Thread: Love & Marriage
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Old 08-15-2009, 05:59 PM   #38
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Modern Marriage

Because the family unit provides the framework for most human social activity, and since it is the foundation on which social organization is based in most cultures, marriage is closely tied to economics, law, and religion. The sociocultural implications of marriage, sexuality, family, and parent-progeny relations today form an important branch of behavioral science.
The institution of marriage has altered fundamentally in Western societies as a result of social changes brought about by the Reformation and the Industrial Revolution. The rise of a strong middle class and the growth of democracy gradually brought tolerance for romantic marriages based on the free choice of the partners involved. Arranged marriages, which had been the accepted form of marriage almost everywhere throughout history, eventually ceased to predominate in Western societies, although they continued to persist as the norm in aristocratic society to the mid-20th century. The most extreme application of the custom of arranged marriages was in prerevolutionary China, where a bride and groom often met for the first time only on their wedding day. Among the social changes that have affected marriage in modern times are the increase in premarital sexual intercourse occasioned by the relaxation of sexual taboos and the gradual rise in the average marriage age; the increase in the number of wives pursuing careers outside the home, which has led to the changed economic status of women; and the liberalization of divorce laws, including the legalization of divorce for the first time in Italy in 1970. Also significant have been the legalization of abortion, the improvement and increased accessibility of contraceptives, the removal of legal and social handicaps for children born out of wedlock, and rapid changes in the accepted concepts of male and female roles in society.
Modern Family

Historical studies have shown that family structure has been less changed by urbanization and industrialization than was once supposed. The nuclear family was the most prevalent preindustrial unit and is still the basic unit of social organization. The modern family differs from earlier traditional forms, however, in its functions, composition, and life cycle and in the roles of husbands and wives.
The only function of the family that continues to survive all change is the provision of affection and emotional support by and to all its members, particularly infants and young children. Specialized institutions now perform many of the other functions that were once performed by the agrarian family: economic production, education, religion, and recreation. Jobs are usually separate from the family group; family members often work in different occupations and in locations away from the home. Education is provided by the state or by private groups. Religious training and recreational activities are available outside the home, although both still have a place in family life. The family is still responsible for the socialization of children. Even in this capacity, however, the influence of peers and of the mass media has assumed a large role.
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