Social Change, New Paradigms, and Implications for Families

  • Bahira Sherif Trask


Accelerated systemic social change is closely associated with globalization. I have argued throughout this work that conventional narratives that approach families, nation-states, or economies as limited static entities, no longer capture the rapid macro–micro interactions that are the fundamental basis of this change. Instead, valuable insight into contemporary social phenomena requires a transnational, dynamic approach that depicts the nature, consequences, and policy implications of these processes. As Robinson (1998) explains, “Social science should be less concerned with static snapshots of the momentary than with the dialect of historic movement, with capturing the central dynamics and tendencies in historic processes. The central dynamic of our epoch is globalization, and the central tendency is the ascendance of transnational capital, which brings with it the transnationalization of classes in general……Determinancy on the structural side is shifting to new transnational space that is eroding, subsuming, and superseding national space as the locus of social life, even though this social life is still ‘filtered through’ nation-state institutions. This situation underscores the highly contradictory nature of transnational relations as well as the indeterminancy of emergent transnational social structure.” (p. 581). Robinson’s observations draw attention to the need for new paradigms that allow us to capture the decentralization of power, the transnational nature of phenomena, and the rapidity and movement that are inherent features of contemporary social life.

The need for new approaches and paradigms is particularly acute for understanding contemporary social change with respect to families. As our world becomes increasingly interconnected through economic integration, technological and communication advances, and political transformations, the sphere of the family is a primary arena where globalizing processes are realized. Nonetheless, as has been discussed, observers and analysts of globalization, and of family life, have neglected this critical juncture for investigating contemporary social change. Despite a general acknowledgement of the complexities and social significance inherent in globalization, most analyses remain top-down, focused on the global economy, corporate strategies, and political streams. This limited perspective on globalization has had profound implications for understanding social life and social transformation.


Labor Force Family Domain Gender Ideology Family Arrangement Political Stream 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Human Development and Family StudiesUniversity of DelawareNewarkUSA

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