Traditional vs. “Modern” Societies

I’m reading a book that involves tradional societies, African in this case. And, of course, what you first notice when reading about traditional societies or visiting them is the emphasis on family–large extended families who are together through thick and thin and often stay in one house in fairly large numbers.

We have that here too, I hear you saying. Well, yes, but it is different. We also have the “nuclear family”–what a strange choice of word. And families often live far apart and don’t see each other that often. But it is easier to have an “individual destiny” if that is important for you–perhaps especially easier for women to have an “individual destiny”.

So traditional societies seem to have greater tolerance for family members being close to them in large numbers, and modern societies have greater tolerance for people’s desires to be independent.

Is there a third way? Could we learn from each other?


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