21st century families

Spanish society has experienced many demographic, social and economic changes in the last decades, since it has, turning from being a poor country according the European standards, politely conservative and isolated its environment, socially traditional and catholic, with low levels of development and education, in the year 1960, into a rich country in the year 2000, richer than it had ever seen ,with an economy, politics and society being closer to the European ones, with a more educated, cosmopolitan and consuming population who is ideologically more flexible and tolerant, less traditional.

This evolution has had consequences in the family institution. Spanish family finds itself in a period of deep transformations, which concerns not only its structure but also dynamics of processes and roles played inside the family.

Paying attention to structural changes on the one hand, we can notice that multiple or complex homes, id est, those in which various family cores lived together, have reduced dramatically, and that, “postnuclear” families, together with traditional nuclear families , id est, a married couple with their sons and daughters, have more and more presence: non- marital unions; couples without descendants; “reconstituted or combined” families, id est, originated by previous unions; homosexual couples  , and, of course, one parent families , which can be created by a biological or adoptive motherhood or paternity on their own, as a result of partner’s death, divorce or annulment of couple’s link. These different genetic circumstances are not simple anecdotes, but they make up different vital experiences which provide with an unequal access to social privileges. As part as one parent families, single women’s collective would have a series of special characteristics being the main aim of our analysis.

On the other hand, as far as dynamics of processes and roles played inside the family, it is obvious that women’s increasing access to education and paid employment as well as ideological change in which they are are causing progressive changes in the family dynamics. Therefore, roles played by men and women inside the family have been approaching each other, at a faster pace in its private aspect, and at a more slowly pace in the private one. Especially single women find greater difficulties to have access to work life, mainly arisen from lack of training and restrictions imposed by family charged.

All these changes have lead to a new concept of family which could be defined as “a group of people, united by relationships of affection and mutual support, personally implicated in a project of life in common aimed to be lasting”. This acceptation and recognition of family and life situations, which had been rejected or ignored in the past, is being traduced into a process of legal comparison of different kinds of relationships as well as different kinds of affiliations.
In this context, single mothers’ situation in Spain is still being ignored up to the point that many of these families are not conscious of the fact that they have the same rights and duties than any other kind of family.