The De-Christianisation, Urbanisation, and Industrialisation of the Family
Much has been said of the relationship problems between parents and children. “Crisis of Adolescence”, “The Generation Gap” and other expressions indicate that this relationship and the conditions of life within the family are not going through a period of great harmony and understanding.
The hard reality is that the institution of the family is undergoing a process of disintegration that has only accelerated over the last decades. The evident signs are everywhere. One only need consider the diminishing numbers of traditional marriages and the increasing acceptance of so-called “gay marriages”. At the same time, we see an increase in the divorce rate, more single-parent families, more unmarried couples, more children born out of wedlock, anti-conception practices as the norm, and abortions commonplace.
The discord between husband and wife and between parents and children is also part of this crisis. This has been made significantly worse by the social transformations that have taken place over the last 200 years, which brought about the urbanised and industrialised society we have today.
Here we will try to demonstrate, with the help of a few experts, how the shift from an agrarian and rural society— where the family was organised according the patriarchal model—to today’s industrial and urban society—where the family has been pulverised and reduced to a small nucleus—has visibly harmed the harmonic development of the child within the home itself, as well as the mutual understanding between the parents.
Harry Elmer Barnes, a prominent American historian in the 20th Century, says in his book Society in Transition:
The relative decline in the importance of rural life and the urbanization of that which lingers on certainly constitutes one of the major turning points in the cultural and institutional history of mankind. The reduction of rural life and institutions to a subordinate position in Western civilization has veritably introduced a new epoch in human history.9
These social transformations profoundly affected traditional institutions. The most important of these, due to its unique and fundamental position, is the institution of the family. The advent of an urban and industrial society created a new type of family: the nuclear family. Its characteristics act powerfully as factors that bring about or aggravate family crises and the conflict between generations.
We will now compare the structure and benefits of the traditional family unit with the structure and harmful consequences of the modern day family unit.
The hard reality is that the institution of the family is undergoing a process of disintegration that has only accelerated over the last decades.
9) Harry Elmer Barnes, Society in Transition, pp. 559-560, Prentice-Hall Inc. New York, 1939 in Adolescence and Youth: The Process of Maturing by Paul H. Landis, McGraw-Hill, New York, 1945, p. 72.