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Gashi Leart
Research Techniques
Instructor: Nita Luci
10/11/2011

Western Cultures and their influence in Kosovo
Albanian families after the war

When we talk about Iamilies we might know that it is a community which is part
oI a whole society. Aristotle in his book 'Politics I deIines Iamily as that speciIic Iorm
oI koinwnia (community, association) which integrates individuals into a common liIe
that enables them to become, as members oI an oikos, members oI a polis (political
community, city-state) as well. Creating a Iamily is a big contribution to society and to a
whole state in a way that it makes it bigger and stronger. Kathy D., a writer, would say
that Iamily bonds are a link to our beginning and a guide to our Iuture.(Kathy D.,2007).
Family in Kosovo has played a central role and remained in decades as the basic element
oI social regulation. Such has stood as a consequence oI social developments: the rule oI
a Ioreign state, a party system, lack oI democracy and a host oI other Iactors. But, the
concept oI the word 'Iamily is changing day by day. The importance oI it is changing
too. Since the world started to become more modern and civilized, there was a group oI
states who were touched more by this kind oI modernism. These states are the so-called
Western European countries. The United Nations Statistics Division published in 2011
considers Western Europe to consist oI the Iollowing nine countries: Austria, Belgium,
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France, Germany, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands and Switzerland.
On the other hand, the changing oI importance oI Iamily in western culture is inIluencing
the other not so modern states. One oI these states is also Kosovo which has experienced
a war during the period 1998-2000. Post-war Kosovo society along political, economic,
social and especially those being Iaced with a Ilood oI new and phenomena to consider
that seriously aIIect the substance not only national but above all that oI substance in this
Iamily case is our main Iocus. We will only Iocus on the changes that have happened in
the Iamily culture aIter this period. There are Iour main aspects in which the western
culture has inIluenced this country`s culture: attitude, communication, structure and the
traditions oI a Iamily.
One oI the main aspects that this culture may have impacted is the attitude oI the
members in the Iamily. During the time beIore war, woman used to be more
emancipated. 'Back then, it was better to be a man because beIore a woman and an
animal were considered the same thing, said Ms. Keqi, who has a bellowing baritone
voice, sits with her legs open wide like a man and relishes downing shots oI raki. 'Now,
Albanian women have equal rights with men, and are even more powerIul. I think today
it would be Iun to be a woman.(Dan BileIsky, 2008). In the cities women were able to
work in diIIerent kinds oI positions, like teachers, nurses, doctors and other kinds oI
important positions in society. Apart Irom legal constraints stemming Irom long-standing
patriarchal traditions, we also have to keep in mind the memory oI the 1990s, when
women were particularly hard hit when the Milosevic regime deprived them oI basic
healthcare, education, and employment. Women still do not have access to quality health
care in Kosovo. There was a time period, when in most villages men used to work and
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women stayed at home. Immediately aIter the war ended, women took a new position and
role in most oI the Iamilies. They were no longer the emancipated once, that period
ended. However in some rural places women have to give up Irom their inheritance. II,
then we address the Kosovar Iamily institution as the Ioundation or basis oI any healthy
society, we can see that at this stage we are developing two conIlicting tendencies, that
are being developed in parallel as a result oI total ignorance oI the institutions and
generally we as individuals and as society: one that has lead to uncontrolled
disintegration and the other has also lead to a disintegration oI the ingredients but with a
little more control.
According to a journal written by Valur Ingimundarson, Only 13 oI women in
Kosovo live on their own income (the corresponding percentage Ior men 41)?that
means that 87 are dependent on others Ior their livelihood.(Valur Ingimundarson, 2003)
Another attitude that has changed is that oI the children. When the war ended, the
Kosovars were more exposed to new modern things that earlier were prohibited to them.
Then the evolution oI the internet, the computers, cell-phones started and so, the children
started to think diIIerently. In this context, Iamily as the core institution oI society, is
being seriously threatened by deviant phenomena, such as extremely heightened conIlict
oI generations, the loss oI authority oI the head. They now weren`t as respectIul as in the
past. The internet and TV shows diIIerent cultures so, the children oI the Kosovar
Iamilies being exposed to these cultures, start changing their attitude too. They no longer
respect their parents. All they want is having Iun with Iriends Iorgetting all about the
Iamily. This is related to the Iact that parents are not having much Iree time to stay with
their children. In most oI the cases in Kosovo aIter war, both parents are working and
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since they don`t have time, they arrange a babysitter or the send their children in the
kinder garden at early age. BeIore war this used to be diIIerent. Children used to respect
their parents and listen to what they say and consult with them. Nowadays, children
spend more time in the streets rather than in the house. Then there is the Iather`s Iigure
which has also changed in the Iamilies oI today, the role oI Iather was not central
anymore. Now that women had more rights and started to work too, Iathers were no more
the main supporters oI the Iamily. Women became important too and men on the other
hand started to respect women more. The Iamily members` attitude had taken a new path.
