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It is a fact that with the turn of the 21st century, the world has witnessed the full throttle adoption and acceptance of postmodernist values and approaches than ever before in the history of human civilization. So profound and pervasive has been the acceptance and application of postmodern approaches that virtually all sectors of human civilization are being affected. This development is mostly being seen in the fact that cultural constructs are presently being accorded new definition, with the family not escaping this fate too. At the time, the family has been given new definitions especially in leading countries such as the US, the UK and Europe, with the ramifications though not having been properly, soberly and conclusively debated, are far reaching and very serious. The gravity of this seriousness is seen in the fact these new definitions may affect the social order of these countries. The united kingdom for surely shall not escape the pitfalls of these new definitions.
At the turn of the 21st century, there are scholars such as Collier and Rosaldo (2002) in the field of sociology who have redefined the family. Instead of the previously or conventionally held definition of the family as the basic unit of the society, it is the individual who is being held as the most basic unit of the society. In this attempt to redefine the social unit and by taking away the title from the family and ascribing it to the individual, familism is being immolated at the altar of individualism. This is due to the fact that with the shift, it is the individual who is placed on the highest pedestal of social importance, at the expense of the family.
The flipside of the above development is that with the adoption of individualism at the expense of familism, the UK's social fabric is bound to be either stained or cut asunder due to the plummeting of societal values (Bennett, 2006). The crux of the matter is that with the adoption of the new definition above, the British government is bound to adopt new policies which will uphold the interests of the individual, but not those of the family. Some of the measures that the British government may consider ratifying may be: not giving tax reprieve to employees on the basis of the family, but on the basis of the employee's profile as an individual; the appraisal of social security services based on an individual's profile, without taking into consideration, him being a family man, among other measures (Goldenberg & Goldenberg, 2008).
Although there are economists such as Norton (2010) who are likely to argue that the approach may save the government of excess expenses, and thereby securing the government's savings on revenue, yet it is a fact that the British society is to suffer serious setbacks from which it may never recover. The implementation of economic policies which are friendly to the individual but inimical to the family unit is likely to marshal negativity towards marriage in the present and succeeding generations. Taking chances with single parenthood are likely to get popular by 2018.
With the entrenchment of the individualism and single parenting into the British society's socio-cultural mainstream, subsequent generations are likely to develop poor sense of judgment, morality, self will and direction (Fauve-Chamoux, & Ochiai, 2009). This is because, it is the family (being led by the father and the mother) that a child can be nurtured in a holistic environment, and thereby learning and having values such as diligence, saving (instead of consumerism), respect to authority, the importance of academic excellence (as opposed to mediocrity) and decency (as opposed to caving into the lure of drug abuse and substance reliance) (Craft-Rosenberg & Pehler, 2011).
The veracity of this above divulgence is clearly exemplified by the correlation between the perennial and ubiquitous rise in drugs abuse and substance reliance on one hand, and the disintegration of the family unit. To deviate a little, social scientists have for instance pointed out that The Mexican drug problem is well known to have been heralded by the shift from familism to individualism, for instance. Just like the rest of the Latin American countries, in Mexico, counseling, advising and the impartation of social values were done by grandparents. Nevertheless, Mexico is witnessing a radical shift from an extended family to a nuclear setting, with the grandparents being severed from their grandchildren. The United Kingdom is also headed down this primrose path (Marija, 2006).
Anthropologists as being interested in the study of man, in respect to his culture, have also not failed to make new definitions on the family. Anthropologists such as Jeynes (2002) have much recently taken to describing the family as a group of people who are affiliated by affinity, consanguinity or even co-residence. Giddens (2009) points out that the essence of this definition is that it does not include the three qualities affinity, consanguinity and co-residence as being mutually inclusive of one another for the consideration of a group of people to be considered a family. Simply, a family can be considered to be one, provided the group therein is: if not consanguine, then affined, or if not sanguine or affined, then co-resident (Bowie & Buttle, 2004).
The gravity of the above standpoint is that any group of people who live together is considered a family. This definition is arrived at after spates of attempts by anthropologists who have attempted to conjure the most universal definition of the family. It is easy for one to understand the settling on the definition, especially when one factors it that anthropologists have studied virtually many or all cultures or ethno-linguistic grouping and cultures, and would therefore want to fuse or integrate the salient factors exhibited therein, into the definition of the family (Swenson, 2008).
Nonetheless, the flipside of the above standpoint or description of the family as is advanced by postmodernist anthropologists is that it contravenes and contradicts the traditional definition of the family as a "a group of people which comprises the husband and wife (as married heterosexual couple), and their children." Rosaldo (2000) maintains that at one end, by the phrase "children", traditional or conventional description covered both biologically sired and adopted children. Likewise, by the phrase "parents", conventional orb traditional definition meant a woman and a man who have come together in a holy matrimony to found a family. At the other end, by merely describing the family as a group of people with "affinity" and "co-residence", much leeway or threshold is accorded to the assimilation of homosexual families into the UK's cultural mainstream (Cowan and Cowan, 2001)
According to Moore (2008), at the core of the matter is that even as British anthropologists push for the official adoption of their new definition of the family, economic, legal (constitutional), political, administrative and even religious policies are bound to undergo changes so as to bring about the realization or effecting of the new changes. To Lee (1982), as far as legal matters are concerned, the definition of a family in the UK constitution is inevitably bound to elicit a sharp rise of homosexual marriages and the founding of homosexual families. The constitution will have allowed the founding of homosexual families since the felicity conditions will have been met by the homosexual partners: affinity will be fulfilled in the homosexual partners claiming to be in love, while co-residence will be seen in them living together (Nedelec, 2006).
At the same time, a much more serious problem is likely to arise from the development: the demand for the rights of homosexual partners to adopt. To Shanas (2009), the argument will at the instance be pegged on the definition since the constitution shall have remained mute on the sexes of the partners staying together. Activists are likely to pose vehemently, "If heterosexual families are accorded the rights of adoption, why not homosexual ones which are also recognized by law?" Thus, by the virtue of accepting this definition by 21st century anthropologists, Britain is likely to have two types of families running concurrently: the heterosexual family and the homosexual one juxtaposed alongside it (Olesen and Dickinson, 2000).
Conversely, it is interesting to note that feminists also have their preferred definition of the family. The push for a feminist approach on the definition of the family has mainly been underpinned by the dynamism which is extant in the UK's and the entire world's social setup. Success for feminists was seen to have come in the 1970s when Ward Goodnough described the family as being essentially composed of "the mother and her children." However, the definition is potentially inclusive of others, with these others being vaguely defined as "the functionally significant." This development was later succeeded vehement efforts to have women-friendly definitions of families by leading feminists such as Michelle Rosaldo and Yanagisako Sylvia who internationally called for the cross-cultural description and configuration of the family (Yanagisako, 1979).
The importance of adopting feminist description of the family such as the one exemplified above has its implications too. The adoption of and rise of female single parent families is to take on a speedy precedence. Nevertheless, the constructs which are not being mooted is that with the adoption of the female single parent family, the roles of the woman in the society are being wrongly presumed to have changed (Segalen, 22). Actually, can a woman be the disciplinarian to her three teenage sons, while balancing career, being a bread winner and all? It is upto the British society to vigorously address these matters.