which alter the economic base of the city; and
d) the physical spread of cities with the inflow of migrants, who come in search of a means of livelihood as well as a new way of life.


Social Effects of Urbanization in India

Urbanisation has far reaching effects on larger societal process and structures. Let us capture some of these change sand effects in the following sub sections.

Family and kinship

Urbanization affects not only the family structure but also intra and inter family relations, as well as the functions the family performs. With urbanization, there is a disruption of the bonds of community and the migrant faces the problem to replace old relationships with new ones and to find a satisfactory means of continuing relationship with those left behind. Several empirical studies of urban families conducted by scholars like I.P. Desai, Kapadia and Aileen Ross, have pointed out that urban joint family is being gradually replaced by nuclear family, the size of the family is shrinking, and kinship relationship is confined to two or three generations only. In his study of 423 families in Mahuva town in Gujrat, I.P. Desai (1964) showed that though the structure of urban family is changing, the spirit of individualism is not growing in the families. He found that 74 percent families were residentially nuclear but functionally and in property joint, and 21 percent were joint in residence and functioning as well as in property and 5 percent families were nuclear.

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