Nuclear and joint family households in West Bengal ...



Title Nuclear and joint family households in West Bengal villages
Author(s) Satadal Dasgupta, Christine Weatherbie, Rajat Subhra Mukhopadhyay
Journal Ethnology
Date 1993
Volume 32
Issue 4
Start page 339
End page 358
Abstract Examines whether nuclear family households are gaining ground in India at the expense of joint family households, based on a questionnaire survey of all 544 households of 3 villages in the Arambagh region of the Hooghly District of West Bengal. The findings suggest that: (1) although the joint family household is not the typical household in rural West Bengal, either in terms of its proportion among all households or in terms of people belonging to it, it shows a remarkable stability, & thus provides support to the cyclical view that joint family households are relatively stable in their rate of incidence, & nuclear family households are transitional forms in the normal functioning of the developmental cycle of joint family units; (2) the developmental cycle of formation & dissolution of joint family households varies by different groups in a village in that the proportion of joint family households tends to be significantly higher among household heads who are age 45+, own land, operate large farms, follow agricultural occupations, belong to high or middle castes, &/or are literate, than among those who are age 44 or younger, landless, operate smaller farms, follow nonagricultural occupations, belong to low castes, or are illiterate; (3) only four characteristics - age, landownership, occupation, & literacy - are independently related to the incidence of household types, & they show a stronger relationship to household types when combined into an index than does each characteristic, except age, related singly; & (4) once the household head is age 45+, regardless of his other characteristics, & his first son is old enough to bring his wife into the household, his probability of heading a joint family increases significantly. The high proportion of nuclear family households in the 3 villages suggest that married sons tend to separate from their parental households almost immediately after they themselves become parents. The joint family household, however, persists as a unit for a relatively longer period of time after it comes into existence among those people in a village who own land, follow agricultural occupations, & are literate. 7 Tables, 16 References. Modified AA.

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