Concern and debate over changes to family life have increased in the last decade, as a result of evolving employment patterns, shifting gender relations and more openness about sexual orientation. Most politicians and researchers have viewed these changes as harmful, suggesting that the family as an institution should not alter. The ‘New’ Family? challenges these dominant views. Leading academics in the field consider current diverse practices in families, and reveal the lack of balance between policies based on how families should be and how they actually are, illustrating the need for a broader definition of family.

The ‘New’ Practices and Politics of Family Life

The ‘New’ Practices and Politics of Family Life

The ‘new’ practices and politics of family life
Elizabeth B.Silva and CarolSmart

Our focus in this book is the changing nature of intimate and familial relationships in the context of shifting normative frameworks. While our enterprise here is essentially sociological, we recognize the extent to which issues to do with families have become immensely controversial and politicized. There is ongoing both an epistemological and a moral debate about what the family is and what the family ought to be.

For some it is easy to define what the family should be, namely a heterosexual conjugal unit based on marriage and co-residence. The main purpose of such a family is often thought to be to inculcate proper values in children and ...

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