Dilip K. Medhi


From the introduction:

Until recently, living in a joint family system was typical among Hindus and members of other religious groups in India. Living in an extended joint family was also a common practice. However, joint family groups and extended joint family living are now relatively rare, due to India’s economic and social developments over the past four decades or so. Currently, the most common family arrangement is that of the nuclear family, comprised of a father, mother and their children. In rural areas, this nuclear family unit operates within a number of more traditional expectations and arrangements, however. Within a rural Hindu family, for example, a woman’s status varies according to factors such as her age, her marital status, her relationship to different members of her family, her ability to bear children and her status as a mother. A young, newly wed woman may be treated differently by her in-laws than by her own parents; a young widow living in her husband’s family may be treated differently by her new family than she would be were her husband still alive; a daughter-in-law from a poor family may be received differently than she would be received were she from a wealthier family. Similarly, a young unmarried woman living with her natal family may face a degree of hostility from a stepmother that she would not face from her natural mother.

Author Biography

Dr. Dilip K. Medhi is a Reader, Department of Anthropology, Gauhati University, Guwahati, Assam, India.