Families in Serbia
within the context
of domestification
of everyday life
Smiljka Tomanović
Department of Sociology, Faculty of Philosophy
University of Belgrade
1989-2014: Twenty-five Years After. What has happened to the
Societies in Central and Southeast Europe since the Fall of the
Iron Curtain?
International Conference
Department of Sociology, University of Graz
September 18-20 2014
The starting point
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a withdrawal of everyday life in Serbia from the
public sphere of social institutions into the private
sphere of families and households domestification of everyday life.
private sphere has become the basis for everyday
maintenance of social actors – family, household,
and neighborhood became localities of work, leisure,
social life, security, etc.
the consequences of such social development trend
for family life in Serbia - ambiguous effects for
families and their members.
The context
Turbulent (anomic) post-socialist
transformation:
 the absence of economy restructuration
 unregulated labour market
 high share of informal economy
 unemployment and precarious employment
 weak social institutions and systems
The context
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pushed social actors towards combining
different forms of self-supporting households
strategies in terms of self-provision of
resources and services
Southern European sub-protective (familistic)
policy regime – families provide substitutes
for institutional deficits
The trends
Considering household structure:
 constant increase of one–person households (to 22.33%
of all households in 2011*) – due to ageing population
 decrease, but still high share of extended family
households (18% of family households in 2011*)
Considering family forms:
 constant slow decrease of share of nuclear families with
children (52.1% of nuclear families in 2011; 36.37% of all
households in 2011*)
 constant slow increase of share of one-parent families
(17.3% of nuclear families in 2011; 12.05% of all
households in 2011*)
 relatively stable marriages (low crude divorce rate
around 1); low share of cohabitations (3.83% population
over 15 in 2011*) and other forms of family life
* data source: Census 2011
The trends
Considering functions:
Family households take over and develop many functions:
 economic: they employ diversified household economic
strategies, with combining formal and informal work,
including starting small business (Babović, 2006)
 housing strategies are also based on family resources
(Petrović, 2005; Tomanović et al. 2012)
 taking over reproductive work – care for children and
elderly; material and organisational help; psychological
support, etc. (Milić, 2004; 2005; Tomanović, 2005;
2010)
 strong social capital stemming from the family - both
expressive (“bonding”) and instrumental (“bridging”) –
helped social actors in “getting by” and “getting ahead” in
their everyday life (Milić, 2004; Tomanović, 2008; 2010)
Consequences
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
a trend of preserving the existing family
status as social actors’ strategy for coping
with risks of turbulent social transformation
the transformations of family life in Serbia
towards post-modern forms and relations and
post-materialistic values have been delayed,
while traditional patterns have been
conserved
Consequences
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slow modernization of partnership, in terms of
emerging new partnership and family forms (e.g.
cohabitations, one-parent or step families, etc.); the
mostly valued and most common form is marital
family with children (Bobić, 2003, 2004; Tomanović,
Ignjatović, 2006)
gender divisions of domestic work and distribution
of power are still based on strong patriarchal
patterns (e.g. Babović, 2006; 2009)
gender conflict - incidences of domestic violence in
Serbia are increasing (Nikolić-Ristanović, 2002;
Spasić, 2012), but divorce rate is still rather low
Consequences
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extended family household, which still makes
significant share of households in Serbia, has
proved to be more functional as its members gather
their economic, social and cultural resources
(Babović, 2009; Petrović; 2009; Miletić- Stepanović,
2011).
family violence risks are higher (Miletić- Stepanović,
2004), as well as that gender division of domestic
work is even more asymmetrical in multigenerational
family households (Tomanović, Ignjatović, 2004;
Miletić- Stepanović, 2011; Tomanović et al. 2012).
Consequences
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Since young people postpone family formation and
remain in parental household as young adults,
intergenerational relations become more complex.
They are also ambiguous: the research findings
report that there is increasing intergenerational
solidarity and conflicts at the same time (e.g.
Tomanović et al., 2012).
Families, thereby, become structural constraints
for individualization of partnership, parenthood,
transition to adulthood, as well as for emancipation
and of their members, notably women and young
people.
Consequences
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Hindered modernization of family life is reflected
on the level of values
Patriarchal values orientation is decreasing but
is still high (Pešić, 2006) - it has been reinforced
by public discourse
Traditional values are fostered in families in
Serbia (Milić, 2010)
post-materialist values and orientations have not
been accepted, not even among young people
(Pavlović, 2009).
Discussion
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relying of actors on resources (material and social)
from private sphere presumes strengthening of its
foundations – statuses and relations within domestic
domain remain unquestioned and resilient to
changes
private realm as the basis of socioeconomic
reproduction makes it the core of reproduction of
status quo, since it sets structural constraints for
change of both family structure, functions, relations,
and values
Relevance for the issues of social integration and
social cohesion?
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References:
Babović, Marija (2006) »Socio-ekonomske strategije i odnosi unutar domaćinstva«, u S. Tomanović, prir. Društvo u previranju, Beograd,
ISI FF, str. 81-100.Babović, Marija (2009) Postsocijalistička transformacija i socio-ekonomske strategije domaćinstava i pojedinaca u
Srbiji, Beograd, ISI FF.
Bobić, Mirjana (2003) Brak ili/i partnerstvo, demografsko-sociološka studija, ISI FF, Beograd
Bobić, Mirjana (2005) „Transformation of Marriage – Strategies of Conservation and Delay of Changes“. in: Milić, A. et al. Transformation
and Strategies. Everyday Life in Serbia at the Beginning of the Third Millennium, Belgrade: Institute for Sociological Research, Faculty of
Philosophy, 223-238.
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fakultet - Odeljenje za sociologiju, magistarski rad
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Thank you
for your attention!
[email protected]
https://fvm.academia.edu/SmiljkaTo
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Families in Serbia within the context of domestification of everyday life