Social Costs and Benefits of the Transformation of the Traditional Families in an African Urban Society

Social Costs and Benefits of the Transformation of the Traditional Families in an African Urban Society

Innocent Chirisa (University of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe), Liaison Mukarwi (Uinversity of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe) and Abraham Rajab Matamanda (Uinversity of Free State, South Africa)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2659-9.ch009


This chapter analysed the social costs and benefits of changing lifestyles and livelihoods adopted by the families in Africa to fit in the obtaining urban environments. The transformation is in a way to minimise the cost and maximise the benefits of urbanism. The net overall effect of the transformation has been increasing household poverty signified by poor incomes, family instability, increased nucleation of families and disbanding of family rural ties for the city. In most cases, this means increased vulnerability and insecurity of the traditional family. How then do the urbanised traditional families cope with city pressures? The study draws cases from South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Egypt these being countries where urbanisation levels are in critical variation due to varying circumstances including the removal of apartheid restrictions, armed conflict, economic instability, population explosion, existence of pristine conditions, possibility of overurbanisation and proclivity to maintaining tradition, respectively.
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Conceptual Framework

Urbanisation is invoking continuous transformation to the geographical landscape in many regions, Africa included (Agbaje, 2013; Dociund Dunarintu, 2012). Urbanisation, either due to rapid rural-urban migration or the extension of urban boundaries into peri-urban areas, has exposed the people to new urban lifestyles with benefits and problems therefrom. This led to a change in the change in the traditional family; the changes in the family are a response to the new pressures, needs and trends in both personal and national development for example the reduction of a family unit from being an extended and blotted to a small nuclear family can be a result of high cost of urban living, education, and access to health facilities. Not to escape mention is that the transformation of the traditional family has cost and benefits with which urban authorities must strive to minimise and maximise, respectively (Dociund Dunarintu, 2012). Given that the world is dynamic, the family transformation is an ongoing process in response to such changes in the family surroundings (ibid). This rapid transformation of lifestyles has to be planned for and put in place measures to contain the negative impacts therefrom since it comes with new demands and pressure on the urban system as a whole. The increased love for urban areas will lead to intensified shortages, more than it is today, of accommodation, water, sanitation facilities, schools and hospitals, food, and energy among others; the overall effect will be an accelerated decline of the urban quality and environmental degradation.

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