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The aim of the present study is to compare and contrast the attitudes, beliefs, and obligation towards family in the British westernised culture and British Asian culture. The role of gender will be looked at within the cultural context and briefly looked at in the historical context.
First of all it is best to shine some light on the theory of collectivism and individualism refers to ; together they form on of the dimensions of national cultures. Individualism stands for a society in which the ties between individuals are loose, everyone is expected to look after himself or herself and his or her immediate family only."(Hoffman et al,2000,p1) Collectivism is mostly a product of immigrant families who have migrated to Britain and it refers to "stand for a society in which people from birth onwards are integrated into strong cohesive ingroups, which throughout people's lifetime continue to protect them in exchange for unquestioning loyalty."( Hoffman et al,2000,p1) The reason why collectivism is a product of immigrant families is because many immigrant parents who are from traditional backgrounds see their children as contributing members of their family unit and are expected to practice a strong sense towards responsibility. Hofstede (1980) derived the idea that individualism as a unidimentional construct at the cultural level from empirical support and much research has supported the fact that much individualism and collectivism are multidimensional at the cultural level (cited kim et al,1994,p4). Hofstede (1980) tested a sample of employees of a single multinational organisation in 53 countries and he found that the employees were similar in their demographic characteristics in all the nations that he studied (cited, Vijver & Leung, 1997, p30) . So from this it is evident that individualism and collectivism could be seen as unidimensional concept.
Historical Overview of Family
Parsons argued that the structural shift from extended to nuclear family has occurred due to the industrialisation process. However some experts may contradict this theory /of structural shift , but agree that change has occurred within these structures. Willmott and young (1750) argued that the families in Britain have gone through three major big changes. The Pre-industrial family (1750) was characterised as stable, productive as a economic unit, having economic links with wider society , and the father exercising economic control over family and was seen as the head of the household. The second one is Asymmetrical Family (1750-1900) which was characterised as: Disrupted by industrial process, involving a clear separation between home and work, having absent fathers at work, Emphasising as women's role as a mother and domestic labourer. Lastly the Symmetrical Family (20th century) charcterised as: stable, child centred, emphasising equality between men and women, and mutual adaptation between needs of home and economy (historical).
However to judge the differences of attitudes and beliefs towards family obligation it is important to look at gender role in pre historical context and present historical context in the two different cultural groups. In the past the English inheritance law prioritised the eldest son among other children in the family, and equality of other children came into existence in the early nineteenth century (Finch, 1989, p69). According to Finch (1989) the daughters and sons received different treatments and they were allocated different duties, and women were expected to receive help from other women rather then their own husbands and this was due because the household work was defined as "women's work". In the present multicultural society women are seen as equal partners, and attitudes towards gender has changed British culture has favoured women of working and the traditional ideology has changed where the man was seen as the breadwinner for the family and the women were seen as housewife's who should look after children, house, and cook for the entire family e,g a statement was shown to people which was "it was the husbands role to earn the money and the wife's role to look after the children and home between 1984, and 1994 fell by 20% and it was found that majority of man and women reject the idea that women working has a negative effect on family life, and it was also found that traditional values are still entact with gender roles e,g majority of man and women also indicated that women's responsibilities should come first especially where young children are concerned (Scott & Brooke, 1995,p3).
Development of gender roles in relation to obligation
In most Asian cultures a daughter cannot pass on the family name, and has to live with her husbands family (Wemhaner, 1995). Even today in most traditional Chinese families personal preference is overtaken by family precedence, as quoted by (Wild, Swans, 1999) "Chinese tradition made it virtually impossible to say no to a relation. The obligation to ones family took precedence over ones own moral judgement". In Japanese culture the mother gives a lot of attention to the child, and the child tends to sleep next to the mother for many years.
Individualism versus Collectivism
Individualism promotes independence, individual achievement, self expression, individual thinking, and personal choice. In contrast collectivism promotes interdependence, group success, adherence to norms, respect for elders, and group consensus. Individualism is also associated with egalitarian relationships and flexibility in roles whereas collectivism is associated with stable hierarchical roles (dependent on gender, family background, and age) (Trumbull et al, 2000, p1).Above are only some of the salient features of both systems.
