Residents in rural areas are deeply affected by the real and inescapable effects of new images and life-styles – for example in India, where people are experiencing the gradual crumbling of the caste structure which once defined roles and relationships and guaranteed a significant role to everyone. In many rural areas, the challenges presented by change are so foreign and overwhelming that rigid fidelity to the archaic has become the automatic response. Kaleidoscopic shifts from the formerly fixed patterns of wider society lead the rural villager to defend desperately the traditional stability of those narrower contexts over which he still exercises some control.
Such a reaction is formalized in the position of the adult male members of the community. Early marriage, prolonged childbearing responsibilities, and a withdrawal from public leadership characterize the role of women in some societies. Obedience to parental authority and occupational tradition defines the style of youth. A determination to labour for the protection of his dependents' marginal subsistence typifies the adult male who, because he is its symbol and spokesman, sets the style of the family as well. As the one hope in the face of misunderstood alterations in the social status quo, the extended family resorts to a protective individualism. Because such propping-up of tradition requires great effort, individual creativity is ossified and little desire or opportunity arise for corporate, community-wide endeavour.