Soaring Rents Promote Extended Families


One of the inevitable results of globalization, porous borders and the revolution
in transportation is, if not a homogeniazation then at least a frothy interweaving
of cultures.

On one hand the wealthy begin to look more and more alike as global
chic spreads like a virus, and it is increasingly possible to wake
up in a four-star hotel, go down to the lobby, eat breakfast and read
the newspaper without getting a clue as to what continuent, let alone
what country one is in.

On the other hand, every big city in the US is crowded with recent immigrants,
the office buildings are cleaned by a nocturnal army of foreign-born neatniks,
the sidewalks are covered with incense sellers, expediters and shoe
repairmen, informal open-air markets are sprouting like mushrooms after
a summer
rain, and the urban soundtrack resembles a world music festival mingling
with heavy industrial construction. The social globalization extends
to living arrangements.

Today’s Boston Globe has a good article on how the soaring rents
plus the local housing shortage have numerous multiple extended families
all living in one or two bedroom apartments, a common practice in many
parts of the world, coming soon to a flat near you:

"Apartment prices are so high, I can’t afford my own place yet," said
Sonji Brown. "I’m on a three-year waiting list for public housing
because they say we’re not priority. But I’m trying to save as much as
I can
to get an apartment by the new year."

Brown, 35, a single parent of seven children ages 2 to 18, is working
as a dietitian at a nursing home. She’s sharing a home with Vera Brown-Morrison,
her husband, and their three children — 13 people packed into the
modest, white clapboard home with one bath on Lynn’s west side.

"Family should stick together," she said. "It’s a little
overcrowded, especially because we only have one bathroom. The kids fight
there’s no privacy. But she’s my sister and I want to help."

Peter Wood, an associate professor of anthropology at Boston University,
said the concept of multiple families under one roof is common worldwide
but frowned upon in America, where privacy and individuality are highly

the Boston Globe

1 Comment

  1. David Eick

    October 15, 2007 @ 2:37 pm


    Hi. I was wondering if I could borrow the image on this page for a presentation. I’ll cite properly if you would please tell me the artist and name of the image. Thank you.
    David Eick
    Assistant Professor
    Department of Modern Languages
    Grand Valley State University
    Allendale, MI 49401