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.

Everyday Experiments: Narratives of Non-Heterosexual Relationships

Everyday Experiments: Narratives of Non-Heterosexual Relationships

Everyday experiments: Narratives of non-heterosexual relationships
JeffreyWeeks, CatherineDonovan and BrianHeaphy

Unlike the 1960s, when the questioning of traditional forms produced a search for alternatives to the family, increasingly today there is a pronounced tendency to speak of ‘alternative families’, differentiated by class, ‘race’ and ethnicity, life-cycle, single parenthood, chosen lifestyles and the like (Weeks, 1991). Yet while many of these forms have become increasingly acceptable (though not without frequent political controversy, as in the case of one-parent families), there is a continuing stigma attached to non-heterosexual (lesbian, gay, same-sex or ‘queer’) forms. As the pejorative term ‘pretended family relationships’, legally enshrined in the Local Government Act of 1988, suggests, non-heterosexual patterns are somehow not real. Perhaps it is hardly surprising, then, ...

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