The creation of new categories of industrial and post-industrial employment has had different effects on traditional family structures, depending on the numbers and types of jobs available and the employability of the applicants.
As noted above, the agrarian family could support its unskilled and psychologically marginal members by allotting them menial tasks. Such elasticity in African subsistence agriculture is captured in the Ghanaian proverb, "A guest is a guest for three days and then you give him a hoe" (to help on the farm). With departure from the farm, salaried families cannot support poor relatives who are unable to find stable employment. The majority of poor non-farm families often are left in the amorphous non-formal sector of petty trade and services. The non-formal process of living on "magic," as the Ghanaians termed it in the 1981 economic crisis, provides shifting sands for family formation.
Emergence of the modern two-parent nuclear family in developing countries has been primarily a middle-class phenomenon. The poorest classes tend to have high rates of relatively unstable consensual unions, low formal marriage rates, and high divorce rates. The direction taken by the urbanizing family towards an integrated, nuclear, upwardly mobile structure or an unstable female-headed structure may depend on the job success and attitudes of the father in the generation that migrates to the city, as described by Sennett (1970), for nineteenth century US urban migrants. Less successful urbanizing families devolve towards transient, male-headed or small, women-headed units, or extended family clusters in which women and their children are subunits (Buvinic 1992). Over time, women may bear children by different fathers in a manner that optimizes the probability that at least one of the men in their network will be able to provide remittances for child care, or social connections that help them to find a job (Gussler 1975; Guyer 1990). Often, as noted by Rao and Green (1991) in Brazil, women live in unstable consensual unions only because their partners will not agree to formal marriage or cannot afford it. By modern family standards, these irregular units are failed families; post-modern criteria may view them as normal variants (Doherty 1992).
The post-modern family, discussed in detail on pages 25-30, is sometimes termed the pluralistic (Doherty 1992) or permeable family (Elkind 1992). It consists of many small free-flowing groupings that include modern nuclear families; a few traditional families; single parents; blended, co-parent, adopted, test-tube, surrogate-mother, and gay and lesbian families, with or without formal marriage contracts.
Feminization of poverty
Women living alone or with their children are disproportionately represented among the poor. This trend, referred to as the feminization of poverty, may reflect changes in family structure (when nuclear families dissolve, the man usually retains his income and status, whereas the woman and her children enter the lower category of poor female-headed households). But others (Bane 1986) argue that often the underlying cause is poverty: resources for children living in poor female-headed households may be so inadequate that growth and development are adversely affected.
In general, women's economic power has become eroded with technological changes and with improvements in the market activities of poor rural households, which increase men's control over resources and simultaneously undercut women's control (Boserup 1970; Schultz 1989). By unbalancing traditional gender roles, modern agricultural technology may have negative effects on the caring capacity, cooperation between spouses, and emotional climate of families who adopt new cash crops and other technologies.
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