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Sociology of Iraqi Families

Uploaded by spootyhead on Mar 06, 2007

Sociology of Iraqi Families

In the 1950's, a newly married American woman named Elizabeth Warnock Fernea accompanied her husband to a rural Iraqi village, El Nahra, where he was performing field research for his doctorate in anthropology. The adjustment for her was profound, because she lived in a mud hut with no indoor plumbing, didn't speak the local language, and found it advisable to wear the veil in order to fit in with the local conservative Islamic community. Under the advice of friends, Fernea transformed her journal into Guests of the Sheik, which covers the day-to-day life of the women in the tribe, the process of slowly making friends with them as she learned their language, and the local Shiite religious observances that she shared in. She talks about the veiling of women, the hard manual labor that is part of everyone's life, the religious customs, the food that people eat, the structure of society, and, most importantly, the many different aspects of family life.

Familial groups are the fundamental social units, regulating many activities that, in Westernized societies are the functions of political, economic, religious, or neighborhood groups. In Iraq, personal rights and obligations center on the extended family and lineage. The extended family is the “basic social unit” (pg 160).

A mutually protective attitude among relatives is taken as important. The father, brother, and sons are responsible for care of the women. They see to it that she has an adequate home, meals, clothing, etc. There is always a chance of a man taking on a second or third wife, as in the case of Sheik Hamid, who had three wives. With polygamous marriages, all the wives have a status in the family and will be taken care of by their respective children and a network of relatives associated with the husband.

The father or eldest male, in theory, has absolute authority over the activities of the members of the household, both within the confines of the house and outside. Each time Laila wanted to go somewhere with Beeja (Elizabeth), she pressed Beeja to ask Mr. Bob (Beeja’s husband) for permission if they could go, then Laila’s father would let her go. The father also decides what education his children will receive, what occupations his sons will enter, and, usually in consultation with his wife, whom his children...

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Uploaded by:   spootyhead

Date:   03/06/2007

Category:   Sociology

Length:   4 pages (888 words)

Views:   3655

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