July 21-23, 2020, Cambridge UK

3 DAYS / 10 Workshops
MORE THAN 200 ACADEMIC PAPERS

Family Changes in the Context of Social Changes in the Gulf Region

Several developments affecting the Gulf family or emanating from it have emerged recently. The accelerated rate of modernization and the unprecedented socioeconomic, political, and demographic changes have implications for the well-being of Gulf families that require better understanding. However, there has been little research on modern family life in the Gulf countries. The workshop will seek to provide a space for dialogue and discuss ...


Several developments affecting the Gulf family or emanating from it have emerged recently. The accelerated rate of modernization and the unprecedented socioeconomic, political, and demographic changes have implications for the well-being of Gulf families that require better understanding. However, there has been little research on modern family life in the Gulf countries. The workshop will seek to provide a space for dialogue and discussion on family issues – seen as critical to the future of the region. The proponents of this workshop have attempted to examine contemporary trends and issues in the formation of families over the life course and how they interact 2 with family-oriented social policies of modern welfare states in the Gulf region. The workshop will discuss the centrality of the family in state polices that attempt to address the challenges that face the family. It will also provide a context in which to understand how family relationships and social policies can promote child well-being. 

Objectives and Scope Over the last three decades forces have disrupted the established patterns of family life in the Arabian Gulf societies. These forces include urbanization, technology transfer, educational progress, different patterns of emigration, globalization, changes in the status of women, and the advent of new ideological implications concerning social equality, social justice and human rights. These changes led to contraction or decline in traditional family roles, changes in norms and attitudes toward family life, the rise in a culture that attributed great social significance to symbols of material differentiation, changes in family structure, increasing rates of divorce, delayed marriage, and shifting patterns of female labor force participation. Women’s empowerment and leadership have become the cornerstones for many national and regional development initiatives in the Gulf. Traditional cultural values and social norms of parental behavior are in flux as are the timing and means of procreation and the customary gender division of labor in household production. Fewer people are getting married; couples who marry are doing so later in life, splitting up more frequently, having fewer children and living longer than ever before. The rise of the new phenomenon of remaining unmarried and the “spinsterhood crisis”, especially among well-educated middle-class people, and the weakened role of the elder generation are additional social changes. Many Gulf families are dependent on foreign babysitters (maids/servants), a dependence which may carry negative connotations because it is associated with socialization of children and of young family members by individuals who may not share traditional Gulf social values. Social media influences the values, traditions and practices of Gulf youth and complicates socialization by their families. Despite short- and long-term effects, family violence, child abuse, and the maltreatment of toddlers and adolescents have been underreported and not adequately documented in the Gulf countries, with the exception of a few scholars. These changes have created new pressures and needs over the course of family life. Among the Gulf countries, existent welfare state policies have been reformed and new ones drafted in response to the challenges posed by the changing patterns of family dynamics. Different types of child care arrangements have emerged, along with policies for the care of elderly family members. Diverse public measures have been implemented to strengthen the family, and to harmonize work and family life. The proposed workshop examines contemporary trends and issues in the formation of families over the life course and how they interact with family-oriented social policies of modern welfare states in the Gulf region. The life-course perspective extends the conventional analyses of family policies, which tend to emphasize public programs and benefits clustered around efforts to harmonize work and family life during the 3 early years of childrearing. The workshop will discuss the centrality of the family in state polices that attempt to address the challenges that face the family. The workshop especially welcomes research on aspects of modern family life that include: family relationships, diverse household structures, fertility patterns, and the fluctuating division of household/market labor over the course of family life in modern times. Also welcome are historical, demographic, and legal trends in marriage and divorce in different Gulf countries and the policy implications of those trends, the setting and issues which contemporary family policies have been designed to address, theoretical issues concerning gender relations, family culture and the role of the state.




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Workshop

Directors


Dr. Anis

Ben Brik

Associate Professor -
College of Public Policy, Hamad Bin Khalifa University



Dr. Jennifer

E. Lansford

Research Professor, Sanford School of Public Policy / Faculty Fellow, Center for Child and Family Policy -
Duke University



Dr. Abdallah

M. Badahdah

Associate Professor of Sociology Department of Sociology and Rural Studies -
South Dakota State University


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