English - Kinship, Marriage, and Family



Kinship. The most important kin group is the extended family, which generally includes all known relatives. Although descent is not strictly lineal, the family name is traced patrilineally. However, relationship through the female line is acknowledged informally. If he has no male heir, a son may incorporate the name of his mother's family as his family name in a hyphenated form. Kin relationships are strongly Influenced by distance, stage of life, and closeness of relationship. In practice, the mother-daughter relationship dominates and it is around the wife's mother that much family activity is determined. Other members of the kin group are included if they live nearby. However, neighbors are very Important in providing companionship and social support, and these friendships are often maintained after a person has moved away.

Marriage. The emphasis on marital status has decreased in the last decade. Self-esteem and status are now determined by a career, whereas previously they centered on having a spouse and children. Today people often delay marriage and children until their career aspirations stabilize. Generally marriages are by the choice of the male and female. Abortion is legal and divorce is acceptable; both have increased in the postwar era.

Domestic Unit. The nuclear family is the most prevalent domestic unit. It consists of the mother, father, and juvenile children. During times when housing was scarce, it was Common for a newly married couple to live with the wife's family. Among the landed gentry residence for the eldest son was patrilocal while other offspring resided elsewhere.

Inheritance. Traditionally, inheritance was through the male line. The aristocracy maintained its wealth by a system of primogeniture, where the estate went to the eldest son. Other sons had to serve in the army, the church, or business, or vanish into obscurity or poverty. Now, inheritance is according to the wishes of the owner of the resources. He or she dictates the inheritance by a will or testament. If there is no will, it is probated in a court.

Socialization. Parents, peers, and media are three primary influences for socialization. Parents discipline, but corporal punishment is not acceptable. Evaluation by one's peers is important for English children. Television, videos, rock music, advertising, and other forms of popular media culture exert a strong influence on children.


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