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Should We Worry about Family Change?

Should We Worry about Family Change?

  • Book Info
    Should We Worry about Family Change?
    Book Description:

    Over the past quarter-century, the pace of family change in most Western countries has been extremely rapid; we have witnessed the substantial erosion of the traditional male-breadwinner, two-parent family form. This change inherently makes obsolete those laws and policies that assume the breadwinner/homemaker family structure.

    Should We Worry about Family Change?unpacks the current controversies and larger issues surrounding family change: the nature of family change; the impact of family change on the lives of women; and the need for amendment to our social policies and laws to reflect today's diverse family patterns. Drawing on her vast understanding of the historical development of the family and the social policies that have attempted to meet familial concerns, Lewis comments on such pivotal topics as absent fathers, the increasing economic independence of women, and the effects of the rise of cohabitation.

    Lewis ultimately suggests that there are policy options available to increase the choices men and women make about their contributions to family life and to promote family responsibility. Drawing on a wide range of literature, cross-national data, and policy approaches, Lewis engages her readers in a highly public and timely debate.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7992-4
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-x)
    Neville Thompson

    The Joanne Goodman lectures were established at the University of Western Ontario in 1975 to honour the memory of the elder daughter of the Honourable Edwin A. Goodman and Mrs Goodman of Toronto. Each year the university invites a scholar to deliver three lectures on some aspect of the history of the English-speaking peoples, particularly those of the Atlantic Triangle of Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States, that will be of interest to members of the university community and the general public. The list of those who have participated over a quarter of a century indicates the distinction...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Introduction: The Decline of the Traditional Male-Breadwinner, Two-Parent Family
    (pp. 1-14)

    In their classic 1953 text on the family Burgess and Locke provided a case study of a typical American family from the perspective of a child, as represented in the following excerpt:

    My family, consisting of Mother, Father, and myself, has always been very closely knit ... The harmony in our family results from the democratic or companionship relationship. My father is the chief breadwinner of the family; however, all of his decisions are reached only after discussions with Mother. Mother shares in the financial business of the family by keeping and managing the budget. In late years I have...

  6. 1 Behavioural Change
    (pp. 15-44)

    The traditional family form has changed in two key respects: the pattern of womenʹs and, to a lesser extent, menʹs contribution to the family in regard to both financial support and care, and the structure of the family itself. In both respects there are signs of increasing ʹindividualization.ʹ Indeed, as I shall argue in Chapter 3, it is tempting for policy makers to conclude that, given the changes in family structure that have produced more single-person and lone-mother households, and given the increase in female labour-market participation, all adults – male and female – should be encouraged to be self-sufficient....

  7. 2 What Is Family Change About? The Debate
    (pp. 45-76)

    The last chapter showed the complexity of cross-national patterns in regard to demographic change and the nature of the contributions made by men and women to families. The debate about these changes has been highly charged, while relatively little attention has been paid to this cross-national complexity. Many dimensions of family change are seen as moral as well as social issues, which means that values have bulked large in the debate, certainly in the English-speaking countries. Continental Europeans have found it difficult to understand the passions that have been evoked by the increase in lone-mother families in English-speaking countries.


  8. 3 What Can Be Done about Family Change? Issues for Family Law and Public Policy
    (pp. 77-108)

    The family obligations that interest policy makers revolve mainly around the maintenance and care of children by parents, of elderly parents by children, and, to a lesser extent, between adult partners, especially if one is caring for a child. Given the demographic trends, policy makers may also be increasingly interested in the extent to which adults feel obliged to care for each other in old age (spouses are the most numerous group of informal carers), which again begs the question of the degree of commitment in personal relationships among todayʹs working-age population. Most attention has focused on parental obligations, but...

  9. References
    (pp. 109-126)
  10. Index
    (pp. 127-132)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 133-136)