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Bonding Ties

Janaki Rajan & Sweta Rajan

Edited by Aparajita Chowdhury , David K. Carlson and Cecyle K. Carson
Rawat Publications, Jaipur, 2006, pp. 328, Rs. 675.00

VOLUME XXX NUMBER 11 November 2006

The idea of family life education (FLE) evokes many images when it comes to India. The editors of the book under review remind us that FLE is relatively a new academic discipline and there exists no research-oriented theory based book on the subject. Preliminary search reveals this is not the case. A plethora of cross-national research exists on the role of the family in creating social reproductive labour1, changing role of family in the era of globalization, gender relations and intra-household inequalities within families2, the role of son-preference in female foeticide, work-family conflicts and well-being3, sharing of work and caring responsibilities; to name a few. Existing family literature is divided between normative ideologies of preserving family values, and the individual-centered view of the autonomous household. This book clearly follows the former traditional perspective.   The premise of the book appears to be that the family has always been at the foundation of Indian society. Family members are now being exposed to new ideas and are not prepared or equipped to face the challenging world of today. The authors assure that FLE has tremendous potential to create stable, healthy, and happy families.  The twelve contributors attempt to describe the situation of the various protagonists of the Indian family.   Aparajita Chowdhary  explains what FLE means. She distributes its subject matter around relationships and communications with a managerial approach towards human and material resources. Sub-sections are devoted to adolescents, adults, parents, young married couples, and elderly people. The accounts are however static and stereotypical. The same static approach is pursued by N. Jaya in the section ‘Stages and Tasks of the Family Life Cycle’. Developmental tasks of married couples, for instance, are prescribed in great detail, separately, under two columns for husband and wife (p. 98). The first task for husbands is “becoming established in an occupation”. The corresponding column for the wife is “making a home and managing the household”. Other tasks suggested for the wife are “becoming a financial helpmate in establishing the home and working until her husband is established, seeing work as secondary and possibly intermittent…and becoming a satisfying sexual partner”. Misprints further down this table, make for strange reading such as for the wife: “to be prepared to become domesticated married men”. Apart from proofing errors, this section has serious implications. They reinforce the traditional role of Indian women who are considered subservient to their husbands, whose income is ...

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