intangible cultural heritage


area : Steirisches Vulkanland
category : social practices
Since our very earliest beginnings, the family has formed the basis of human society. Today we find ourselves in the midst of a period of radical social change, in which the family risks being pushed aside in our modern, performance-driven society. The time is thus ripe to recognise that the family performs an invaluable service to our society, and has a much greater social value than we generally recognise.
Discussing the concept of family in public will often see you ridiculed as a social romantic. Who still needs a family today? In 2001, the birth rate in Vulkanland was still above the Styrian average, and today we lag behind. On average, approx. 30% of “families” in Vulkanland no longer have children. Averaged out, this equates to approx. 1.1 children per family. While 85% of households were run by a couple in 1981, this proportion has since dropped to approx. 70% on average. And the proportion of singles living alone itself makes up 17% of all households. At this rate, in 10 years’ time, only a minority of 34% of all households will comprise parents and child(ren). An interesting contrast to this dire prognosis is that for 92% of people, the family remains the most important thing in life, and 96% of youngsters in Vulkanland want to have a family and children themselves (see Population Census 2008). There is still hope.
This is because the family is an endless resource for society as a whole. It ensures generational continuity by passing on life to its “new” members. It also provides the setting for our very earliest education and experience-building: It is here that lifestyle culture, socialisation by means of a variety of values, through to right-headedness, is passed on. The family provides an arena for confidence, security, growth, communal meal times, relaxing, leisure, fun and games, support, protection and care (for the young, but also for family members who are ill or elderly). The family, with its house and garden, also provides major possibilities for self-sufficiency: home-made products, your own energy, building materials, clothing and natural remedies. All of this also transforms it into an economic unit, in which you can expand more easily than if you do it alone.
The family represents the most valuable, the most meaningful “shareholding” of the inhabitants of our Vulkanland. The strong family ties of our people add almost priceless value to our society.
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