A second aspect in which Western Cultures have changed Kosovo`s culture is also the
language spoken in the Iamily. BeIore war, men spoke the most whereas women and
children had to obey. AIter war, women became more aware oI their rights and started
speaking too. Women raised their voice and today there are still cases where women even
tend to beat their husbands. An article oI the date 11
th
oI August in the daily newspaper
'Tribuna Shqiptare is about violation in the Iamily. The statistics oI Kosovo Police say
that only this year there has been 244 reported cases oI violation in the Iamily, whereas
last year the number was 392. According to the Albanian sociologist Shaip Hasani these
cases oI violation in the Iamily come as a part oI problems inside the Iamily which than
are directly related to the daily social problems. (Daily Newspaper 'Tribuna
Shqiptare,11
th
oI August 2011, pp.8).
In Iact, despite the speed oI changes that are currently taking place in this institution,
expressed doubts crisis and general dilemma highlighted by experts in various Iields
(primarily sociologists and psychologists) sometimes it appears as excessive! But little
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analysis oI the police, judiciary and civil society particularly concerned with the degree
oI domestic violence make us doubt this optimistic conclusion.
The language has become diIIerent, in the way that now there are higher tones and
diIIerent street language used in the house. BeIore war, members oI the Iamily used to
respect each other especially the children. Children are now getting their education in the
streets and resembling it in the house. They hear a word with bad meaning and use it
inside the house too. So, language has taken a negative site towards the earlier once used.
The third and Iinal aspect spotted to have changed is the style in which a Iamily is
organized. In Western Europe another phenomena which is rising is the couples which
are living together but are not married. This phenomenon goes against the kosovar
tradition oI a Iamily being created only when the young couples join each other in a
traditional wedding. More and more girls want to live together with their boyIriend even
though they are not married and this leads very oIten to conIlict between the children and
the parents. In some cases the couples parents have declined contact with both the man
and the woman that are living together.
Then there is another extreme change that has happened in the aspect that women no
longer want to live with their parents in law. Peter Laslett, in his book 'Characteristics oI
the Western European Family describes how the North-West European countries,
especially the British Isles, Northern France, the Low Countries and Scandinavia Iamily
groups had been simple in composition and quite modest in size Ior many centuries
beIore industrialization. Married children only seldom lived with their parents, and two
couples in one Iamily household were quite unusual. But in Kosovo, a boy leaving his
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parents to go and live with his wiIe or girlIriend is a sign oI disrespect and it can be
perceived as neglecting his duty to his Iamily by leaving them to Iend Ior themselves.
It is true that the Iamily group has become much smaller in the 20th century,
servants have disappeared, and solitary living has grown enormously in our own
day.(Peter Laslett,2011). This is happening in Kosovo too. BeIore war, in Kosovo,
women were obliged to live in the same house as their parents in law. But this has
changed, especially in the cases where man lives in urban areas. In these cases, women
desire to take their husbands to the city and live with them there. That`s why many
couples are creating their Iamily nowadays in the cities. The new Iamilies created are also
smaller in size with less and less children being born by the 'modern couples. The
reason Ior having Iew kids is most likely that new parents believe that one has it easier
taking care oI one or two children and giving them a better and more secure liIe and
educated them better. II this truly works still remains to be seen because it is obvious that
with every generation there seems to be a more spoiled youth.
'When Iamily is not very important to the adults, it certainly won't be important
to the children (Barbara A.Black). This could only be understood as a kind oI warning
about the new way in which Iamilies are being structured. Most people in Kosovo view
Iamily not as necessary as it might have been 100 years ago when having a big Iamily
made the diIIerence between survival and extinction. Now, many children do not mean
that a Iamily will have it better Iinancially as agriculture is not the primary source oI
income in Kosovo and there is no need Ior a Iather to have at least 5 sons to work on the
Iields. Still it can be a lot easier to overcome hard times iI one has brothers and sisters to
help out. It`s important that children understand the real concept oI Iamily as lately it has
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been conIusing Ior younger generations to percept oI what is being expected oI them and
what they should do when it comes to making important decisions like getting married.
Another aspect in which the Western Culture has inIluenced is also the Iamily traditions.
Such are: engagements, weddings and Iood. In the period beIore war, Kosovars used to
be well-known Ior their traditions in engagements and weddings. BeIore the inIluence oI
western cultures, the parents oI the daughter Iound a match Ior the girl and engaged her
without asking. The grandIather, Iather and uncle oI the boy used to come and ask Ior the
'hand oI the daughter which means they asked Ior permission Irom the Iather oI the
daughter to engage the couple. On the internet blog called
'liIestylemadesimple.blogspot.com a writer called Nora describes the wedding like this:
'First oI all, the man has to go and ask the girl`s parents Ior approval in order to get
engaged to their daughter. Once the parents give their approval, the next step is Ior the
couple to date and go ring shopping, but most important everybody that knows them has
to be inIormed about the engagement news. This has changed in the period post war.
