Generational "Structural Flexibility" in the United Arab Emirati Family: Lewis Coser's Functions of Social Conflict Revisited

  • Mohammed Abdel Karim Al Hourani


This study examined, to what extent the structure of spousal relationship in United Arab Emirati' (UAE) family has been changed from rigidity to flexibility among a sample of 168 pairs of daughters and mothers (N=336). Three propositions were derived from Coser's theory "functions of social conflict" to measure the structural flexibility: releasing the antagonistic claims, interdependency and reproducing of consensual agreements. Findings revealed that daughters and mothers reported a low level of structural flexibility in terms of the three propositions, however, daughters reported more flexibility than their mothers. This result indicates that the rapid and comprehensive change of the infrastructures didn’t lead to a parallel change in the nontangible elements of UAE culture which are highly rooted in a composition of social traditions and Islamic values.