According to the British panal data (cited Scott & Brooke,1995,p2) pointed out a contradicting view of individualism which basically states that individualism is not a substitute for the importance of family life and family life is still very important of all. Most people even today consider family matters most important e,g in a study it was found that 41% mentioned that family matters are the most important 24% mentioned employment matters are most important, and 23% mentioned that leisure matters were most important (Scott & Brooke,1995,p2). It is also believed that gender, and age play a crucial role in attitudes and obligation towards family. Women are believed to give more importance to family life events then men, and young people are believed to be less family centred then older people (Scott & Brooke,1995, p2)
According to Greenfield (cited Greenfield, 2000,p2) argued that the Human experience is far to complex to fit into any conceptual scheme e,g individualism, and collectivism and that no society is totally individualistic or collectivistic and she states that " Each strikes a particular balance between individual independence and interdependence"(Greenfield, 1994, p4,cited, Ross,2000,p2 ).Greenfield, 2000,p2 also indicated that there is a lot of variation in ethnic groups, socio-economic status, geographical backgrounds, personality individual differences, and lastly that culture itself changes over a course of time.
Asians value the notion of collectivity and groupness. The group and family is prioritised over the individual himself/herself. In the Asian culture the child is strictly instructed by the family members to respect higher authority e,g elderly people, and anyone who is older and it is expected from the child to be obedient towards parents and to provide them comfort(Egeler,2000,p1). Asians value duty and obligation at the top of their list, whereas in contrast western culture value personal rights and privileges at the top of their list. Egeler (2000) also tends to believe that the sense of duty and obligation is overtaken by individual rights and privilegdes e,g an Asian college student may choose a module with the choice of the parents (Egeler,2000 p1). Also in asian culture much importance is placed on roles, position and status e,g in an asian family the father is seen at the highest post and the siblings and children are taught to refer to their older brothers or sisters by their title e,g big brother rather then by their given names.
A study was carried out by Fuligni et al, (1999), where they examined the attitudes towards family obligation among over 800 American tenth (M age=15.7 years) and Twelfth (M age = 17.7 years) grade students from Filipino, Chinese, Mexican, Central, and South American and European Backgrounds. Values and expectations were measured using a scale ranging from 1= all most never and 5= almost always. From this study it was found that American families who have Asian and Latino backgrounds had a collectivistic approach towards family, and strong emphasis was found on the well-being of one's kin. (Fuligni et al, 1999,p1030) found that Asian and Latino families who lived in America gave up most importance to family duties and obligation. No strong evidence was provided on whether ethnic variation in attitudes produced group differences in adolescence development. In contrast the students with European background placed less importance towards family obligation. According to Caplan et al,(1991), cited Fuligni et al, (1999), p1030 indicated that the children are expected to carryout household chores such as cooking a meal, or shopping or assisting with the care of other family members, and children are expected to spend their holidays with their families and are obliged to spend time with their extended families. Children are expected to live at home until marriage even then they should be willing to help their parents (Triandis, 1990, Uba, 1994, cited fuligni et al, 1999, p1031). Fulgini (1999) found that American families place a very strong emphasis on adolescent independence and teenagers rarely spend time with their families in contrast most of their time is spent with their peers and work colleagues and that most youngsters are busy in making money for personal spending.
Variation in attitudes may be due to gender, family structure, and socio economic status (Goodnow 1988 cited Fuligni et al, 1999, p1031) found that girls mostly assist their families then boys and in poor families the adolescence have a more greater role in providing economic stability then in wealthier families. The findings of this research study suggested that even adolescence from collectivistic orientation retained their family values despite living in an adolescent autonomy society which promotes the notion of individualism. a
If this is the case that young adolescences were able to retain their familial values and attitudes despite being brought up in an adolescent society then this study should be able to model the same finding as in previous research. Especially the parents of immigrant children tend to pose strong emphasis on family values and this may be one of the reasons why the younger generation is obliged to retain these values.
H:1 females will value family obligation more then males
H:0 females will not value family obligation more then males
H:1 The British Asian culture will emphasis a stronger sense of obligation towards family then the British Westerner culture.
H:0 The British Asian Culture will not emphasis a stronger sense of obligation towards family then the British Westerner culture.