Today, the boys and girls Iind their soul mate and then decide themselves when to get
engaged. The same system was also Ior marriage. Couples used to get married without
knowing each other. Their parents arranged their marriage and so they Iound themselves
married to a person they have never met. But, this kind oI marriage has showed amazing
results. There are couples who got married this way but live happily and have a healthy
Iamily nowadays. Jane Jurgens, an American writer while describing the Albanian
weddings says that usually, an engagement ceremony is held between the two Iamilies
and the bride is given a gold coin as a token oI the engagement. A celebration is held at
the home oI the bride's parents and the Iuture bride is given giIts and sweets.
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ReIreshments are usually served. A second celebration is given by the Iamily oI the
groom and the bride's Iamily attends. At these celebrations, small Iavors oI candy-coated
almonds ( kuIeta ) are exchanged.(Jane Jurgens, 2007).But this doesn`t happen anymore.
The couples nowadays just organize a weeding in a Restaurant and invite people Irom
both Iamilies. Then, in this aspect Iood is also changing. There used to be some
traditional Ioods that used to be made in the Iamilies like Ilija, krelana etc. The children
used to love them, but now, they don`t like them anymore. These traditional Ioods are
being replaced by more modern once like pizzas and diIIerent Iast Ioods. But, the
journalist Besa Beqiri claims that Kosovo's cuisine is very compatible with its continental
climate. The daily Kosovo menu, highlighted by a variety oI meat and pies, synchronizes
well with the cold winters and hot summers. With its stormy history oI conIlict and
conquest, Kosovo has developed a cuisine to which Albanian, Turkish, Serbian, Croatian,
Greek and Italian cuisines have all contributed. (Besa Beqiri, 2009).So, it is a pity that
this traditional Iood is not appreciated anymore by the youngsters.
A lot has changed in Kosovo aIter war, and as a country which has suIIered a lot and had
been isolated, it is now inIluenced by every new modern thing that it happens to see. And
the Iamily being one oI the most important parts oI a society has also experienced
changes. But still even aIter changing in the way oI thinking, the way oI speaking and the
way oI looking, there is still some respect leIt in some oI the Iamilies. Maybe this is the
reason why Kosovo has still not deviated that much, because there still exists the
importance oI a Iamily as a community oI a state and a guide to the Iuture.


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ReIerence:
1. Beqiri, B.(16
th
oI January 2009). Kosovo residents enfoy diverse traditional
foods.SETimes.17
th
oI November 2011.retrieved Irom:
http://www.setimes.com/cocoon/setimes/xhtml/enGB/Ieatures/setimes/Ieatures/2009/01/
16/Ieature-02
2. BileIsky, D.(25
th
oI June 2008). Albanian Custom Fades. Woman as Family Man.New
York Times. 17
th
oI November 2011.retrieved Irom:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/25/world/europe/25virgins.html?pagewantedall
3.Ingimundarson, V.(7
th
oI October 2003).Under Patriarchy and Peacekeeping. Women
in Kosovo since the War. The Centre Ior Women`s and Gender Studies (RIKK). 9
th
oI
November. Retrieved Irom: https://rikk.hi.is/?pageid873
4. Jurgens, J.(2007). Albanian Americans.Advameg. 17
th
oI November 2011.retrieved
Irom: http://www.everyculture.com/multi/A-Br/Albanian-Americans.html
5. Kathy, D.(4
th
oI October 2007).Family values. The importance of strong family
bonds.Helium.9
th
oI November 2011.retrieved Irom:
http://www.helium.com/items/629105-Iamily-values-the-importance-oI-strong-Iamily-
bonds
6. Laslett, P.(2011). Characteristics of the Western European Family. London Review oI
Books. 9
th
oI November 2011.retrieved Irom: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v02/n20/peter-
laslett/characteristics-oI-the-western-european-Iamily
7. Nora (9
th
oI September 2010). Albanian Marriage Traditions.SimplelyIestyle.17
th
oI
November 2011.retrieved Irom:
http://liIestylemadesimple.blogspot.com/2010/09/albanian-marriage-traditions.html
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8. Tribuna Shqiptare Newspaper(11
th
oI August 2011).Papunsia shkakton dhunn n
familfe.p.8
9. Provencal, V.The family in Aristotle. Acadia University. 9
th
oI November 2011.
retrieved Irom: http://www.mun.ca/animus/2001vol6/provencal6.htm
10. http://www.helium.com/items/950858-Iamily-values-the-importance-oI-strong-
Iamily-bonds.

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