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Family Ties in Western Europe: Persistent Contrasts

David Sven Reher
Population and Development Review
Vol. 24, No. 2 (Jun., 1998), pp. 203-234
Published by: Population Council
DOI: 10.2307/2807972
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2807972
Page Count: 32
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Family Ties in Western Europe: Persistent Contrasts
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Abstract

In the Western world it is not difficult to identify areas where families and family ties are relatively "Strong" an others where they are relatively "weak." There are regions where traditionally the family group has had priority over the individual, and others where the opposite has tended to happen, with the individual and individual values having priority over everything else. The geography of these family systems suggests that the center and northern part of Europe, together with North American society, has been characterized by relatively weak family links, and the Mediterranean region by strong family ties. There are indications that these differences have deep historical roots and may well have characterized the European family for centuries. There is little to suggest that they are diminishing today in any fundamental manner. The way in which the relationship between the family group and its members manifests itself has implications for the way society itself functions. Politicians and public planners would do well to consider the nature of existing family systems when designing certain social policies.

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