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‘Doing Family’: Two Cases in Contemporary Syria

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Family and household compositions are highly varied in contemporary Syria. The variation is to a large extent related to rural-urban habitation, class background, and ethnic or religious affiliation. Rural, poor, and Sunni Muslim Syrians, for example, tend to have larger families and economic interdependencies, while urban, better off, and minorities tend to have smaller and more independent family and household units. But despite such differences there's a general understanding and acceptance that marriage and parenthood is how women and men become adults. Many Syrian families and households do not, however, conform to these norms. In this article empirical material collected in northeast Syria since the late 1970s will illustrate the differences between an urban and a rural family. The case of each family illustrates the great heterogeneity of doing and talking family in contemporary Syria but also shows how local family ideals are reaffirmed.

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