In the Middle East today, the issue of the family is an important
political and economic issue. The larger family unit is the basic unit
of social organization and the focus of current social change in the
The family in the traditional Middle Eastern society performs many
of the functions that are expected of the state, and has been at the
center of social organization in the three Arab patterns of living
(bedouin, rural and urban), but it is specifically important in the
tribal, peasants and urban poor societies.
In the West, the social and
economic responsibilities were taken on by the religious hierarchy
and then by the state. In the Middle East,
this has not taken effect in the same way, which makes the place
and function of the family so crucial.
Through the family, persons and groups inherit their religious, social
class and cultural identity.