SURVIVING INDIGENOUS BERBER CUSTOMS, Arab and Jewish family practices, and European influences have all combined to form contemporary kinship practices, family organization, marriage traditions, and notions of gender relations in Morocco. With expansion of Western-style education, closer contacts with peoples of other cultures (including Africans, Asians, and Europeans),and continuing changes in socioeconomic structures and individual lifestyles, the Moroccan family has been responding to dynamics that will continue to shape it. Since the 1970s, for instance, most of the newly educated elite, especially those who received their degrees in France, Belgium, Spain, the United States, or other Western countries, have returned home to make marriages and establish what is often referred to as a more "individualistic" family practices. Whereas the emergent class demonstrates a preference for a smaller and easily manageable family size, most Moroccans have continued to follow tradition with a preference for polygamous marriages, large families, and close kinship and family ties.
As a universal institution, the family is both an organic and social unit of acculturation. Members are linked by blood, and new members are incorporated through marriages. For the welfare and continuity of a unit, members often maintain a common residence as well as follow instituted norms for production and reproduction. This communal relationship ensures generational continuity through prescribed codes of sexual relationships. Therefore, similar to what is found in most African and Asian societies, family life is at the center of Moroccan social order, and children are socialized in accordance with family traditions as an integral part of the wider societal values, expectations, taboos,and religion. In most parts of the so-called Third World, where social security rarely exists, the family fills that vacuum, with the more privileged assisting the poorer members with the basic necessities of life. Young people in Morocco live at home and participate in social events arranged by the family until they are old enough to go to school, learn a trade, or pursue a career that may take them away from home. Traditionally, it is expected that male children will continue to contribute to the welfare of their families; hence, sons tend to remain in their family home after marriage and raise their own families within the extended family structure. In Morocco, however, the sons are free to set up their own households and retain the family's name when the father dies. Although most people still conform to this tradition, the younger generations are gradually opting to live independently with their nuclear families. As it is in most parts of the world, kinship in Morocco is structured along patrilineal lines, the organization of a household based on male blood ties.