The fundamental changes occurring to families in the 21st century can be classified into two different categories, depending on the internal or the external perspective that is used in the analysis. The external perspective proposes an analysis of the sociodemographic changes that have occurred to families under the impact of the external factors of the 21st century. The sociodemographic changes are characterized both by the numbers, by a quantitative reflection of families, and by the relationships that are formed within each family.
From the first perspective, the 21st century has imposed both changes in the number of families (some cultures, notably the Western ones, have encountered decreases in size because of an increased reluctance of individuals to get married) and in the formation of these family groups. As such, in many of these family groups, the norm has translated from a man-woman marriage as the basis of family life to a reality that comprises single-parents, gay or lesbian family groups or extended family holds. This best reflects the fact that the fundamental changes occurring in family worldwide embody the idea that "families are not static entities," "families are composed, decomposed, and recomposed again with new members" (Keller et al. ).
On a different level, internal at this point, changes in families also imply shifts in the relationships between the members of the families, notably between husband and wife and between child and parent. Despite the fact that some suggest the role of the woman continues to remain that of the keeper of the household despite the changes that society has made over the past decades (Roopmarine, Gielen, 2005), this statement has to be considered in a context where more and more women assume jobs, while also balancing their role as household leaders. At the same time, in some societies, most notably some in Northern Europe for example, the men begin more and more to substitute the women in that role. All these can be seen as a direct impact of globalization, but also as a natural evolution of the respective societies.
On the other hand, relationships change between children and parents in the same household, mainly as a response to globalization. With globalization, children find that the easier access to information enables them to question the authority of the parents within the family. In countries such as those in Western Europe, the tendency of teenagers and young adults to quickly leave the household and family in order to make their own way in life has only been exacerbated by the globalization tendencies.
However, this is not necessarily always the case and authors have showed that in some countries where the effects of globalization are strongly felt, the changes in the relationships in the family are minimal. One such example is India, where globalization has not impacted in any way the tendency of the children to remain within the household or close to the family despite potential offers that the global environment could propose. In fact, it is shown that some children prefer to leave together in the same apartment building, for example, after leaving the family and still have the meals within the household (Roopmarine, Gielen, 2005).
2. In answering this question, it is important to note that, in the case of many societies, the changes that occur are not necessarily related to the evolutions imposed by globalization, but rather by the internal social processes that encourage the development of those societies outside globalization, despite the fact that the society participates actively in other processes within the globalization framework, such as the economic processes. One such example could be Egypt and the way that changes occur here to family and the role of the family in society and in the lives of the individuals.
In many ways, in a country like Egypt, the culture resists the process of social change in the face of globalization by adapting itself to change and proposing an internal process of change as an alternative to the one within the globalization framework. For example, in the case of Egypt, the family is "no longer the only source for socialization" (Roopmarine, Gielen, 2005), this function being divided now between several entities present in the lives of the individual, such as the school and social and sports clubs. With this type of small and internally generated transformations, the role and place of the family in the Egyptian society does not go through the big changes that globalization imposes in other societies.
In other cases, such as in the Chinese society, for example, resistance and avoidance to the changes imposed by globalization come, in fact, from the very strong underlying perceptions about the role of the family in the Chinese society. One of the Chinese sayings points out that "blood is thicker than water." With such a proposition at hand, even if small changes do occur (such as a greater movement by the children after adolescence), in the Chinese society the relationships between the members of the family continue to remain very close and are usually determining parts of their actions in society.
In the case of the Chinese society, it is also the government and its actions that promote resistance to change. With some of the policies, such as the one-child policy, the government affects the demographics of the family and, at the same time, supports a certain pattern of family life in which three generations live under the same roof. In the case of the Chinese society, as well as other developing countries, one should also add the economic constraints that also imply a resistance to change.
As seen, occassionally, it is the governmental actions and the laws that are enacted that fight against the changes that globalization sometimes proposes in different societies. Nevertheless, in some societies, the effects are actually reversed: while the Italian government had proposed laws to limit the number of divorces in the country, the actual effect was that fewer people are willing to get married. As in the case of the Chinese society, the action of the Italian government had been conceived as a resistance to the social changes brought about by globalization.
3. The German and Chinese families have been selected for this comparison. The first difference between the two types of families that can be noticed refers to the number of generations that is generally included in a traditional family. In the German case, the families have at most two generations, parents and children, while the Chinese household still includes one of the grandparents, either from the mother or the father size. The explanation for this relates mostly to tradition: in Germany, this has been the practice starting with the 19th century, when economic constraints imposed such a model that is still in use. At the same time, in the Chinese cultural heritage, the family is seen as encompassing a larger number of generations. However, this trend is beginning to change in China, under the influence of globalization.
One of the most interesting aspects to be compared between the two societies is that of children. First, globalization has impacted the role of the woman in the German society and has decreased the birth rates in this country after 1990, following the reunification of the country. As more and more women assume a role in society that is translated towards that of contributor to the household income and, even more so, to the individual desire to promote one's career (all caused by globalization factors), the birth rates have decreased in the country. Nevertheless, similar to the Chinese society, this has not yet become a trend and families in Germany continue to remain traditional in terms of the way each of the parent contributes to the development of the family, with the woman continuously in charge of the household (Vaskovics, 1999).
In the Chinese society, the one-child policy that has been imposed by the government for decades has not significantly impacted the overall demography of the country, but studies have become interested in how the relationships between children and parents and, more notably, the development of the children are impacted by this policy and by the number of children in a household. The number of households with one child has increased and has become dominant.
Despite the fact that China is still considered a developing country, it is more so in terms of the average standard of living rather than through its integration and contribution to the global economic system. In other words, the country is fully integrated into this system, but it remains relatively and in many areas of the country a "have not." This means that some of the constraints that the Chinese families still face may be translated into less access to education and information for the children and an occasional reliance on tradition rather than on the new developments when making the rules for the family as the basic unit of society. The political regime and the additional constraints deriving from that increase…