South and Southeast Asians of Canada - Kinship, Marriage and Family



South Asian source cultures are characterized by patrilineality, patrilocality, class and caste endogamy, consanguineal (and where relevant, village) exogamy (some Muslims Excepted) , arranged marriage, polygyny, familial gender segregation, patriarchy, male inheritance, joint or extended family organization, extensive familial economic pooling, and the subordination of individual and community concerns to those of the family. Kinship terms vary by language, ethnic group, and religion, but typically follow either a Hawaiian or an Iroquois pattern. Lineages are often acknowledged but are not corporate. Kin relations reflect strong age and gender Status differences. In Canada, key familial relations have become deeply symbolic of South Asians' continuity with tradition. Some are also of great practical and psychological importance. The maintenance of extant family roles reduces the psychological marginality of immigrant adults brought on by great shifts in public sphere roles; chain migrants inevitably stay with relatives while establishing themselves; household income pooling by parents and children makes possible a high material standard of living; community-based roles and statuses are closely linked to family. Even so, few reestablish permanent fully extended or joint households. Nuclear families with two to three children predominate, but Households composed of nuclear families and one or two other relatives are very common. Almost all elderly reside with relatives, and children usually remain part of their parents' household until marriage, and sometimes for years thereafter. Most parents sharply limit relations of their adolescent and young adult children with those of the opposite sex, usually forbidding daughters (and often sons) to date. Many parents arrange their marriages, and most informally guide the process. South Asians commonly object to intermarriage, for it may symbolize the end of the family line or cause a loss of community status. Intermarriage rates are low, but greater among professionals and some diaspora groups like Fijians and Guyanese. Divorce is rare. The massive labor force participation of women is not yet fully reflected in husband-wife roles. Joint decision making has increased, but elements of patriarchy persist. Wives remain responsible for child rearing.

Southeast Asian patterns are broadly similar, but more closely follow Cantonese Chinese practice. The ideal Household is patrilineally based, extended, patriarchal, patrilocal (excepting Lao, who are sometimes matrilocal), and a corporate economic unit. Kinship terminology varies by group. In practice, elderly parents usually stay with the eldest son, but children typically establish their own nuclear households after marriage. Southeast Asian women (especially in Cambodia and Laos) have more power and influence than their South Asian or Chinese peers, both in the household and outside. For all groups powerful cultural values imbue in Individuals strong feelings of familial responsibility. Many have been unable to fully reestablish their families in Canada, for they have key family members who cannot leave their Countries of origin, who have found safe haven elsewhere, or who have been killed in war. Vietnamese Chinese, however, Typically do live in nuclear or partially extended households. A significant minority of Southeast Asians without families in Canada continue to live in the households of relatives or have formed households with similar individuals. Intermarriage rates so far have been low.

Socialization. South and Southeast Asians expend only selective effort to enculturate or socialize their young children into their source culture and its social practices. They have a high (though class-dependent) commitment to their Children's social and economic success, and know that along with securing the necessary education and skills comes acculturation. In fact, public school participation (nearly universal) and the influences of the mass media and their peers have produced massive second-generation acculturation. Nevertheless, South and Southeast Asians have stressed the Maintenance of certain values and practices that symbolize continuity with tradition and past experience. These include family roles, food traditions, religion, and to a varying degree, language.

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