19 / 2004
Suzana C. Ziehl

Globalization, Migration and Family Diversity

Until recently, there has been little dialogue between scholars who have been researching and theorizing about globalization and those working in the field of family studies. It is often said that globalization is affecting family patterns but the exact nature of that effect, is seldom fleshed out. Family diversity has also become a major theme in family sociology, but the link between it, and globalization is seldom discussed in any detail. The purpose of this paper is to make a modest attempt at bringing together discussions of globalization and family diversity.
In the first part, the author considers some of the reasons for this lack of dialogue between globalization and family researchers. In the second, she looks at how globalization has affected family patterns in Europe. Finally, family patterns in South Africa, are compared to those of one European country: Great Britain. One of the main arguments raised is that globalization has had a minimal impact on the family patterns found in individual European societies and that regional differences persist within the European context. However, it is unlikely that these differences are due to globalization. Another argument put forward is that family diversity pertains at the global level. This becomes apparent when the family patterns of an African and European society are compared.

Susan S. Ziehl is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Industrial Sociology, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa. She holds B.Econ; B.Econ (Honours) and M.Econ degrees from the University of Stellenbosch and a PhD from Rhodes University. Her research interests and publications include family and household structures, feminism and modern reproductive technology, family law and multiculturalism, single-parent families and affirmative action.