Living arrangements in Sub-Saharan Africa between ethnicity and modernization

Giuseppe Gabrielli, Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II
Anna Paterno, Università degli Studi di Bari
Pietro Sacco, Università degli Studi di Bari

In Sub-Saharan Africa the phenomenology of living arrangements is of great interest owing to the extraordinary diversification and complexity of the traditional family patterns. In particular, the predominance of the enlarged family over the biological family is a feature that traditionally distinguishes the conception and the organization of the Sub-Saharan African family. It is a debatable question whether this feature is everlasting or it evolves with the deep economic and social changes occurring in Sub-Saharan African countries. We aim to analyse the living arrangements in several Sub-Saharan countries and in their main ethnic groups, attempting to enlighten the interaction between “modernization” and cultural heritage in shaping family patterns. A temporal perspective has been adopted, as well as the ethnic and rural/urban differentials. The analyses consider ten countries in different geographical areas of Sub-Saharan Africa, where at least two waves of Demographic and Health Surveys were carried out between 1990 and 2013. To detail the analyses, we also consider the most representative ethnic groups for each country (in all 38 ethnic groups). After recalling the theoretical background and present preliminary descriptive findings, the classical procedure of factor analysis is used with the principal components method, followed by an hierarchical classification analysis. Our results show that it is not possible to propose general models for the great traditional geographical areas in Africa. The trends and the rural-urban differentials are not exhaustively explained by modernization factors. The results are in line with the literature outcomes that supported the process of growing variability of living arrangements and the increase of new family models, rather than the existence of a convergence process on a single nuclear family pattern. Ethnic background is confirmed as a valid interpretative key, necessary to understand the cultural substrate in which the evolutive factors brought by globalization act.

See paper

 Presented in Session P3. Poster Session 3